National Security

Afghanistan & Strategic Partnership

Any intelligent Western policy maker accustomed to reflect on strategic partnership between the strongest and a weak state comprehends that such a relationship often struggles under peculiar disadvantages. The so-called Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the US and Afghanistan is aimed to induce the latter into accomplishing the strategic aims of the US and NATO and thereby forcing future Afghan governments into a position so impossible that it certainly would choose to surrender its “own” strategic interests for at least next 20 years. Perhaps the most important insight is that the US pledges “not to use Afghan territory or facilities as a launching point for attacks against other countries”.

This part of strategic agreement is pertinent to Pakistan’s security because up until now the configuration of cross-border infiltration and drone attacks from Afghanistan is appeared to be cultivated by the commanders of current strategic landscape in Afghanistan. Everything that emphasizes the full respect of sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan and Pakistan is relevant. However, the nature and scope of US involvement in military trainingand defending Afghanistan’s security on the basis of “shared democratic values” is historically perceived in terms of intangible surprises, influences and thereby encouraging the rise of subtle policy shifts in momentum of relative security advantages. Hence, there is no isolated US preference, which could reaffirm that the US military would not establish a strategic trend of initiating OR supervising negotiation between Afghanistan and other regional powers. The US decision to start negotiation with Taliban (i.e. the Qatar-backed process) is just one example of dominating the internal peace process of Afghanistan.

The US military strategists also fell short to capture the “combatant coexistence” of several competing factions in Afghanistan. The societies and cities developed on the battlefields contain multiple centers of popular power and a dense network of conflict generators. A more serious threat therefore is that currently, the battle dimensions are being controlled on the basis of pro-government and pro-Western compromises. However, the continued fear of Taliban’s return and the dissemination of their brutal skill during their previous rule are considered to be the main reasons of not focusing on stability of Afghanistan. Whatever the US and NATO have promised to the current Afghan government, and the way the Western governments deal with the corruption of President Karzai’s government, still, the strategic partnership cannot escape the growing concern over “insider attacks” on US/NATO forces, Additionally, the preamble of Strategic Partnership Agreement is considered in terms of “emphasizing the need to preserve the achievements of the past [eleven years]”, rather than designing an independent model of governance for the future Afghan generations.

The contextual character of this agreement also reflects that the US strategists have mastered the skill of defining the post-2014 themes (e.g. “shared democratic values” & “internal/external interference”) and, is playing on the culture of resistance within among the Pashtun population. This technique is then deployed through application of a doctrine that help making psychological gains between so-called “good and evil” “strength and weak” and “past and future”. The strategic maneuvering approach, as it can be called is, of course the ideal and not always reality. Throughout their history, the Afghans have had their share of death, destruction and instability, and the current brutal conflict is permanently affecting both Afghan people and the region, especially the people of Pakistan. For Afghanistan, the strategic partnership should be adjustable to their internal sociopolitical dynamics, because further breakdown of their internal tribal structures will evaporate the periphery of strategic partnership between Afghanistan and the US. With these distinctive meaning of strategic partnership in mind, the US and NATO should not impose an infinite multitude of dependency in Afghanistan because historically, the US maintained an abrupt termination of support system to those who helped establish the current dominance of the US.

On the other hand, the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan constitute in a natural order and, people of both countries are surrounded with cultural confinements and therefore the US and other regional powers cannot pretend to become a “civilization” that is known to inward radiance of Afghan geopolitical imperatives. Underlying this pretension is very ambitious and unclear program of occupying territorial space in the region, at least until 2024. The US know, of course that only training Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) can never represent peaceful aspirations of Afghan people, particularly continue fighting with Taliban would be a costly error and will have catastrophic consequences for international and regional security.

The premise that army can defend fragmented Afghanistan is a superior strategic assumption, yet regional states and societies are not so fanciful of various stages of US invasion policy as traditionally far beyond war on terror, the US presence is considered to be entering into approximation of unclear withdrawal strategy. Also, no formal debate is being carried out to get approval of the Afghan people, a scheme, which would be untenable for the future Afghan governments. To help further clarify strategic partnership with Afghanistan, the US should create a system of trustworthyrelationship with the wider Afghan population because notable strategic successes can only be negotiated through trading on “equal terms”, especially when the gulf between the US democratic values and traditional Afghan society is continued to challenge the political arrangements of US and NATO.