By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
If Dr. Abdullah Abdullah wins the seat of presidency in Afghanistan, it will not be a bed of roses for him. Just like a ropedancer he will have to move forward on the tightly stretched rope balancing the policy of Afghanistan.
After holding the reins of the government he would be standing at the crossroad of hard realities. Looking back in the past he will see the nightmare of 1996 when he along with Ahmad Shah Masood – the lion of Panjshir – was kicked out of the Kabul and in early 2001 when both these comrades were standing in front of the world community in Brussels then Dr. Abdullah, while translating the words of Ahmad Shah Masood in English, spoke against the role of Pakistan in the rise of savage Taliban.
Looking forward he will see the same Pakistan and Taliban in the prospect again. On his left he has the bitter reality when he opted to work along the US after the murder of his friend Ahmad Shah Masood just before the US invasion. On his right he has the hard reality of coalition of regional and international powers not only in Afghanistan but in Asia too.
Handling the threat of Taliban and keeping the regional and international powers happy will not be an easy task for Dr. Abdullah but making the people of Afghanistan start believing in democracy is the task if accomplished will make him immortal in the history of Afghanistan. Failure of democracy in Afghanistan will cause more damage than the decades old war, giving a chance to either vivisect Afghanistan or to push it to a situation where others will take advantage of the resources of Afghanistan.
The departure of foreign forces and the issue of Taliban will be the main problems faced by Dr. Abdullah. Afghan Taliban are the practical manifestation of Pakistani fear in their approach towards Afghanistan. It is the tough reality that Dr. Abdullah will have to handle. Pakistan cannot throw away Afghan Taliban but can Dr. Abdullah help Pakistan to stop relying on Taliban? Dr. Abdullah will have to bury those realities which twist Pakistan’s arm to feed Afghan Taliban.
It is not a task that can be completed in weeks or a month as the role of Pakistan in Afghan Taliban is not only confined to Pakistan’s interests but rather now the issue of Taliban has the backing of international players. Fulfilling the interests of Pakistan while being fearful of Taliban will even give more strength to Talibanization. Dealing with Pakistan and giving space to Taliban on negotiation table as well will give more impetus to Talibanization.
President Hamid Karzai has repeated this mistake again and again that is why Taliban have become the reality even after events like 9/11 and US invasion of Afghanistan. The common aspect of Karzai and Nawaz government is to call the Taliban as brothers and well-wishers of Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively. While Dr. Abdullah sees Taliban as the murderers of our children.
The Pashtun community of Afghanistan can be merged in the system by democratic process but Taliban are not the faction that can be merged in the political setup. Rest of the warring factions has easily merged in the system but Taliban because of their ideology could not become part of the main stream political system and probably they will never opt to gain the support of popular will.
It is strange that US whose sole aim was eradication of Taliban, is now trying to get rid of this burden and on the other hand Afghans have elected a president whose past is full of anti-Talibanization. Is the decision of Afghans in accordance with the wishes of departing foreign forces? What Taliban were waiting for since the last decade? Will the new president be able to handle the Taliban who are waiting for the withdrawal of foreign forces?
The dilemma of the Afghan government will be to keep the balance between diverse interests of diverse parties. Dr. Abdullah’s test will start the day when he will start ruling Afghanistan. It will become a ‘million prize problem’ for Dr. Abdullah to find the equation of balance for the foreign policy of Afghanistan. He will have to find a unique factorization method for the issue of Talibanization.