The meeting of Pakistan, China and Russia over the growing threat of militancy in Afghanistan could prove highly effective if a strategy for convincing regional and international players for changing and amending their policies is chalked out.
The third trilateral gathering would be held on December 27 in Moscow at a time when controversies among regional countries, as well as international players are on the rise, with Afghanistan’s internal situation turning more dangerous for the region.
The situation in Afghanistan has been affecting Pakistan internally for long but it is now perceived more threatening for Central Asia, Russia and China as well. Several dangerous attacks occurring in Pakistan were claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, its splinter groups, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Daesh — all of them now operating from Afghanistan’s soil.
The international communities’ worries were augmented after the Taliban attack on Kunduz which took place with the help of foreign militants, including fighters from Central Asia, last year. In addition, the militants including Tajiks, Kazakhs and Uzbeks from the Jundallah group started gathering in strategically important Badakhshan and Jawzjan provinces. The militants allegedly fled to northern Afghanistan after 2014 when Pakistan launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan, the country’s largest tribal agency bordering Afghanistan. Furthermore, Daesh in Afghanistan is posing threats to the all regional countries including Iran, India and Afghanistan while Pakistan is already its target.
Despite the critical situation, the bashing game among Afghanistan, India and Pakistan has intensified. The Russian Federation and the US are also blaming each other for troubling in Afghanistan. While, ties between China and the US are not smooth. Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, in April expressed concerns over growing number of IS militants in Afghanistan. According to Moscow, the gathering of Daesh is not for war in Afghanistan but for destabilising Central Asia against Russian interest.
Kabulov even blamed the US for targeting only those Taliban who are opposing IS/Daesh in Afghanistan. Similarly, Russia is being blamed for supporting Taliban against IS in Afghanistan. The US attack on the Taliban chief — when Pakistan was busy for organising talks between them and Kabul — has further enhanced the mistrusts. A US drone killed Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor under the pretext that he was staunchly opposing talks with Kabul. The claim is contradictory to the fact that the Taliban held talks with Afghan officials in 2015 in Murree, a hill resort in Pakistan, under the leadership of Mansoor. The attack against Mansoor was followed by a report that claimed a meeting was set up between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, Afghanistan and India are being blamed for supporting anti-Pakistan militants including the TTP, and Pakistan is being blamed for supporting militants against India in Kashmir. The Pentagon in its report, released last week, claimed that the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban, who launch attacks in Afghanistan, are moving freely in Pakistan, and have safe havens there. The rhetoric is in fact hollow as a whole, though misunderstanding could be a possibility.
Is it not true that the leadership of the TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar and other groups who claimed attacks in Pakistan are based in Afghanistan? Is it not clear as to who supported anti-Pakistan militants in Nangarhar? Then attacking the militants in Afghanistan in a way to push them to Balochistan, vital for strategic project of the CPEC, is further creating doubts over sincerity against terrorism.
Indian premier Modi’s support to Baloch separatists and violence is an open secret. The video lecture of Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval expressing his nefarious designs of interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs was viral on social media a year ago. Even the Afghan National Directorate of Security and Raw is being blamed for supporting the anti-Pakistan groups in Afghanistan.
Yet, no one can deny that Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in Balochistan. And if it comes to UN sanction lists then all are aware that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a banned outfit and its Chief, Hafiz Saeed, is a declared terrorist. He openly launches campaign and protests in Pakistan? Allegedly, Afghan leaders of the Taliban in Pakistani part are dubbed the Quetta Shura.
China is also perturbed about the instability in the region in addition to its fears for Chinese militants’ safe haven in Afghanistan. The regional countries have special stake in the stability of the Pak-Afghan region for interconnectivity of Central Asia to South Asia.
In such a situation the trilateral meeting is a positive step. It was in this backdrop that two meetings of the three countries were held in Beijing and Islamabad, earlier.
The regional and intra-regional efforts for stability in Afghanistan have, so far, failed to stabilise the country. The military alone is not an answer to terrorism. Sophisticated militaries of over 60 countries led by powerful America have failed to stabilise Afghanistan in the last 15 years. The military in Pakistan and India also cannot achieve the desired results if the regional situation was not addressed politically.
If the military is not the answer, then what is the solution to the ongoing row of terrorism? This is the answer that all the regional countries and international powers know better but, so far, they have done nothing beyond blames and mourns. The state of denial should be ended now.
All players are aware that the epicentre of the current row of terrorism is Afghanistan, where all the regional and international players including the US and Russia are blamed for proxy war. Some of the Taliban elements are in Iran as well. It is not logical that blaming and grilling Pakistan alone would improve the situation.
The best option would be to influence the regional countries to be ready for shift and implement the outcome of the sixth Heart of Asia (ministerial) conference, in which all parties agreed to ban the militant organisations in the region and cut them off of their support.
And if that decision is not being implemented by the regional countries and the US, then no country should claim that peace in Afghanistan is the goal, and openly accept that terrorism is part of the ‘great game’.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2016.