The need to stay for US troops in Afghanistan

By Habib Jan

The Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani and Chief executive Abdullah Abdullah first official visit to United States for reshaping US-Afghan relations deteriorated during Afghan ex-president Karzai regime due to United States policy of ignorance towards Afghanistan brings new hopes in Afghan political affairs. Post withdrawal course of action by the US in Afghanistan promised by Obama during election campaign was unmindful and inadequate as US led coalition forces have failed to fully cure threats of terrorism in Afghanistan. During his visit to US, Ashraf Ghani highlighted the threats from militants, reiterated Afghan foreign policy, and urged US forces to stay in order to train and assist Afghan national army. Obama administration accepted the request and vowed to provide military assistance due to which 9,800 troops are to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2016. US reluctance to leave Afghanistan in an immediate manner can also be attributed to unpredictable challenges such as re-emergence of proxy war in Afghanistan after a complete draw down by US forces similar to what happened in Iraq; emergence of IS and Arab-Iran proxy war seemed a possible conclusion henceforth. After Russia withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in 1989, many countries including Pakistan, Iran and Arab began to increase their influence in Afghanistan to gain strategic advantage making Afghanistan a chess board of proxy forces. Also, without American forces in Afghanistan, there is a possibility that IS-based in Syria and Iraq may establish its stronghold in this region as well.

There is also a need to throw some light on US long term strategic vision for Afghanistan and its importance in their domestic political affairs. The Democratic versus Republic party’s campaign in American presidential election 2016 clearly signifies the importance of this issue in US political affairs as well. Raud Paul is in favor of immediate withdrawal of US forces while Hillary Clinton supports long-term presence of US forces in Afghanistan.

The new Afghan government has already signed strategic partnership agreement and bi-lateral security agreement (BSA) with US which provides a framework for long term stay of American forces till 2024. Karzai refused to sign BSA before some preconditions were met; but rationally he supported such agreement with US. Karzai once argued publicly in Afghanistan Jirga that Afghanistan must sign such agreements with its allies in order to survive in the global world order otherwise enemies of Afghanistan will destroy it. The conditions Karzai presented before Obama were essential for Afghanistan’s enduring peace and stability and comprehensively planned to prevent interference from neighboring countries causing disturbance in Afghanistan. Those conditions were favorable to both the states and the whole region would benefit as a result. He pressed for court martial of the US forces in Afghanistan for those involved in conducting military operations in Afghan villages without sharing information with local government and armed forces. Afghan government intends to bring Taliban in the mainstream politics and Taliban are against the US forces that are operating in Afghanistan.

On the other hand China is also concerned about terrorism in Afghanistan as it is gradually diffusing into their south western province. It poses a threat to security and economic threat to the region. Therefore, post-2014 China has reassessed its Afghan policy from passive neutrality to activism. No state would benefit if Afghanistan falls into hands of Taliban who vow to embark a regime of brutality in Afghanistan that is devoid of basic humanitarian rights.

However, the decision of US to delay its forces in Afghanistan is a good omen for Afghanistan and the region. Large section of Afghan society welcomed the decision by the Washington to postpone its withdrawal plan as they fear that without continued international military and economic support Afghanistan would fall into Taliban tyrannical regime once again. People of Afghanistan participated in the country’s democratic presidential election of 2014 in large numbers and presently Afghanistan is being run by a democratic regime. New leadership of Afghanistan gave a clear and sustainable vision of its future policy: it promised cooperation and commitment in Ghani’s first state visit to China and Pakistan. Afghan peace depends on regional players due to complex relationship between neighboring countries.

  • saadhafiz

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/07-Jun-2015/existential-threats by Saad Hafiz

    An existential threat — an expression that gained prominence in the early 1990s — is a threat to people’s existence or survival. However, politicians, leaders, opinion makers, scholars and bureaucrats routinely bracket all crises, problems and struggles as being existential in nature. States have relied on existential threats, fabricated perils and exaggerated fears that are just plausible enough to be believed. As national problems mount, these threats help hold state and society together. And they keep external diplomatic, military and economic support coming. This support is expected to enhance deterrence, preemption, defence and war-fighting capabilities.

    Existential threats can feed off false narratives, ultimate fear-mongering and clever posturing. They accentuate existing religious, national, cultural and social conflicts. A threat is always a perception. It is about emotion, understanding, feeling, sentiment and construction, both cognitive and emotional. In this context, an existential threat — literally a challenge to continued existence — means implicitly likening the enemy or explicitly equating it with evil as leaders has done for many years. Existential threats construct an enemy by combining emotion, fear, anger and resentment. Speeches and statements are crafted with memorable sentiments such as the risk of annihilation by rapacious and genocidal enemies, terror-sponsoring regimes with expansionist ambitions and threats to global security, to our whole being, our way of life and the security of our loved ones. Existential threats are often based on unsupportable premises that enemy states are irrational, suicidal and unconcerned about their own survival. The argument made is that an adversary who is not rational cannot be deterred or contained because such an actor, by definition, does not make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis.

    Some recent examples of existential threats are: Israel considers Iran’s nascent nuclear programme an existential threat. Russia’s aggressive posturing in the Ukraine is deemed an existential threat to Europe. India regularly labels Pakistan as an unstable state sponsor of terrorism and a nuclear proliferation threat to the world. Pakistan portrays India as a mortal enemy — an existential threat — waiting to destroy Pakistan at a moment’s notice. By definition, an existential threat justifies any action that might forestall it, from preemptive military strikes to efforts at torpedoing an unacceptable diplomatic deal. It also tries to make all compromises suspect. It seeks to eliminate all options with the exception of preventive military action. Once the foe is presented as an existential threat, then preventive action is the sole rational response. These assumptions short cut the entire policy process and skip all the steps that normally are taken before a state determines that force is necessary.

    The building of existential threats through false narratives can go horribly wrong. Conflating Iraq’s chemical weapons capability and nuclear weapons, supported by the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11, led to the disastrous US invasion of Iraq. Today, the invasion and the subsequent US occupation of Iraq are considered a terrible mistake. They led to the creation of Islamic State (IS), an Islamic extremist group controlling territory in Iraq and Syria. The leaders of IS are remnants of Saddam’s well-trained army and officer corps who were ushered into the chaos of post-invasion unemployment and, of course, insurgency. Some have suggested that the Iraq war was not an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. The US invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts and the existential threat from Saddam’s Iraq was in fact a lie.

    This discussion of existential threats is not intended to minimise the real global threat from the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The larger threat associated with additional nuclear powers is that it might trigger an arms race that would be deeply destabilising and would dramatically increase the risk of a weapon falling into the wrong hands. Instead of unilateral action, however, this threat can be best addressed by putting teeth into a proposal that would get countries threatened by emerging nuclear powers in their midst to agree to respond collectively to any such threat. Not only would this create meaningful deterrence but it might also help extract promises from participating states not to go nuclear. Indeed, were they to do so, they would be expelled and become not a beneficiary but a target of the programme. Such an approach, particularly should it involve the participation of more than one or several of the world’s leading nuclear powers, would address both proliferation and containment simultaneously.

    The other consideration is that by focusing and obsessing on existential threats, states ignore the opportunities that could be created from resolving long festering disputes such as Palestine and Kashmir. Peace requires brotherhood and amity, an environment free of fear and paranoia, an appreciation of massive power imbalances and strategic insecurities. Also, states tend to take the eye off the ball from real existential risks developing into threats on and within their own borders, demographic, social and economic. These existential risks include poverty, malnutrition and hunger, infant mortality, and health and gender issues. Large-scale socio-economic programmes and interventions are required to address these risks before they turn into significant threats.

  • kaalchakra

    Saadhafiz, that’s some beautiful conceptual writing, bro. Thinking or letting others think is not a luxury that those engaged in existential battles can afford.

    Habib Jan, good piece, although there are probably others who would like the US to withdraw at the earliest so Afghanistan could live as a brother Islamic nation to Pakistan once again.

  • saadhafiz

    Thanks Kaal.

    “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States (READ THE WORLD), and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through (our) political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
    ― Isaac Asimov

  • Gorki

    Saad Sahib,
    Excellent essay and very relevant.
    I wonder what PMA Sahib thinks of this.

  • saadhafiz

    Many thanks Gorki Sahib.

  • PMA

    Gorki Saab: Thanks for asking. I think it a very good piece by Saad Hafiz. Why it is not posted as an PTH article.

  • saadhafiz

    Thanks PMA: I have been advised that PTH only wants new content so my pieces (previously published in DT) will not be reprinted on this site.

  • HistoryBuff

    Professor C. Christine Fair:
    http://warontherocks.com/2015/06/false-equivalency-in-the-indo-pakistan-dispute/

    “If the United States wants to prevent future conflict, it should consider a very different approach to the South Asia region.”

  • Rex Minor

    No state would benefit if Afghanistan falls into hands of Taliban who vow to embark a regime of brutality in Afghanistan that is tan dfghanisevoid of basic humanitarian rights?

    Is this why the current American administration and two musketeers who replaced Hamid Karzai office in Kabul, are negotiating with the Taliban shadow Government in Norway for forming a National Government?
    The Talibans have the administrative control over two third of Afghanistan and militarily opposing the presence of foreign forces in the countr.

    Rex Minor

  • Mohan

    Why China, Pakistan and US are eyeing India’s ‘string of pearls’
    Keeping New Delhi in a state of low-intensity attrition is part of this Machiavellian strategy.
    Minhaz Merchant

    National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s visit to Myanmar beginning tomorrow (June 17) is being closely watched by China, Pakistan and the United States. Myanmar is an important piece of the geopolitical jigsaw that India is putting together. When complete, it will be India’s “own string of pearls”, a phrase used to describe China’s maritime ambitions in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

    .

    Myanmar shares long borders with both China and India. Following the successful Indian army cross-border strike against militants operating in camps in Myanmar, New Delhi and Yangon are working to raise their partnership to a new level. Though China resolved its border dispute with Myanmar in six months of negotiations with Yangon, it has deliberately kept its border dispute with India in limbo for 34 years. The reason: China wants to bog India down as a regional power in what Beijing expects will soon be a bipolar world led by itself and Washington. Keeping India in a state of low-intensity attrition is part of this Machiavellian strategy.

    .

    Meanwhile, Beijing is clinically pursuing its “string of pearls” agenda in the Indian Ocean to encircle India. China is building military and commercial outposts in an arc from its mainland across to Sudan, passing through the Strait of Mandeb, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz and Lombok Strait. This maritime “garland” would encompass ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Maldives and Somalia.

    .

    India must develop a clear counter-strategy. And it now has the ingredients to do so. The key countries in India’s own string of pearls: Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, the Maldives and Seychelles.

    .

    India’s relations with Myanmar are now excellent. Doval’s visit beginning June 17 is meant to partly assess the precise outcome of last week’s strike on militants in Myanmar by 21 Para, the special forces unit of the Indian army. Around 25 commandos from this special forces battalion took part in the operation.

    .

    But NSA Doval’s visit is also designed to plan future joint operations against militants on Myanmar soil and strengthen India’s ties with Yangon. Myanmar’s government, led by Thein Sein since 2011, shares an increasingly uneasy relationship with China. This is the right time, therefore, to deepen India’s security and strategic partnership with Myanmar. (Yangon is, in particular, unhappy with Chinese president Xi Jinping for breaking protocol last week to meet opposition leader Aung San Su Kyi in Beijing.)Myanmar, with several deep sea ports, including Yangon and Dawei, is the first pearl in India’s garland, sweeping south into the Indian Ocean before rising up to the port of Chabahar in southern Iran. Along the way are a friendly Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Both have significant ports – Chittagong in Bangladesh and Colombo and Hambontota in Sri Lanka. Leaders in both countries, too, lean towards India rather than China or Pakistan. The Maldives and Seychelles are small but key components in India’s string of pearls which when complete would begin in Myanmar in the east, dip south to Sri Lanka and link up with Iran in the west.

    .

    What do Islamabad, Beijing and Washington make of India’s evolving strategy in the Indian Ocean? China and Pakistan have developed a client-vendor relationship. China pays, Pakistan provides the real estate, much as it has done for decades to the United States. With the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan, China has replaced Washington as Pakistan’s principal paymaster.

    .

    India’s string of pearls strategy, along with the close relations New Delhi has forged with Nepal and Bhutan – both of which share long borders with China – places India in a stronger geopolitical position than it has enjoyed for decades. Pakistan is relatively isolated in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Its belligerent reaction to India’s commando strike in Myanmar reflects deep-seated insecurity.

    .

    Disgraced former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, underscored this by invoking the nuclear bogey with his usual crude bluster: “We do not want to use our nuclear capability but if our existence comes under threat, who do we have these nuclear weapons for? If I say, in Chaudhary Shujaat’s style, do we have nukes to be used on Shab-e-Baraat?”

    .

    It is time India called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. Islamabad did not dare use nuclear weapons during its defeat in the 1999 Kargil conflict. (It had carried out a nuclear test in June 1998 and had weaponised well before Kargil, Musharraf’s brainchild.) Pakistani commentators boast that Kargil is no indicator of the future. Islamabad has in recent years developed short-range tactical nuclear weapons in response to India’s “cold start” doctrine. These weapons can be used on the battlefield to balance India’s conventional military superiority.

    .

    All this is braggadocio. Pakistan’s Scotch-guzzling generals know that India would retaliate massively in the event of first-use of small battlefield tactical nuclear weapons by Pakistan. Rawalpindi’s generals value their lifestyle and paychecks (in dollars and renminbi) far too much to risk a nuclear exchange which would wound India but destroy Pakistan.

    .

    What Rawalpindi GHQ will instead do, post-Myanmar, is ratchet up its proxy terror war on India. Pakistan cannot afford to fight a conventional war with India – a war which it will lose. It cannot use nuclear weapons except as empty rhetoric. State-sponsored terrorism is its only option. If Islamabad doesn’t continue to sponsor terrorism, the Pakistani army will go out of business. Terrorism is a revenue stream for it because it ensures a regular supply of aid and arms from China and the US on the pretext of an existential confrontation with India. Without proxy terror, the revenue which finances the lifestyle of Pakistan’s army brass would dry up.

    .

    The US meanwhile is already into its presidential season. Hillary Clinton is almost certain to win the Democratic nomination. According to the latest opinion polls, she enjoys the support of 60 percent of Democratic voters. If she wins the presidency in November 2016, she is unlikely to change Washington’s decades-old South Asia policy. Like China, the US does not want a too-powerful India and uses Pakistan to contain it.

    .

    The US has been a ruthless deployer of covert intelligence operations in countries it wishes to influence or keep on leash. It does so through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), paid NGOs and media. (One well-known Mumbai-based monthly features magazine, founded in the 1960s, was a front for a CIA operation.) The US was built on free markets, enterprise and hard work – but also on slavery and segregation. It is a legacy that still permeates its ruthless foreign policy mindset.

    .

    In India, however, what passes off as “liberal” opinion would be considered left-wing doctrinaire in democracies like the US and Britain. Real liberals in those countries would have unequivocally and publicly hailed an anti-terrorist operation like India’s strike in Myanmar. (India’s counterfeit liberals had, unsurprisingly, blanched at President Obama’s speech lauding the US special forces who assassinated Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

    .

    In sharp contrast Prime Minister Narendra Modi hasn’t uttered a word publicly congratulating the 21 Para commandos who carried out the strike in Myanmar. Commentators instead quibble over how many militants were killed, using unverified body counts and anonymous sources to belittle the success of the operation. Often this “enemy within” is India’s biggest hurdle as it unshackles itself from centuries of colonial self-doubt and compromised opinion-makers.

    .

    If, however, it successfully builds its geopolitical string of pearls, India will inevitably emerge as the third angle in a new US-China-India triangle of power that will define this century.

  • Majumdar

    However, the decision of US to delay its forces in Afghanistan is a good omen for Afghanistan and the region.
    .
    I am reminded of what a dear friend KR Bhatti had once said in a different context “it is like suggesting more afeem for the afeemchi”
    .
    Regards

  • PMA

    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday announced the commencement of construction on two motorways connecting Pakistan with Termez in Central Asia.
    The PM told the National Assembly that the Gwadar-Termez motorway will connect Gwadar to Central Asia, as Termez lies between Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
    Addressing members of the National Assembly from Balochistan, he said: “I want to tell them that from Gwadar, this 650 kilometer road which meets Chaman will be complete by 2016. The western route will also be completed.”
    The route from Termez to Mazar-i-Sharif, which will go onto Kandahar and then Chaman, is being developed.
    He said that interior Balochistan will be ‘open’ as a result of these projects, saying “Quetta will be joined to the rest of the country by road”.
    He said that the motorway from Peshawar to Torkham on to Jalalabad was also under construction and would be completed very soon.
    The route goes on to connect with Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Termez, so Pakistan would have two routes to access Central Asia.
    The PM said the government was undertaking “a very large project for roads and communication in Pakistan”, adding that the project which will cost hundreds of billions this year and the next would connect the whole country and each province to one another. He said the project was “for the unity and integration of Pakistan, to end differences inside Pakistan”.

  • Mohan

    Ramzan Mubarak
    Ramadan Kareem

  • tajender

    thanks mohan.last time did not feel good to meet because of tragedy of rhr .see u next time.

  • Ranger9999

    Reliance Mubarak! Reliance Kareem! Allahu Fuckbar! Reliance Bhaiyya FLYING!

  • kaalchakra

    Ramadan Kareem to all my Islamic brothers and sisters and early wishes to those in Pakistan.

  • kaalchakra

    Ranger, may Reliance be much mubarak to you throughout the year 🙂

  • timely

    The kuran tells the muslims to go after the non-muslims and harass and expel them and destroy them after the “holy” month of ramdan.
    The long-term goal of islam is to exterminate the non-muslims or let them exist only as slaves and underdogs.

  • guest

    kaalchakra says:
    June 18, 2015 at 10:50 am
    Ranger, may Reliance be much mubarak to you throughout the

    where it is written tell.moot chutie moot.

  • guest

    kaalchakra says:
    June 18, 2015 at 10:50 am
    Ranger, may Reliance be much mubarak to you throughout the year

    jab padha likha itnee stupidity kee mean batein karta hai to chutiye timely se kyon khafa ho.pite bhi to bhangee se.ambani and jain go to stock market with crores in pockets and rob the small investers.none of his company is doing invention or giving excellent performance.as per staram yechuri yoga is copy og dog actions.

  • guest

    timely says:
    June 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm
    The kuran tells the muslims to go after the non-muslims and harass and expel them and destroy them after the “holy” month of ramdan.

    where it is written tell.moot chutie moot.

  • guest

    kaal saheb sorry.it was by mistake.

  • kaalchakra

    No problem, tajender. Hope all is well.

  • Rex Minor

    The Sharif brothers should try to save the dying karachi walas because of hydration due to energy shortage during summer tempratures. They are probably not aware that the clouds can be brought down to rain with modern technology.

    Rex Minor