By Rana Athar Javed
In a highly isolated and complex process of governance, President Karzai has become the primary source of negatively influencing the US efforts to negotiate a credible peace in Afghanistan. The fact that Mr Karzai is more involved in anarchistic diplomacy rather than facilitating the peaceful US withdrawal from Afghanistan reflects indoctrination of very dangerous personalized/vested regional interests. From opposing the historical Pak-Afghan border (Durand Line) to ordering ANSF to attack Pak-military check posts and from advising Taliban to attack Pakistanis to providing sanctuaries to TTP/BLA leadership – each of these designs will have enormous ramifications for the safety of the US/NATO troops in Afghanistan, because the current Afghan government is totally failed in providing relief to the ordinary citizens.
As Mr Karzai’s presidential term approaches to a logical conclusion, the launch of a “new diplomatic” battle against Pakistan aims to manipulate America’s decision-making process, and advocate further Gulf between the two brotherly nations (i.e. Afghanistan & Pakistan). This policy technique essentially relates to “fear” of losing personal authority and, consequences of remaining coalition partner with the US and NATO in the post.2014 scenario. Regardless of which of these qualms would be materialized, the prospects of stabilizing Afghanistan under Mr Karzai remain bleak and dangerous.
The current situation, whereby the Pak-US relations are improving, it is principally important that Afghanistan must avoid an inordinate degree of rhetoric, thereby escaping from more chaos and socio-political insecurity. Although the complexity of Afghan conflict is widely recognized as the most challenging threat to international peace and security, the “Indian factor” to influence external peace environment cannot be afforded in the pre/post-withdrawal process. Given the timeline of the US withdrawal, and the advanced deficiency of policy planning within the Afghan government, reflects a very complex diplomatic environment in South Asia.
The impact of US national security thinking and critical approach of President Karzai toward Pakistan would ultimately undermine US/NATO’s overall objectives of peace and stability. The question is whether Mr Karzai’s rhetoric has become an irritant, which needs diplomatic refinement? The statement such as, “the United States and the Taliban of colluding to convince Afghans that foreign forces were needed to maintain peace in the country beyond next year , when most foreign combat forces are due to leave…then, [in the wake of any bomb attack in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai would state that]… the blasts were aimed at convincing people that the Taliban would return if U.S. forces withdrew”.
Interestingly, the overall manifestation of Mr. Karzai’s criticism grows out of “great expectation”, that is, the current Afghan government is fully capable of managing the strong anti-US sentiments in Afghanistan, and is also capable of handling the Taliban affair. Clearly, this indicates a fallacy because a transition out of a conflict must come with responsibility; else, the previous US disengagement in the region has just inflicted sufferings and instability on millions of people. Not to mention the deadly civil war followed the withdrawal of the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Against Pakistan, it has virtually become a routine matter for the Afghan officials to accuse Pakistan for any wrong happenings within the Afghan territory. One piece of example of Mr. Karzai’s statement is, “that Pakistan can play a key role in the fight against terrorism, which now threatens the security of the entire region… [And] was not taking practical measures for supporting Afghanistan in the search for ways to combat the Taliban…”
As is apparent from the above quote that primarily Mr. Karzai seeks to shift his government’s responsibility of establishing peace to the Pakistani side – without acknowledging that Pakistan is the only country, which sacrificed more than 60, 000 precious lives, and no other nation can be ranked in this league. Importantly, the expectations that Pak-military and its security forces would fight at every front to culminate the war on terror, is an effort to overshadow Mr. Karzai’s own failures, and acquire tactical advantage before 2014.
A number of conclusions can be drawn from above observations and assessment. President Karzai must be doing something right, especially in the larger interest of the great Afghan nation. As such any outgoing leader would seek a legacy in the history; Mr. Karzai’s legacy could be his ability to manage the current strategic crisis between Afghanistan and Pakistan. A proactive and positive diplomacy is certainly valid to resolve the issues of terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan, thereby a sustainable and broader partnership between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Finally, there is no justification to generate anti-Pakistan sentiments within among Afghan people, because the personal political objectives too need a professional approach to address the diplomatic issues. In these circumstances, Pakistan’s consistent support to stabilize Afghanistan including hosting of millions of refugees for decades should not be ignored.