Re-evaluation of our Afghan policy

Published: May 15, 2012

The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in senior intelligence postings in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata

A 10-year strategic partnership agreement between the US and Afghanistan has been signed recently which will shape long-term Nato involvement in Afghanistan. After signing the agreement, President Barack Obama addressed US citizens from Bagram base in Kabul highlighting the road-map for the process of transition in Afghanistan. He also referred to Pakistan saying that it should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan’s “sovereignty, interests and democratic institutions. The US has no other design beyond respecting Afghan sovereignty and ending al Qaeda safe havens”.

Between the lines, some messages have been conveyed. Pakistan should assist the Afghan government in negotiations with the Taliban and become an equal partner in the process. Respect for Afghan sovereignty implies that terrorists entering Afghanistan from our soil should not be encouraged and interference in internal Afghan affairs should be avoided. President Obama mentioned the al Qaeda’s safe havens but did not touch upon the presence of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.

The US wants to exit Afghanistan but would like to leave with a stable government in place in Kabul, which is acceptable to all Afghan factions, including the Taliban. In order for that to happen, suitable measures are being planned to prevent the country from plunging into chaos and a possible civil war upon withdrawal of Nato Forces.

Pakistan has two major security concerns related to Afghanistan, the Durand Line and the perceived presence and influence of India. The Durand Line and Pashtunistan issues have been raised by different Afghan regimes in the past. However, it may no longer be a concern. Pashtuns are now so well integrated in Pakistani society that the majority will never opt for Pashtunistan or Afghanistan. Afghan-Pashtun refugees have been staying in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for more than 30 years.Threat perceptions about Afghanistan need re-evaluation so that suitable changes are made in our Afghan policy. The current one, used for over the last three decades, has only resulted in greater violence and instability in both countries. Instead of creating goodwill by sheltering millions of Afghan refugees, we have only gained the hatred of common Afghans due to our policy.

The ability of Pakistani terrorists to strike has been diluted to a great extent through army operations but they are not yet finished. Insisting on having a government of our choice in Afghanistan may not be a feasible option in the prevailing environment. A government in Kabul, not hostile to Pakistan and which does not interfere in our internal affairs, should be acceptable. Threat perceptions about Indian presence in Afghanistan should also be re-evaluated; it may not be such a serious threat to our security as perceived.

Nato supplies should be resumed as per recommendations of the parliament. Pakistan should participate in the Chicago Summit and extend all possible help to the Afghan government. The government should not succumb to pressures and threats of other political parties, not representing the will of the people.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • John B
    May 15, 2012 - 10:47PM

    Stop thinking about Afghanistan, US, and India and start thinking about PAK. That is the best Afghan policy reevaluation PAK can make.

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  • Imran Con
    May 15, 2012 - 10:53PM

    India being a threat in Afghanistan is a laugh. Worst case is two countries become friends due to a perceived common enemy. If anyone thinks it will be acceptable to anyone, including Afghanistan and NATO, that India actually amasses some kind of war front in the direction of Pakistan, they have mental problems. It’s for Afghanistan. Not some super conspiracy in a delusional Pakistan-centric world. India is there to help, like Pakistan should have been in the first place and lost the chance
    It doesn’t even need to be rejected outright by most because most are well aware that India doesn’t have that intention in the first place. Pakistan just ends up looking a little dumber when it comes up.
    At best, any build up to the Afghans and NATO would be positive as a deterrent. Nobody has aggression in mind. That’s even an indirect view because that deterrent would be a bonus rather than an intention.
    Face it, Pakistan. India just isn’t an aggressor. Recommend

  • observer
    May 15, 2012 - 11:13PM

    The government should not succumb to pressures and threats of other political parties, not representing the will of the people.

    Other Political Parties not representing the will of the people- should read PTI and DPC.

    PTI and DPC, your witness. Commence your counter arguments.

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  • Abdul Jabbar
    May 16, 2012 - 2:15AM

    It is people like the ‘birgadier’ and his ilk that have brought Pakistan to this position. He writes that there should be no interference in Afghan internal matters. Little does this ‘analyst’ knows this is what exactly his former mates at the ‘shabaka’ (Afghan word for ISI) are still doing.
    we need to concentrate on our country first and get out of this ‘India syndrome’.
    For starters, we need to get rid of this govt…

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  • True Muslim Paki
    May 16, 2012 - 3:04AM

    Suddenly, all our retired majors, generals & columnists like Ejaz have changed their tone! This is not a good sign. I think they may be getting $$$’s. but surely the English media cannot change the people’s opinion.

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  • Syed
    May 16, 2012 - 7:37AM

    The government should not succumb to pressures and threats of other political parties, not representing the will of the people
    I found this last sentence of yours very funny – Question to you Mr. Asad Munir, do you honestly believe that the present govt. is adopting policies according to the will of the people and which “single party” that is or was part of the govt. is siding or talking about or going with the will of the people of Pakistan?
    Did you forget the President’s UK visit while country was devastated by the flood?
    Did you know how much money as donation was the President “able” to secure for Pakistan Flood affected victims from the so called Friends of Pakistan Campaign?

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  • Basit
    May 16, 2012 - 8:21AM

    The threat of a rogue Afghan army that is being raised by the US and is well known to be filled with infiltrators and drug addicts is a grave threat to Pakistan on the Western border. Those unwilling to admit this truth are the same ones who used to doubt the stories of American CIA contractors roaming the streets of Pakistan until Raymond Davis incident.

    And to think that Indian consulates in Afghanistan are not meant to be used against Pakistan currently and in the future is the height of naivety.

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  • Attila
    May 16, 2012 - 8:23AM

    @True Muslim Paki
    I think your retired majors, generals and columnists have finally woken up from their deep slumber. They see the fallacy of their country’s retrograde policies towards Afghanistan and maybe want to redeem themselves by stating the obvious. The English media can and will change the Urdu medium’s opinions because the deep state is propagating this tone.

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  • kaalchakra
    May 16, 2012 - 8:31AM

    Between brotherly countries borders are unnecessary. Afghanistan is Pakistan and Pakistan is Afghanistan. Buree nazar wale tera munh kaala.

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  • Zalmai
    May 16, 2012 - 5:45PM

    @Kaalchakra

    Afghanistan and Pakistan are not brotherly nations, never was and never will be. Now, more than ever Afghans are estranged from Pakistan and this feeling is prevalent among all ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Bure nazar is from the Pakistan side and Afghans are well aware of this and this is the reason Afghans distrust Pakistan.

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  • Afghan Perspective
    May 16, 2012 - 9:43PM

    Pakistan is compelled to change her policy. Continuation of this policy will only result in the disintegration of Pakistan and more bloodshed in the region. Pakistan military establishment should understand that Afghanistan will never be thier client state. Therefore, They (military) should dismantle all terror infrastructure and neutralize the threat posed by the its erstwhile extremist allies, which it had groomed for its nieghbors.

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  • Saleemrz
    May 18, 2012 - 11:31PM

    Pakistan should restrain itself to its boundaries and take care of borders then we will prosper and live happily thereafter…..what a dream!

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