Afghanistan: Can Americans complete a home run this time?
Afghanistan: Can Americans complete a home run this time?
Islamabad: As possibilities of new regional blocks, strategic and diplomatic alignments are shaping up in the world’s most focused Af-Pak region where India, China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia along with US and its European partners are digesting the new realities in a post Bin-Laden world, all eyes still remain focused on Pakistan’s supreme spy agency ISI and its India-centric military establishment.
Since the birth of war on terror with the jet-slamming in New York’s twin towers, it certainly has taken a new turn in the post Abbottabad event. But road to consolidate this new gain largely remains dependant on how Americans high command deals with the issue of thinning its armies (or exit strategy), dealing with (currently a very egoistic) Pakistan, President Kara’s falling graphs, India’s march into the new jinx, Chinese and even Russian’s aspirations and above-all sustaining the inflow of huge economic, military and developmental aid to Afghanistan (which currently stands at around 100 billion dollars a year and accumulatively around 400 billion dollars so far since 2001 with an a requested 118 billion dollars for 2012 and proposed 114 billion for 2013).
Each of this issue need a separate column to define their parameters but for those who have been following the events on these issues are keenly watching not only the shuttle diplomacy currently taking place between Washington and Islamabad on the one hand and almost daily departures of Pakistani civilian and military top men to France, Saudi-Arabia, Russia, China and even Afghanistan. Amidst all sorts of conspiracy theories making round in the region, one cannot ignore the fact that Americans are not letting this new gain slip through their hands like the sands of 2001 when they hurriedly ousted Taliban’s Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan and installed Northern-Uzbek-Shia-led-Karzai in Afghanistan just to venture into their most wanted lands of Iraq where they were supposed to find the Weapons of Mass destruction for UN. But this does not seem to be the situation now because despite getting their hands entangled in rising Arab-spring-storm and military invasion of Libya, they are not just relenting. Knowing very well the ability of the Pakistani establishment and having gained the thorough ground knowledge of the double-games by infusing around 400 Raymond Davis-like operatives in the past one year or so, they are trying to sooth the nerves of shell-shocked Pakistani establishment via constant telephone calls, visits from Washington or by sending in the emissaries from Britain and other European trusted allies to not only read the mind of their non-NATO ally (Pakistan) but also to give them a future road map for resolving their issues with regard to Durand Line as well as Kashmir.
Since Americans know that after gaining an immediate edge in Afghanistan in post 9/11 invasion, their let up actually allowed the fleeing splinter Taliban groups to resettle, reassess and regroup their strategies for waging a long term guerrilla war against the new invaders, therefore, they are in no mood to let this happen this time. As many military strategists believe that we can only hope that Americans stay the course, otherwise, it does not take very long to turn things on its head because of many regional players like China and even Russia ready to jump into the ring with their own agendas.
But after spending more than US $ 400 billion since 2001—an estimated 20 billion a month in the past couple of years—and having done a thorough strategic evaluation of this war they have made up their mind and a blue print as well to deal not only with the hiccups of Pakistan but also with the larger issue of talibanization of Pakistan and the region. Reading through the lines of Secretary Gates, Ambassador Grossman, Senator Kerry and then recent books like “Deadly Embrace” of Bruce Riedel it is not hard to understand that Americans not only want to stay on course in Afghanistan but want to have a continued presence there beyond 2014 to ensure that Karzai is lured into accepting 1610 miles long Duran Line as a permanent border with Pakistan. This is an issue which has remained unresolved since the birth of Pakistan and successive governments in Kabul even a fully endorsed Pakistani government of Taliban did not agree to such a demand from Islamabad but given the weaknesses of Karzai and his dwindling fortunes, it might not surprise many if Karzai agrees to this as a last resort to cling on to power. Simultaneously, it is believed that Pakistan is being given the assurance during this post OBL scenario that its worries with regard to India might be resolved through active involvement of Americans. Here is the Americans are assuming that their recently developed love-ties with India, especially in post Mumbai attacks and a joint stance of US and India over the issue of Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT), they will be able to sort out the Kashmir issue by resorting to back channel diplomacy and ensuring that four point agenda formula devised with the American tacit understanding during Gen. Musharraf good days in office be taken to a new level and line of control between Indian and Pakistan parts of Kashmir be declared as permanent international border with some cosmetic amendments here and there. The formula included relaxing the visa regime, opening transportation and then trade links and ultimately the permanence of the LoC.
But that’s what might be just an American recipe and given the deep mistrust which has reached its zenith after Abbottabad operation, will it be liked as much by Pakistani establishment remains a big question at this point in time. Especially when Pakistan is once again found looking for alternate sources of stabilizing not only its fragile economy but also its internal rifts and external threat perception. And also the fact that all the requests of the Pakistani establishment for military equipments, especially the fighter choppers and drone technology, are still considered a no-go area by Americans, the situation is likely to become even more tricky not only for Pakistan but also for America and the region as a whole, comments some foreign policy experts when put in the box with these kind of queries.
Given the huge gulf which exist between a weak political dispensation and the still dominant military establishment, Americans seems to be banking on this as well as on economic carrots to not only complete a home-run but also to ensure that its exit strategy plans remain on course at least till the next term presidential elections, due in November 2012.
The issue which I wanted to also discuss here but would now have to put off till next column is that once the destiny-setters of Afghanistan in the name of strategic depth, ISI is all set to taste a dose of its own medicine in President Karzai-controlled parts of Afghanistan. Because being a Pakistani in Kabul these days means worst than being in India for reasons we will dwell upon in our next sitting.
Tags: Afghanistan , Pakistan
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