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.