Jan 12, 2010

Afghanistan problem

S Ishfaq

The international community's failure against the insurgency in Afghanistan is breeding violence and instability in the region. The US involvement in Afghanistan is pushing radical elements across the border into Pakistan, and is destabilising this nuclear-armed country. The US should change its policy on the global war against terrorism and try to bring peace by adopting a policy that must stress on economic, educational, food, healthcare and security assistance. Only the deployment of troops throughout Afghanistan will not defeat Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

India's participation in this global peace effort against terror and extremism remains eyewash. Countless complaints against Indian troops and intelligence operators in Afghanistan substantiate the fact that there is an Indian hand behind the recent troubles inside Balochistan and FATA. It is an open secret now that the Balochistan Liberation Army, a well-organised Kabul-based movement inside Pakistan, receives monetary and other assistant from Indian defence and intelligence circles.

It is astonishing that when stability in Afghanistan is vital and the stakes high for the US and India, both countries have implausible strategies and ideas. At this critical juncture, the US direly needs to understand that the military surge is not a solution to the Afghan problem. Rather, it will add more violence and in turn result in further influx of militants and refugees from Afghanistan into Pakistan. On the other hand, India's current Afghan policy is highly flawed and is hardly able to deal with a wide range of hard security matters. It requires a larger strategic vision, not a blueprint for town and country planning for Afghanistan. The Indians are intent on punishing Pakistan, without realising the implications of their covert operations in Afghanistan. They are in fact destabilising the whole region.

America and its western allies must know that in the Afghan factor India is an unnatural partner whose partnership will not last long. Their decision to make India the regional boss is a farce. India has a history of meddling in the internal affairs of neighbouring states and supporting dissident elements there to create chaos. India is doing the same in Afghanistan in the name of reconstruction and development. It is supporting and financing the Taliban to unleash terror in Pakistan, but India forgets that by doing so it is actually making itself more vulnerable to terrorism.

Just like every group which was created and supported by India eventually turned against it, such as the Nepali Maoists and Sri Lankan Tamils. Nowadays Nepali Maoist claims to support Indian Maoists, who are the biggest internal security problem of India. And the Tamils, who had been supported by the Indian Congress, later assassinated Rajiv Gandhi. Similarly, the possibility cannot be ruled out that one day these Indian-supported fake Taliban will turn their guns on India. It is crystal clear that Afghanistan is slipping away from the US and NATO and billions of dollars and sacrifices of young Americans are being wasted in Afghanistan because of Indian help to the Taliban.

Afghanistan needs development, not troops. The past eight years have shown that foreign forces equipped with modern weaponry could not establish their control beyond Kabul. The Americans could have learned from the British, who avoided direct control of the tribal areas after assessing that the people of the tribal belt cannot be tamed or subjugated. Thus, in those times too Afghanistan was used as a buffer zone. Since force is not a solution to any problem, the US and its allies must adopt a developmental approach and also ask India to stop its anti-peace activities at once. Or else, Afghanistan will prove to be another Vietnam for America.

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