US bases, militancy and regional makeover


By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

American decision to seek Afghanistan’s approval for establishing long-term military bases has disappointed the people who speculated a humiliating defeat and withdrawal of American forces. It has unmasked the shallow analysis of the so-called political and military experts. Now the question is whether this decision will dishearten the militants or vice versa.

During Musharaf period when US started discussing time period to pull out from Afghanistan at that time Musharaf was of the viewpoint that without eradicating militancy US must not leave Afghanistan. May be it would also be the viewpoint of regional players. That opinion is still valid but the present scenario when US and NATO forces have started attacks on Pakistan, no one here in Pakistan will wish to see permanent US presence in Afghanistan even if it is of any benefit to our Afghan brothers. Though Pakistan did not announce this officially but Russia and Iran have openly expressed their reservations about buildup of US bases in Afghanistan. however Pakistan’s decision about Shumsi Airbase may be a foretoken about future makeover in the region.

Afghanistan’s conditional acceptance to US desire to establish permanent military bases after 2014 has started a new chapter in the war against terror. From the very beginning when US started war against militants, many neutral experts opined that war against terror is the part of neocolonialism but Chinese and Russian reticence forced people to think positively about US led war on terror. However this new development if on one side has revealed the US intensions in the region, on the other side it will now help countries like Pakistan to shape their future policy.

Pakistan is already at the verge of policy shift but may be still the reluctance of regional players to decide the fate of the region, is a hurdle in Pakistan’s trembling stance to put its eggs in one basket. Once the regional players come out of this position of dubitation and indecision, it is hoped that Pakistan will be the first to bury its past and start a new journey with regional approach. Pakistan has already shown some economic and military inclination towards regional countries.  The hostile mentality is steady changing here in Pakistan.  Person like General Hamid Gul, who openly supported Jihad and sent many of our young people to the next world in the hope of being blessed with paradise, last night openly stated that war with NATO and US is not in our benefit.

Now the quandary is that, though opposition is not in favour, but Afghanistan’s government is willing to provide bases to US in the hope it may bring prosperity. Now it is the duty of regional players to assure Afghans security against militancy and poverty. How can Afghans say no to Americans if there are ambiguous signals from regional players? Countries like Russia, China and Iran will have to come forward to fill the gap while Pakistan will have to assure Afghans about its role in curbing the terrorists. Expecting neutral decisions from poor Afghans is neither morally nor politically a wise decision.

The condition set by Afgan Jirga like respect for religion, culture and traditions of the Afghan people, national sovereignty and values of Afghanistan, halt to house searches by foreign troops, end to night raids and dismantling of foreign-run detentions in Afghanistan, end of parallel structures to the Afghan government and use of Afghanistan soil against other countries, are no more than a mirage. Time and again US officials violated Pakistani laws inside Pakistan and still there is fear of more border attacks from Afghanistan side. Isn’t it enough to open the eyes of Afghanistan? Though it may be considered interference in Afghanistan internal matters but here at this stage, regional powers must strengthen Afghans to take a neutral decision.

Russia is busy in settling its energy geopolitics in European region. Its mega projects like Nord Stream are in pipeline but its inability to play a major role in Afghanistan reconstruction or paving way for other regional powers to work smoothly in Afghanistan will put the responsibility of any mishap in the region on Russia’s and China’s shoulders. Just like ‘Nord Stream’ Russia and China must take an initiative to start a political process of helping the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan to come out of western domination.

Giving permission to Americans to build its military infrastructure is indirectly paving way for continuation of war on terror. The silence of China and Russia will help in creating dependent states like that of Arabian world, where even the wealth of petroleum is not helping them to come out of western domination. Do these regional powers need another Arabian model state in shape of Afghanistan, where Afghans will never be able to utilize their own resources for their national freedom and regional uplift?

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