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International Conference

US Exit from Afghanistan: Challenges and Options beyond 2014

[Islamabad 6th & 7th March, 2013]




Edited by


Organized by


[Department of International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies]

National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Pakistan


Rectors Address
Maj. Gen. Masood Hasan, Rector, National University of Modern Languages,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
Introduction of the Conference and Concept of Main Theme
Prof. Dr. Z. A. Qureshi, Head of Department, International Relations,
Peace and Conflict Studies, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.
Key-Note Address
Prof. Dr. Tahir Amin, Director, National Institute of Pakistan Studies,
Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad, Executive Director, Higher Education Commission, Islamabad.
H. E. Mohammad Omer Daoudzai, Ambassador, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
[Guest of Honour]

H. E. Richard G. Olson, Ambassador of the United States of America.
[Guest of Honour]
Inaugural Address
Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretary, Government of Pakistan


[US Drawdown and Available Options]
USA and NATO Forces Withdrawal and the French Policy:
Between Hope for Peace and Fear of ongoing War in Afghanistan
Prof. Christian Vallar, Dean of Faculty of Law and Political Science,
University of Nice, Sophia Antipolis, France
US Exit from Afghanistan and the Quest for a Political Solution
Professor Emeritus Marvin G. Weinbaum, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, United States of America.
[US Exit Strategy: Global and Regional Implications]
Military Withdrawal: Prospective Scenarios for Afghanistan and the Region
Dr. Maqsood-ul-Hasan Noori, Advisor, Centre for Contemporary Studies,
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Implications for Pakistan
Dr. Nazir Hussain, Associate Professor, School of Politics and
International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Afghanistan Exit Strategy: Implications for Pakistan
Dr. Maria Sultan, Director General, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
[Pakistans contribution towards Peace, Security and Stability in the region]
The Role of Afghan Factor on Pakistan and Regional Peace
Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ansari, Visiting Faculty, Department of International
Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, National University of Modern Languages,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
Pakistan A Catalyst of Peace in Afghanistan
Mr. Salim Safi, Anchor of GEO TV Program Jirga (Pakistan)
Pakistans Quest for Stability in Afghanistan and the region
Prof. Dr. Pervez Iqbal Cheema, Dean, Faculty of Contemporary Studies,
National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan.


[Post-US Exit scenario and new regional alignments]
Implications of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in terms of destabilization
Mr. Muqarrab Akbar, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
Perceived Indian Role in Afghanistan in Post-2014 Scenario
Dr Tabassum Firdous, Assistant Professor, Center of Central Asian Studies
University of Kashmir, Indian-held Kashmir.
Perceived Chinese Role in Afghanistan in Post-2014 Scenario
Dr. Mohammad Khan, Chairperson, Department of International Relations,
National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Iran in the Post-2014 Regional Power-Play
Prof. Ijaz Khan, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar,
Concluding Remarks
Ambassador Gheorghe Savuica, President, Institute of European-Asian Studies,
Bucharest, Romania.
Rapporteurs Report
Mrs. Sameera Riaz, Visiting Faculty, Department of International Relations,
Peace and Conflict Studies, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.
Recommendations of the Conference
Prof. Dr. Ijaz Khan, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar,
Pakistan and Head, Recommendations Committee of the Conference.

Maj. Gen. Masood Hasan

It is my pride that the Department of International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies has
organized this two-day International Conference and was able to bring in a few but very
important scholars from the United States, UK, France, Romania and Indian-held Kashmir.
Every participant in the four academic sessions is likely to present quality papers during the
two days of the conference and the Question-Answer session is likely to be the most interactive and hard-hitting.
So I take this opportunity to congratulate the Department of International Relations, Peace
and Conflict Studies and the whole Team of Organizers who have not only met international
standards but are able to attract high profile personalities from different walks of life and
shades of opinion including academicians, researchers and students of different Universities
based in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
I am positive and confident that the able Team of Organizes in the Department of
International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies would be able to collect all the papers
later from the scholars after they have been revised and updated for publication as
Proceedings of the Conference.
I shall be failing in my duty if I do not acknowledge the active support of Higher Education
Commission, Islamabad, Askari Bank, American Institute of Pakistan Studies and the
Embassy of United States of America to make this Conference a great success.

With the Netherlands withdrawing its combat troops in August 2010, Canada in July 2011,
France in December 2012, United States 33-thousand surge troops in early 2012 and UKs
conventional force levels falling down to around 5,200 by the end of 2013,1 the stage was set for
withdrawal of US-NATO forces from Afghanistan. The remaining 66 thousand US combat forces
in Afghanistan are due to leave by the end of 2014.
However, Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed the
confidence that enough US troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to accomplish the threepart mission agreed by allies at last years NATO Summit in Chicago. Talking to reporters while
reroute to Afghanistan for a change of command ceremony for International Security Assistance
Force [ISAF] on 9th February, 2013, he said Afghan forces are expected to take over the lead role
for security in Afghanistan this Spring. The international force plans to hand over full
responsibility for security to the Afghans by the end of 2014, with most of the international
combat forces being withdrawn.2
The US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta outlined American position on Afghanistan while
addressing a joint news conference with Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak in Washington on
30th November, 2012 and stated:
The fundamental mission in Afghanistan is to establish a nation that can secure and govern
itself and ensure that Al-Qaeda never again finds a safe haven within it from which it could
conduct attacks on the United States or any other country. The goal here is an enduring presence,
therefore, that will direct itself towards important missions:
One is counter-terrorism to ensure that the US continues to go after whatever al-Qaeda targets
remain in Afghanistan. Although we clearly have had an impact on their presence in Afghanistan,
the fact is that they continue to show up and intelligence continues to indicate that they are
looking for some kind of capability to be able to go into Afghanistan as well.3
The negotiations are underway on the presence and role of US troops in Afghanistan beyond
2014 and a plan for a Contingency Force as part of troop drawdown in which US should take a
lead in establishing such a force under the flag of NATO or as a new coalition, concerned with
security and stability in Afghanistan. A proposal under consideration by Obama administration is
that some Special Forces stay behind in Afghanistan to work in an advisory or training capacity.
Any such US residual force will have limited role with additional US military, used primarily as
force protection and protecting US and international trainers. The residual force option is mainly

related to the support for training efforts and counter-terrorism operations against transnational
terrorist groups.
According to US Officials, Obama administration plans to keep 05 thousand to 12 thousand US
troops in Afghanistan after 2014, confined mostly to fortified garrisons near the capital, leaving
Afghan troops largely without American Advisors in the field to fight a still-powerful insurgency.
This is substantially smaller force than the 15-thousand troops which senior Commanders have
sought to keep after most of the troops leave in the next two years. The plan has already run into
snags at Pentagon where some Commanders say more US troops are needed. This significantly
limits what can be accomplished.
US Military Commanders argue that a sizeable military presence is needed in the south and east
where the insurgency remains the strongest and to provide enough forces to protect American
diplomats and aid workers outside Kabul.
Commanders also say a US decision to slash troop levels will make it more difficult to persuade
fiscally strapped allies in Europe to contribute more than a token number of troops.
General Johan R. Allen, the former top Commander in Afghanistan favoured keeping most of
the 68-thousand US troops through the next summer to give Afghan forces as much help as
possible before they take responsibility for battling the insurgency at the end of 2014. In his
address and a report to an American Think Tank, Centre for New American Security [CNAS]
General Allen has expressed the view that final decision about Afghanistan is not possible
without Pakistan. He warned that the hastiness in withdrawal from Afghanistan is fraught with
dangers. He expressed the hope that United States will station its troops even after 2014.
However, it will have to decide its number and duration of stay. He was of the view that large US
forces will be needed for demining and special operations and to train Afghan National Security
Forces [ANSF]. In his report, General Allen said that Obama administration will have to initiate
dialogue and consultation process with Pakistan as Islamabad has to play a significant and key
role in the Afghan situation.4
In 2013, the United States could start contingency planning by delaying the troop withdrawal of
around two thousand forces until the end of the fighting season of 2013 to complement the
transitioning of NATO-ISAF forces.
The US lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to make and announce a decision
on the size of the US military force to remain in Afghanistan, following the combat withdrawal
in 2014. Mr. Robert Menendez, Chairman, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said:
Afghans who may otherwise be interested in building a fledging democracy want to know that
they will not be abandoned by the United States as the Taliban claims they will be.

Mr. James Dobbins, US Administrations Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
told the Senate Committee that the Afghans actually need us to stay and we have promised to
stay, following an agreement on our presence in Afghanistan. The current Afghan President,
Hamid Karzai wants a more formal defence commitment, akin to a treaty which the United
States is unwilling to provide.
For its part, United States wants freedom of location and movement for Afghan-based special
operations forces and CIA personnel to continue counter-terrorism missions against remaining
al-Qaida and affiliated forces,
The US lawmakers suggest that an administration announcement of a tentative force structure,
even before an agreement is finalized, would reassure Afghans of on-going US support as they
move towards the crucial vote to replace Karzai.5
The proposed agreement has already run into snags. While most of the issues have been settled
and the matter of legal immunity for American troops which detailed similar talks with Iraq in
2011 is already set but the two sides now find themselves struggling to bridge the divide on a
pair of demands that Mr. Karzai says must be met and that the Obama administration says it
cannot or will not consider. The first is Mr. Karzais insistence that the United States guarantee
Afghanistans security as it would if the country were a NATO ally. That could compel the
United States to send troops or raids into Pakistan, an ally of Washington and a nuclear-armed
power. The Afghan leader is also refusing to allow American forces to continue hunting for
operative of Al-Qaida here. Instead, he wants any intelligence gathered by the United States
handed over to Afghan forces, who could then conduct the raids on their own. If the Americans
are unwilling to meet both conditions, they can leave, Mr. Karzai told the British Broadcasting
Corporation in an interview. The Obama administration has made it clear that it may do just that.
American officials have set an October 31 deadline fro striking a deal to keep troops here.6
On the other hand, Afghan Taliban Supreme Leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar has rejected the
proposed US-Afghan security pact and said Afghans will not accept it. The statement came a day
after President Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State, John Kerry agreement on some parts of
the Bilateral Security Agreement [BSA] which left the issue of providing immunity to the US
soldiers unresolved. Mullah Omer said The invaders and their allies should understand that the
strategic agreement will be accompanied by grave consequences for them. Their decisions are
not acceptable. The invaders should know that their limited bases will never be accepted. The
current armed Jihad (religious battle) will continue against them with more momentunm.7
As many as eight newly designed units, called security force assistance brigades will replace an
equal number of US Army brigade combat teams in Afghanistan by Spring. Instead of 3,500 to
4,000 soldiers in a normal brigade, they will be deployed in some instances with only 1,200

Two massive bases that United States built in Kandhara and Helmand in two southern provinces
where the Taliban are strongest, are likely to turn over to Afghan control besides a string of US
combat posts near the eastern city of Jalalabad, a key staging ground for military operations
along the Pakistan border.
The US forces that stay behind are likely to operate mainly from Bagram air base, the sprawling
installation, 25 miles north of Kabul and a few other bases near the capital. Hence, Bagram will
become a hub for US special operations teams charged with tracking and killing members of
Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the chief US military mission after the drawdown. Bagram
will also be the main air base for US drones and other combat aircraft in Afghanistan.
In most of the country, Afghan troops and security forces will be left to fight on their own against
the Taliban and its allies.
Despite spending over US $ 20 billion on training and equipping Afghan National Army, only
one of the Afghan Armys 23 brigades can operate independently without US or allied air support
and other assistance. This was also confirmed in a Pentagon report released on 10 th December,
2012. 8
The current NATO drawdown calendar [2011-2014] was based more on domestic and political
agendas than on-the-ground security. The result has been an extremely tight and relatively
inflexible transition calendar which leaves few options to respond to potentially changing
security dynamics or attacks by various Taliban insurgent groups.
Domestic political pressure for a rapid drawdown inside the United States, other NATO countries
and Afghanistan has been reinforced by a number of key factors:
In the US and NATO countries, there are calls for an end to the war and return of the troops,
combined with a repositioning towards concerns in the Middle East [particularly Iran and Syria
but also Yemen). Simultaneously, officials in the United States and other NATO countries have
become increasingly disillusioned with the Karzai Government and concerned about the deeply
troubling inside attacks on NATO troops. These political dynamics have created real pressures
for a fast-paced troop withdrawal confirmed by the US Senate, voting in favour of an
accelerated withdrawal and a neglect of a larger consideration of the security risks related to
the upcoming fighting season.
The question is why a Contingency Force is needed ?
Firstly, a Contingency Force would provide an additional guarantee for the safety of foreign
interests, infrastructure and staff such as the diplomats at Consulates and embassies, should these
come under attack. The coordinated attack on the US embassy in Kabul in September 2011 and
the Indian embassy bombings in Afghan capital in 2008 and 2009 are sufficient cases in point.


Secondly, the Contingency Force would offer a safety valve while Afghan National Security
Force [ANSF] grow in number, strength and confidence in an environment that will remain
uncertain and unstable for the foreseeable future.
The most crucial question is will ANSF be able and willing to respond to serious insurgent
attacks before and after the transition of 2014 ? The answer is not very encouraging because
despite progress in some areas, particularly in handing over responsibilities to ANSF as planned,
there is a risk that increased insurgent activity in the south or elsewhere in Afghanistan could
lead to unmanageable situation. The actual strengths and weaknesses of ANSF are not the
essential point. What should be the focus is proper planning to respond to the possibility that
ANSF could be confronted by a manner or level of insurgent attacks in the South that means
they cannot hold the country together. Since the build up of ANSF is such a key element of the
transition plan (and exit-strategy) narrative, we see a dynamic that any public discussion of
possible future failure of ANSF and planning for that contingency, is considered off-message.
This could ultimately lead to a failure of the entire transition project.
The actual current strengths and weaknesses of the insurgency are also not particularly relevant
to the calculations that a Contingency Force is needed. Contingency planning does not depend on
a complex debate on the current strength of the Taliban and ANSF; one need only that the
Taliban could produce a new security dynamic which could most likely be focused on southern
Afghanistan. Possible scenarios could include blockading the Kandhar-Kabul road or the road
between Kandhar and Lashkar Gah, a move into the suburbs of Kandhar city, taking over
Lashkar Gah and blocking the bridges over the Helmand River or gaining control of the Spin
Boldak border crossing. The complex coordinated attack on Camp Baston in September 2012,
resulting in the destruction of six AV-8B Harriers, death of two US Marine Corps service staff,
wounding nine others and damages of US $ 200-240 Million which was not anticipated by
US-NATO-ISAF forces, another coordinated attack with explosives-laden vehicles on Forward
Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad in December 2012 and suicide attack on headquarters of
Afghan National Directorate of Security on 16th January in 2013, claimed by Taliban, killing
two Afghan Security Guards and wounding 30 others are to be taken into account while planning
the contingency project.9
An important factor to be kept in mind in Post-2014 withdrawal scenario is that US Army will
leave about 628 thousand pieces of equipment worth US $ 6 billion in Afghanistan, accordingly
to an Army Spokesman at the Pentagon.10
NATO handed over the lead for security around the country to Afghan forces in June last as part
of a phased withdrawal of foreign troops over the next year and a half. The hand over paved the
way for the departure of Coalition forces currently numbering about 100,000 troops from 48
At the advent of the annual Spring Offensive on 27th April, 2013, Taliban launched an attack on
the capital Kabul on 24th May, 2013, close to an Afghan intelligence facility and the headquarters


of a government force that protects foreign firms. The attack came a week after a suicide car
bombing that targeted a foreign military convoy killing 15 people including five Americans in
the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital for nearly a year.12 These developments are to be kept
in mind while contingency planning is made.
Pakistan has reportedly accepted an Afghan roadmap for peace, ending a conflict that has
claimed so many thousands of Afghan lives. Afghan Peace Councils Peace Process Roadmap
to 2015 which has not yet been made public, contains five steps:
Step One includes an end to cross-border shelling, the transfer by Pakistan of Taliban prisoners
to Afghanistan or a third country and pressure on the Taliban to sever ties with Al-Qaeda;
Step two includes safe passage for Taliban negotiators to unspecified countries, contact with
Taliban negotiators, agreement on the terms of a peace process and further delisting of Taliban
by the United States and the United Nations;
Step Three [in the second half of 2013] envisages a ceasefire. Taliban prisoners would be
released in exchange for renouncing violence. The plan proposes that Taliban could transform
into a political movement and prepare to contest elections [presumably including the Presidential
elections in 2014]. While the emergence of a political party from the Taliban is conceivable and
desirable, the hope that this could be achieved next year seems remote. There are clearly
reformers within the Taliban but many who have engaged in preliminary negotiation efforts
have been killed by hardliners or imprisoned.
Step three also contains non-elected appointments of Taliban as an incentive to reconciliation.
This will likely include critical governorships, potentially legitimizing some of the shadow
provincial government of Taliban. Appointments remain one of the primary means of patronage
in Afghanistan. So it is hard to imagine jobs not being a part of a peace deal. However,
unpalatable it may seem to those bearing the brunt of the ongoing Taliban violence against
civilizations. But the roadmap contains no red-lines here such as exclusion from government
jobs of Commanders suspected of war crimes and other serious human rights abuses. There is a
pragmatic argument for this. A peace process is more likely to last if it can defuse the enmity
created by atrocities committed by both the Taliban and the government.
This year, the Taliban cited the corruption of the Afghan government as a reason for not
negotiating with them. A majority of Afghans tend to support calls for justice and accountability
but it is not until Step Four of the roadmap when the real deal-making has already been done that
the Afghan government plans to mobilize support from its citizens. There is much more that
the government could do now to reassure its citizens particularly women that their protection
is the primary level of any peace agreement.
The roadmap though does not even mention women until the final paragraph, when a
government pledge to uphold constitutional guarantees of freedom is repeated. Given President
Hamid Karzais proclivity for casting off womens rights when there is a political incentive, this


is not enough and certainly does not measure up to the Tokyo declaration of July 2012 which has
far stronger promises to respect rights. So the roadmap may be the more accurate indicator of the
governments commitment to women.
In Steps four and five, the roadmap talks of international support in implementing the peace
process. It would have been better if it allowed for international monitoring of the peace process
and its implementation, with a place for women at the negotiating table. This is the area where
the Taliban are active and where the roadmap might formalize their power that women in public
life are most at risk.
There are fears, particularly among the women what will happen after 2014 when US-NATO
combat troops leave. The women feel that when Taliban come to power after 2014, they will kill
those who are working with the Government. The Head of Women Affairs Department in
Laghman province, Ms Najia Sediqi was killed by gunmen in December 2012, five months after
her predecessor was assassinated by the Taliban.
Persuading Taliban to embrace politics over violence and equality over segregation will take
more than prisoners release and government jobs.
The international community should make sure that the roadmap does not abandon justice. If
peace rewards all Taliban Commanders, no matter how terrible their crimes and does not make
room for women in the process, this roadmap could be a dead-end for human rights.13
Geo-political consequences of loosing the south, any serious defeat of ANSF forces or a
considerable loss of terrain to the insurgency before or following the 2014 transition would not
only be symbolic triumph for the Taliban but it could also completely reconfigure the power
structure in Afghanistan and the region. The Geo-political consequences of loosing the south or a
similar such scenario would be significant, not the least of which would be the destabilizing
effect on the wider region, particularly Pakistan where it could provide a boost for the
At the same time, tense situation prevails between United States and Russia, following the
announcement of withdrawal of combat forces of US-NATO from Afghanistan by 2014.
Russia does not want stationing of Special Forces, Drone missiles and US Trainers after 2014 as
the Russian President, Vladimir Putin is very enthusiastic to maintain close relations with Central
Asian Republics [CARs]. But Uzbekistan a strong regional country does not agree to the
Russian view. Russia is currently allowing US-NATO supply to Afghanistan from its soil.
In October 2012, Russia signed a new 30-year agreement with Tajikistan to ensure its bases in
the country. It is also enhancing the number of its current seven-thousand soldiers on the base.
A month before, President Putin signed a 20-year agreement with Kyrgyz Republic to maintain
air base in the republic.14


Predicting instability once NATO-led troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the next
year, Russia is considering deploying border guards on the Tajik-Afghan border. Russian
Ambassador to Kabul, Andrey Avetisyan said in Russian embassy on 17 May, 2013 that Moscow
is increasingly concerned by what it describes as the combined threat of narcotics and terrorism
reaching Russia through Central Asian countries and we prefer to tackle this problem on the
Afghan border to stop these threats.
Russian border guards used to patrol the Tajik frontier with Afghanistan ever since its
independence but left in 2005. The Russian envoy expressed the view that it would be in the
interest of both Russia and Tajikistan and even Afghanistan if Russia is present there but such
any border troop deployment would, of course, have to be agreed upon with Tajikistan.
Intensifying violence across Afghanistan, less than two years before foreign combat troops
withdraw, has sent tremors of worry across Russia.15
Russia and China desire that Central Asian Republics remain at a distance from United States.
At the same time, China is engaged in enlisting support of its staunch ally, Pakistan to exercise
control over Taliban through the mechanism of Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Another regional player, India is ensuring its presence in the area by setting up its military base
in Tajikistan and signing contracts of hydrocarbon minerals with Kazakhstan.
On the other hand, United States called India as as essential partner in Afghanistan. During his
first trip to India, US Vice President, Joe Biden said it shares New Delhis view about an Afghanled peace process that results in a democratic, peaceful and stable Afghanistan is the core
outcome that we are looking for.
At the State Department, Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that the United States wants
all of Afghanistans neighbours, everybody in the region, to play a constructive role to help
Afghanistan as it moves towards a peaceful, stable, democratic, united system. So weve been
clear about that and will continue to be, no matter who wins the elections going forward.
Meanwhile, Afghan President, Hamid Karzai approved a new law governing next years
presidential and provincial elections, an important step towards a smooth transition of power in
2014 and final withdrawal of all remaining foreign combat forces from the country. The law was
earlier approved by Afghan Parliament which defines the legal framework for the elections. The
law was supported by Afghanistans international sponsors who made holding free and
transparent elections a key requirement for their continued funding. In early July, representatives
from 40 countries reaffirmed pledges of US $ 16 billion in support for Afghanistan but cited
approval of two new election laws as a condition. The other law defining the role and structure of
the countrys electoral watchdog and election commission was passed by Afghan President


The balloting for a new President and Council Members for Afghanistans 34 provinces will be
held on April 05, 2014. President Hamid Karzai whose second five-year term ends next year,
cannot seek a third term under the law.
But violence has not abated around the country and the Taliban and other insurgents,
emboldened by the withdrawal, have increased attacks against Afghan security forces, especially
in places where coalition forces have already withdrawn.16
The Taliban leader, Mullah Omer has already rejected the upcoming Presidential elections
scheduled for April 2014.
In this scenario, Afghanistan is becoming the hotbed of New Great Game in the area. There is a
theory that 9/11 events were, in fact, part of this New Great Game.
However, with these introductory remarks, the platform is open for the scholars drawn from
home and abroad to deliberate on the main theme: US-NATO Exit from Afghanistan:
Challenges and Problems beyond 2014 and on the 04 sub-themes of the Academic Sessions viz.

US Drawdown and available Options

US Exit Strategy: Global and Regional Implications
Pakistans Contribution towards Peace, Security and Stability in Afghanistan
Post-US Exit: Afghanistan and new regional scenario


Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 12 July, 2013

Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 10 February, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 01 December, 2012
Daily Mashriq, Peshawar, 02 June, 2013.
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 13 July, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 12 October, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 14 October, 2013
Daily National Heritage Tribune, Islamabad, 13 December, 2012
Daily Jang, Rawalpindi, 17 January, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 07 March, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 21 July, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 25 May, 2013
Op. cit. 15 December, 2012.



Daily Jang, Rawalpindi, 08 December, 2012.

Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 18 May, 2013
Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, 21 July, 2013

Professor Dr.TAHIR AMIN

I wish to address three fundamental questions:

What is the significance of the US and NATO forces exit from Afghanistan at the
end of 2014?


What alternative scenarios one can conceive in the wake of US and NATO powers
withdrawal from Afghanistan ? and


What should be Pakistans Afghan policy?


My principal arguments are as follows:


The US and NATO powers have been driven to the reconciliation process in Afghanistan
by the logic of circumstances. Their failure in Afghanistan signifies the complexity of
world politics in the post-Cold War era which is not captured by the existing theoretical
paradigms of International Relations.


If a new peace deal is not finalized among the contending parties before the US
withdrawal in 2014, it will spell disaster for Afghanistan, South Asia and the World.


Pakistan should seize this unprecedented historic opportunity to accomplish the peace
deal among the warring parties. It should avoid the repeat of the scenario when the
Soviets left Afghanistan and civil war engulfed the country.

The significance of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 can hardly be underestimated. It
reminds me of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988 when the Soviet commander was
asked not to look back after crossing the Bridge of Oxus River and when questioned by the
correspondent how he viewed the Soviet defeat, his answer was historic: What has happened to
us is nothing new, the same thing happened to the British in Afghanistan, French in Algeria and
Americans in Vietnam. So, we find ourselves in the company of the Great Powers. Now, I am
sure that thoughts of American Commander would be no different than his Russian counterpart.
The official US view holds as the American President declared that the US wishes to bring a
responsible end to the Afghan War.
US and NATO powers have embarked upon a transition programme to hand over the task of
security to the Afghan National Forces after their troops withdraw. The US proposes to enter into
a strategic agreement with Afghanistan, allowing US to maintain some bases and the presence of
a limited number of troops say 10,000 to continue to pursue Al-Qaeda. The US has also been
engaged in the reconciliation process with Taliban to integrate them in the existing power
structure through some power-sharing arrangements.
However, unofficial view is that it is the defeat of the US and NATO forces. Staggering
financial cost of the war, close to 700 billion dollars, increasing number of human casualties and
shrinking public support have forced the US and Western countries to withdraw from
Afghanistan and to engage in the reconciliation process with the Taliban.
The American defeat reminds one of Paul Kennedys insightful observation made in the Rise and
Fall of the Great Powers that the Great Powers decline when they over-extend themselves.
Neo-realist model, widely followed among the theoreticians and the policy-makers in the West,
does not explain the anomaly that how a rag-tag Taliban have not been defeated by the Worlds
most advanced armies of the United States and Europe.


How religious and cultural identities have reshaped the world politics is testified by the
American failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Burning of the holy Quran on one side and the
increasing attacks by Greens on Blues are not merely disciplinary problems of two armies but
these events reflect the tenacities of the contending religious identities which have empowered
these contending World Orders in the post-Cold War era.
Sharing the insights from the Dialectics of World Orders project co-authored by the late Prof.
Hayward R. Alker, Thomas Bierstker, and Takashi Inuguchi and myself, is the belief that there
exists multiple World Orders in the world which overlap, co-exist and inter-penetrate each other .
It is important to understand these World Orders on their own terms to understand the
complexities of the world and the only way out is reconciliation, dialogue and compromise
among the contending World Orders. Hegemonic World Order has to reconcile with the resisting
World Orders to achieve the lasting peace in the world.
Four alternative scenarios of Afghanistan have been discussed by various scholars in the wake of
the exit of the US AND ISAF forces:

Maintenance of the status quo,


Taliban victory,


Civil war and


New Peace Deal.

Maintenance of status quo seems unlikely as Hamid Karazais term is due to expire in 2014 and
he can not contest the elections for the third time as he is constitutionally debarred to contest
again. Even if he manages to get elected by amending the Constitution or gets some of his crony
re-elected, it would be hard to maintain the politics of patronage and manipulation which is being
practiced currently by his regime because the international funding would be severely limited
after the withdrawal of US and NATO powers. Afghan National Army without American support
is unlikely to withstand the onslaught of the Taliban.
Talibans victory will generate the same problems which Afghanistan had faced during its regime
in the past. Northern Alliance will continue to fight with the help of their international supporters
while the rest of the world will have great difficulty in accepting the Talibans regime in
Afghanistan and will lead to continuing turmoil in Afghanistan. Furthermore, it will have serious
implications for Pakistan where Tehreek-i-Taliban-i-Pakistan (TTP) is already active and will get
an immediate boost from such a development in Afghanistan, further complicating the security
problems of Pakistan which is faced with existential threat.


Civil War is another distinct possibility following the withdrawal of American -NATO forces in
2014. Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras will resist exclusivist Pushtun regime and different ethnic
groups will carve their own fiefdoms reproducing exactly the same situation which existed after
the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1988. The Afghan National Army will collapse along ethnic
lines and the warlords will carve out their separate fiefdoms and seek international support from
their former backers. It could lead to balkanization of Afghanistan in de facto sense.
A new peace deal among the contending parties may yet be another possibility. A Loya Jirga may
be convened where every Afghan group is represented which can arrive at a consensus on broad
power-sharing arrangements. It would primarily be an Afghan-led solution after the occupying
forces leave the country. It is my firm belief that only the indigenous Afghan-led peace process
can salvage Afghanistan from the current quagmire of chaos and instability. Pakistans Afghan
policy should facilitate this indigenous Afghan-led peace process.
Pakistans Afghan policy assumes a great significance in the wake of the announced exit of the
US and ISAF forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Pakistan needs to devise a long-term Afghan policy to help stabilize Afghanistan because it is
both in the interest of Pakistan as well as the global community.
Pakistan must avoid past mistakes which had led to Civil War in Afghanistan in the wake of the
withdrawal of the Russian forces from Afghanistan. Rather than focusing on single ethnic group,
the policy should strive to achieve a broad-based understanding among all ethnic groups of
Afghanistan. Pakistan should not adopt a go alone policy but must closely coordinate it with the
other regional powers viz. Iran, India and Central Asian states, China, Russia and United States
and the Western powers.
It will be a grave mistake if Pakistan waits for the exit of the US and ISAF forces because
Afghanistan will most likely stumble into another Civil War without a peace deal among the
contending parties in Afghanistan.
Although Pakistan has so far remained largely marginal to the developments in Afghanistan in
the wake of the American invasion of Afghanistan but with the failure of the US-NATO forces in
Afghanistan, Pakistans role has potentially become very important and critical in determining
the direction of political developments in Afghanistan.
It is premature to speculate whether status quo will continue in Afghanistan or Taliban will
achieve victory replacing the existing regime or a new Civil War will break out among different
ethnic groups or balkanization of Afghanistan will result but one thing is certain that Pakistan is
destined to play the most significant role because of historic interdependence, shared borders,
ethnic overlap and mutual relations between the two countries.


Pakistan must seize this opportunity to facilitate a consensus among all ethnic groups for an
inclusive government in Kabul with proportionate representation of all ethnic groups of
Historically, Afghanistan has been a Pushtun state but the biggest American mistake in the postBonn arrangements has been to exclude the Pushtuns from the power-sharing arrangements in
Kabul and to accord a disproportionately high share to other ethnic groups viz. Tajiks, Uzbeks
and Hazaras who had come together under the umbrella of Northern Alliance.
Many visiting American policy-makers openly admit their hostility to the majority Pushtun
group and claim that it was up to the Pushtuns to prove their loyalty to the occupying forces and
the regime installed by them in Afghanistan. This arrogant imperialist attitude has been the most
significant factor in continuing alienation of the Pushtuns and the resurgence of Taliban
insurgency in Afghanistan.
Pakistan should make it a cardinal principle of its policy that there should be an inclusive
government in Kabul with adequate Pushtun participation that is recognized by all stake-holders.
Pakistan should support a principled approach that there should be a broad-based power-sharing
arrangement among all ethnic groups of Afghanistan. It should fundamentally be an Afghan-led
process without any interference from any outside power.
Pakistan is justifiably worried over the extensive Indian involvement in Afghanistan because of
its fear of encirclement from both the eastern and western fronts. Indo-Afghan Strategic
Agreement signed in October 2011 is a source of additional worry for Pakistan as it gives India a
far greater role in the capacity building of Afghan Police and the Armed Forces. Besides, United
States is encouraging Indian involvement in Afghanistan to neutralize Pakistans natural
advantage. But India has serious limitations in building its influence in Afghanistan as it neither
has a shared border nor such an interdependence which Pakistan enjoys with Afghanistan.
Pakistan should, therefore, pursue a policy of consulting all regional powers that have the
potential to destabilize Afghanistan through their proxies. It should closely coordinate its policy
with Iran, another very important player in Afghanistan and the Central Asian states and should
not wait until the exit of the US-ISAF forces from Afghanistan but should strive for a new peace
deal among all the contending groups of Afghanistan.


Dr Mukhtar Ahmad
We never had such thing like terrorism this word is new for people silting of my age group
here, but of course for youth its common word. I think the most important lesson which I learnt
from my learned speakers is that learning the lesson basically.
What happened, when in the late 80s after the fall of Soviet Union, Pakistan was pushed to fight
a war, I dont want to say in the interest of particular country of course to safeguard our Afghan
brothers as half the families are living on this side while the other half families of the same tribe
are living on other side
We always see Afghanistan like our family. So Pakistan fought a war in the interest of
Afghanistan but mainly we were pushed, I dont want to question the decision of the
Government of that time that we should have done this or that; weather we should have disrupted
the balance of super powers of the world or not but that was done. But what is more important
after the fall of Soviet Union when those people with arms and ammunition were left
unattended, we see the consequences which we are facing today. The Afghans are suffering since
long by one power or the other but the lesson.
The point which I am trying to make is that seven hundred billion dollars have, I think, so far
spent on this War on Terror. If part of this amount could have been spent on constructive things
in Afghanistan, it should not have been less than Europe. So today or next year we shall be
facing the same situation.
Its good that we are talking openly because we are not politicians. What I want to share with you
is that can we afford the same situation after next 10 years ? And what about those hundreds of
thousands of people who were martyred in this whole war.
I think education could be one important long-term solution which every nation deserves
especially in this part of world. Of course, Afghanistan also deserves it.
Pakistan is committed to help Afghanistan, particularly in the higher education sector and to
build more Universities to assist the Afghan brethren to build their own system and to train the
Faculty and graduate students in Pakistan.
My request to this august gathering is not to forget the history and let us not ignore the lessons
learnt. My worry as individual Pakistani is, what happened in the late 80s, should not happen in
2014 after the withdrawal of ISAF-NATO forces and Civil War begins with its trickling effects
on Pakistan. These things should be kept in mind while pursuing the exit strategy.
I believe the solution is education and only education and we are here in Pakistan to help our
Afghan brethren


Ambassador Mohammad Omer Daudzai

A little more than eleven years ago the US-led international coalition intervened in Afghanistan
to bring to justice those behind the attack on twin towers. As an outcome, Afghanistan was freed
from the grip of Taliban and their partner terrorist organization. Since then, international
community has been heavily present and generously contributing in blood and cash to rebuild
and secure the country.
Today as I speak to you almost all key state institutions, civil and military are rebuilt. Top of
those institutions is the Afghan National Army. National Police is also catching up. They are both
well trained and equipped to stand up to the challenge. Total strength of these two institutions
stands at 350,000-strong. Such a military strength is unprecedented in our country.
Our Annual Budget based on internal revenues is crossing US $ 4 billion. And our Foreign
Exchange reserves are US $ 8 Billion this year. These are just a token of achievements. A lot
more is achieved listing of which is beyond the scope of this talk.
While achievements are there, challenges are there too. We are still faced with three growing
problems of war, drugs and corruption that are threatening our peace, stability and development.
Ten years of efforts to eradicate the two inter-connected menaces of drugs and corruption are in
vain due to prolonged war.
On the other hand, the magic year 2014 is approaching. This is the year during which both
transfer of security responsibility to Afghans and transfer of political authority to a newly elected
President should take place in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. Many are concerned that
the two major events may be too much to take place in the same year. This is why we wished that
the process of security transfer be completed this year (2013).
For the sake of focus I would like to answer the following three questions:

How urgent is peace and why ?

Role of Pakistan ? and


How Afghans view drawdown?

First of all, the question of urgency for peace:

We have always been of the opinion that there was no military solution to the ongoing conflict.
Our President right from the outset raised that call for peace and reconciliation.


For many years, we invested heavily and sometimes paid the cost to build internal consensus and
convince our international partners to support the peace process. Ultimately our efforts bore fruit
and the international community began to support the peace process as of 2010.
Let me clarify one thing here that our heavy emphasis on peace despite no positive signal from
Taliban and despite Taliban assassinating our political and religious leaders must not be
misinterpreted as our weakness or fears of Talibans take over. This is not the case. We know
Taliban cannot take over a single province. We know public support would further swing to our
side if Taliban choose to continue the war. The public which has enjoyed more freedom and a
better form of life would rise up against Taliban. Early signs of these uprisings are already there.
We know if the war continues beyond 2014, it will further strengthen our security forces and the
state itself. But we dont want that. Our heavy emphasis on peace is rooted in two concerns that
we have:

one is a human concern. Any continuation of violence will result in bloodshed. We dont
want blood of a single Afghan to be shed on either side for the sake of power and vested

The second concern is related to elections. Lack of significant progress on the peace
process will mean continuation of violence that may affect elections planned for 2014.
Taliban have proven to be cruel enough to scare away voters from participation. To scare away
people, they dont need to be in control of an area. Their presence may be sufficient.
On the question of Pakistans role in the peace process, I would like to say that it has been our
experience that there can be no meaningful negotiated settlement without cooperation and
participation of Pakistan.
In the past two years, our relationship with Pakistanis is becoming stronger and more realitybased. I can claim that relations between our two countries has been better than any time in the
past 65 years. President Karzai has visited Pakistan 14 times in the past 11 years. The same was
reciprocated by Pakistan.
The improvement in our relationship, however, has not yet contributed sufficiently to the peace
process to the level of our satisfaction. However, it was agreed in the London trilateral talks that
significant progress must be made in this regard within the next six months. I remain highly
Let me also say that the violence in Afghanistan is no longer just a problem of Afghanistan, it is
a global problem that requires regional solution and local action.


We expect our neighbors and countries in the region to understand that we want good
relationship with all of them. In return, we expect all of them to use Afghanistan as a center for
cooperation on peace and development. We call on all stake-holders to join our hands to turn the
land of the Afghans to graveyard of extremism and terrorism.
On the Afghans view on drawdown, I would like to say that Afghans would like to be in charge
of their security and sovereignty. While we greatly appreciate military and economic assistance
over the past 11 years, we welcome the planned shifting of role from combat to training and
coaching. We also welcome drawdown of the international forces before the end of 2014.
International intervention has fulfilled most parts of their mission and responsibility of rebuilding
military and civil institutions is for us Afghans to lead the journey from here.
At the same time, it is our responsibility to safeguard long-term friendship and partnership with
the international community. To this end, we have signed Strategic Partnership agreements with
US, UK, France, Germany and many other Members of NATO. We have also signed such
agreements with countries in the region and we are being negotiating one with Pakistan too.
To conclude, I must say that:

We want peace out of passion and not out of fear.

We want a negotiated settlement but we are not ready to compromise our achievements
over the past 11 years in state building.

We want any peace talk to take place between High Peace Council and
Taliban and not Taliban and Ex-warlords as that could be considered as a conspiracy
against the state of Afghanistan.


Ambassador Richard G. Olson

First, I would like to begin by thanking NUML for organizing this very timely conference and
inviting all of us to participate including the Afghan Ambassador.
The title of the conference is US Exit from Afghanistan and it seems that every one has exited
so I am hoping that there will be some recognition of United States.
What I would like to talk about is something that has come up throughout the morning. Which
perception, which, why we watch out throughout the reason, of an analogy between 1989 or
1990 or 1992, you can pick your date and 2014. We dont think that this is a correct analogy and
I would like to go through some of the reasons why we think that this is the case.
The first reason why from my perspective 2014 is not like 1989 and it is because that
Afghanistan has changed. Ambassador Daudzai has made that point repeatedly. It is important to
know that Afghanistan is the country that it was not a decade ago. We should not diminish that
challenge that a poor and under developed country can face nor we should ever state what the
international community and Afghan people have been able to achieve. Yet neither should we
deny the advancement that has been achieved.
Afghanistan is increasingly urban, substantially more connected country than ever before in its
history. Over 2/3rd of Afghans now have access to mobile phones while it was almost none, 12
years ago. Most Afghans now have access to Television and Radio. Eight times as many children
are enrolled in schools, 1/3rd of them are girls and more than 10 times as many students attend
In the past ten years, average life expectancy has increased by 16 years. That is rather an
extraordinary figure from 44 to 16. This is important fact that 60 percent of Afghans now have
access to basic health-care up from 9 percent in 2011. The maternal mortality rate has declined
again at a sounding 80 percent. Challenges remain but this is not the Afghanistan of 30 years ago
nor will the international community disengage and leave Afghans alone to hold the ground
claimed with such exertion, hard and sacrifice. More importantly, Afghans themselves will not
allow a reversal of history.
The 2nd reason why 2014 is not 1989 because of vast international framework of support for
Afghanistan. To support the Afghan people and their efforts at Bone in December of 2011, 85
countries and 15 international organizations, announced the commitment to a transformation
decade in Afghanistan through 2024. At the Chicago summit, NATO and ISAF allies committed
to provide 3.6 billion US dollars a year to sustain Afghan National Security Forces in addition to
500 million US-budgeted annually for Afghan Government. This is to help Afghan National
Security Forces to continue the fight against the armed insurgency and terrorism. And in Tokyo
last summer, the international community pledged an additional 16 billion dollars in civilian
assistance to help rebuild the country, ravaged by war. This is the most substantial level of aid


ever committed to any single country. International communitys financial and political
commitments stand out as the defining difference between 2014 and 1989.
United States and countries around the world have been committed to Afghanistans future. In
his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out the core steps necessary to complete the
transition to a sovereign unified Afghanistan.
The first step, the transition to Afghans, the responsibilities for security is well under-way.
Afghan soldiers are now leading roughly 90 percent of all operations. Thousands of our own
soldiers have returned home and by the end of this year, 34000 US troops will return home.
They will be moved in a phased approach managed by the Commander on the ground and the
military chain of command.
As our mission changes and Afghan forces grow in capability and experience, international
troops will continue to train, advise, assist the Afghans and fight alongside them when needed.
International soldiers will no longer be leading combat operations but instead shift to a
supporting role of Afghans as Afghans have demonstrated their increasing capability to lead
combat operations across the country. During President Karzais visit to Washington in January,
President Obama welcomed the Afghans desire to be given the lead role for Security across
Afghanistan with strength.
The second step in our Program: Unites States and ISAF continue a robust training effort that has
resulted in a surge, in the number of ANS troops available to take on security responsibilities. As
of February 2013, Afghan National Security Forces strength was 352 thousand, almost double in
size since November 2009. The commitments made by international community in Chicago,
support a strong, stable and sustainable long term Afghan force.
Thirdly: We are building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan: one codified in strategic
agreements and underpinned by joint commitments to combat terrorism, strengthen democratic
institutions and advance the dignity, development and rise of all Afghans. As President Obama
has said, we are building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan as Afghanistan stands up, it
will not stand alone.
We greatly appreciate in this regard the steps Pakistan has taken in recent months to strengthen
its relationship with Kabul and support a more secure, stable and prosper Afghanistan within a
safe, stable and prosper region.
Fourthly: We are building global consensus to support peace and stability in South Asia. As
President Obama has stated, we believe that Pakistan can and should be an equal partner in the
process in a way that we respect Pakistans sovereignty, interests and democratic institutions.
And then in the fifth area and perhaps the most important one that has been touched on today is
the area of reconciliation. We must work together for the purpose to facilitate and negotiate peace
in Afghanistan. As President Obama and President Karzai agreed in Washington, Afghan-led
peace and reconciliation is the surest way to end violence and ensure the lasting stability of
Afghanistan and the region. US role is to help advance such a process including by supporting an


Office in Qatar where negotiations can take place between Afghan High Peace Council and
authorized representatives of Taliban.
The end results of any process must be that Taliban end violence, break ties with Al-Qaida and
accept Afghanistans Constitution, including provision to protect the rights of all civilians,
including women and minorities. If this happens, we believe that Taliban can be part of
Afghanistans future. This must be an Afghan-led process with Afghans talking to Afghans, to
find a way forward for their country. But there is much that United States and Pakistan can do to
support this effort.
For Pakistan, supporting progress and peace in Afghanistan is not a matter of altruism but instead
a critical sovereign interest. I need only civilian and military leaders to know, we have stated
clearly and continuously that continued violence and increased instability in Afghanistan
results in increased instability and violence in Pakistan.
We agree and we are acutely aware of that access and in that regard I would applaud Foreign
Secretary earlier this morning. Sustainable peace in Afghanistan is not only good for
Afghanistan but offers the promise of significant regional development.
We are encouraged by the growing scope of engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan and
hope we can work together to advance a common vision for peace and prosperity in Pakistan and
across the region.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that the United States will remain committed to ensuring a stable
and peaceful Afghanistan. And we will continue to see US and Pakistan partnership of critical
growing importance. We also maintain cooperation with Pakistan in our joint efforts to counter
extremism, combat terrorism and protect both our people from violence.
There is much to be said about all that we can do together and we have a chance to fight together.
But at this point I would like to stop and thank you for your attention and I thank you for your


Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani

I hardly need to emphasize the importance of this conference for Pakistan. There is no doubt that
this conference and this topic is the most debated topic in many capitals today.
It goes without saying that whatever happens in Afghanistan in the coming months and after
2014 when ISAF-NATO combat troops are due to leave the country, it has profound implications
for Pakistan.
History has shown repeatedly how the destinies of our two countries are inter-linked. It is,
therefore, in our national interest to do all that we can together do with our Afghan brothers and
sisters and the international community at large to support Afghanistan in its efforts to achieve
durable peace and stability through a successful transition period and after.
The present government from the very beginning made good neighborly relations with
Afghanistan a top foreign policy objective.
Afghan President, Hamid Karzai was the only head of state to attend our Presidents inaugural
ceremony. I can say this with confidence that we have come a long way since then.
Last year alone, the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan had met more than a dozen times.
Today our bilateral relations with Afghanistan despite challenges are the best than ever and I
hope my brother Afghan Ambassador Daudzai would agree to this.
As the international forces withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, it will enter into a new and
extremely challenging phase of transition and let me make it absolutely clear that the transition is
to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
One can assume that any outside solution may be imposed on Afghanistan. Hence, Pakistan and
other stake-holders must do what they can to support this transition process.
We, on our part, are working on bilateral, trilateral and multilateral levels to support intra-Afghan
reconciliation. We have multiple forums and channels in place of dialogue co-ordination and cooperation. Three summit level meetings have been held with UK alone and the leaders have
agreed on a number of time-bound steps to facilitate the transition process.
Pakistan is also coordinating with both Afghanistan and the United States. Earlier in November
last year the Afghan High Peace Council led by Mr Salah-ud-Din Rabbani visited Pakistan. It
was an extremely successful visit in which the two sides agreed on all the points that were
discussed during the visit.
We are also extending support to cut out process to bring about reconciliation. An integral
element of Afghan transition process will be formation of Afghan National Security Force
[ANSF] which will assume full security responsibility in 2014.
Pakistan has already pledged a sum of US $ 20 million at the Chicago Summit in May 2012 for
ANSF capacity building. We have also offered training to Afghanistan in our military institutions


for the ANSF personnel. The Afghan Defense Minister recently concluded a successful visit to
military and intelligence establishments in Pakistan.
As a matter of fact at the CHECKERS SUMMIT in UK, a permanent mechanism for military-tomilitary and intelligence-to-intelligence was proposed and this mechanism we have already
forged which was in addition to many mechanisms that we had forged earlier, agreed upon
between Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve border management, trade and return of Afghan
We know what brought the international forces to Afghanistan and as the forces withdraw, we
have to ensure that the mindset of terrorism is eliminated completely. If the phenomenon remains
there, then the word terrorism and extremism will continue to haunt us. Equally importance is the
drug trade.
To control terrorism and drug trade, we must address them seriously. Pakistan was host to many
conferences on narcotics in September 2012. This underscores the importance that we attach to
this very important problem.
The drawdown will have clear significance for the Afghan economy. Pledges for financial
support, both for economic and development and reconstruction for Afghanistan as well as the
ANSF have been made by international community at many international conferences. These
pledges need to be fulfilled. Pakistan, despite its financial difficulties, is contributing towards
Afghan reconstruction and development efforts. We have allocated US $ 330 million, mostly for
projects in infrastructure, health and education sectors. Many of these projects have been
completed while the others are near completion. We have offered 3000 fully funded scholarships
to Afghan students in various fields. These include courses for Afghan civil and military officials
at our national institutions to strengthen Afghan institutional capacity.
Afghanistan has made significant progress since 2001. Today Afghanistan is a democracy with a
Constitution and other institutions including ANSF. It has better infrastructure, more Afghan
children go to schools with better health facilities available to the Afghan people.
To sustain what has been achieved so far, it is essential for the international community to
continues to support Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan have suffered enormously for
violence and conflicts for too long. It is about time for them to return to normalcy in their own
country. They deserve the right for the fulfilment of their dreams. The Afghan children have the
right to grow in normal and clean atmosphere.
We, in Pakistan are keen to work for peace and normalcy in Afghanistan. This is what our
Afghan brothers and sisters have fought for and this is what for they have waited for decades.
This is also in the interests of the region and neighboring countries.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, sky is the limit for our co-operation with Afghanistan.
We are looking forward that Afghanistan should turn the vast potentials of the region to energy
corridor for the world at large. We are also looking forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan
so that the Afghan refugees return to their homes with dignity and honour and participate in the
development of their country.


In conclusion, I will reiterate that Pakistan respects Afghanistans sovereignty and territorial
integrity. We will continue to extend every possible support and assistance to the government and
people of Afghanistan for the achievement of our shared goals of the regional peace stability and



Immediately after the attacks of September 11, 2001, President Jacques Chirac and Prime
Minister Lionel Jospin, in spite of belonging to opposing political trends, decided to send ground
and air troops to Afghanistan in solidarity with the United States of America to eradicate
terrorism and its supporters - the Taliban regime.
President Franois Holland recalled on June 14, 2012 that this mission was to:
Fight against fanaticism and blind hate and help brotherly people to find the path of
France is always concerned to act within the framework of international law, placing its action
on the basis of Article 51 of the UN Charter (right of legitimate defence) for operation under
U.S. Command Enduring freedom , and resolutions of the United Nations Security Council
creating and renewing the mandate of the NATO International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) since resolution 1386 in December 2001 adopted after the Bonn Conference.
Commitments ensuing were very heavy including both military and civilian aspects. It is
interesting to analyze them to have a just notion of French involvement. But President Holland
decided that France would withdraw its combat forces, before the other members of the coalition,
by the end of the year 2012. This means in no way abandoning its responsibilities toward the
Afghan people because the last phase of the engagement will be respected, but more a friendship
treaty between the two countries was ratified for a period of 20 years. Without forgetting the
French contribution to finding a diplomatic solution to the Afghan conflict.
The French operational involvement has been intense in the context of the military coalition
certainly, but without prejudice to civil and political aspects.
French forces have intervened in two separate operations, International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) under NATO command and under the auspices of the United Nations (code named Pamir
1 and 2) and Enduring Freedom under American Command (code names Epidote and Ares).
They represented up to 3800 soldiers on January 01, 2012, divided into three sets. Task Force
"La Fayette" in charge of the Kapisa province and Surobi district, an air force detachment, and
the Afghan Security Forces training mission including police, not to mention the "Operational
mentoring liaison team" inserted into battalions of Afghan army or neglect the logistics of the
military hospital in Kabul or the Officers present in the staff of the coalition.
Eighty Seven French soldiers were killed and 700 wounded: to this significant human cost, we
should add the great number of the mobilized troops. The Afghan theater was the main effort of


the French armies mobilizing 44% of strength dedicated to external operations ("opex") and an
additional cost that reached 518 million Euros in 2011 (481 millions in 2012). France was the
largest fifth contributor committed workforce of the 49 states of the coalition including 24
members of the European Union, the entire military apparatus comprising over 130,000
personnel to which must be added the 17,000 men of "Enduring Freedom ".
But it would be wrong to summarize the French role in Afghanistan only to its military
dimension, as important as it is. Since 2002 an action program for the country's reconstruction
has been implemented, certainly to confront with humanitarian emergencies but also to give a
new impetus to old cooperation between the two countries - the focus on health, agriculture,
water, culture and education.
Bilateral relations between France and Afghanistan date back to 1922 when French
Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA) was created, followed by that of the Boys
French High School Esteqlal in 1923 and the Girls High School Malalai in 1942. The schools
were closed in 1985 but reopened in 2002. Projects in agriculture and rural development in
Kapisa and the Surobi district were launched to boost cotton cultivation in the provinces of
Kunduz and Balkh and another for the rehabilitation of the national blood transfusion system.
The installation of the Medical Institute for Children in Kabul is another example of this
cooperation as well as the safeguarding of Afghanistans cultural heritage or the establishment of
Parliament or the training of judges of the Supreme Court or Vice Governors of provinces, not
forgetting the valuable role of the teams for civil-military cooperation working within the Task
Force La Fayette but for reconstruction projects. The total amount of the civilian aid is 240
millions in 10 years (2002-2012) with more than a half for agriculture (22%), education and
culture (17%), the rule of law and governance (9%), health (5%). At the Tokyo Conference of
July 8, 2012, France has promised an increase of 50% in its aid, even though many States
announced their help to stabilize over the next 5 years. This demonstrates that France is willing
to maintain its presence in Afghanistan despite the withdrawal of its armed forces.
The NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010 decided to transfer to Afghan authorities the
responsibility for their country in 2014, in line with the Bucharest Summit in April 2008.
President Holland wanted to speed up the withdrawal of French troops in advance on 31 st
December 2012 - a choice announced by him during the Presidential campaign and confirmed at
the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 21, 2012. Considering that the Afghan government and
the army are solidified, "the foreign presence, as was well-intentioned, must give way to the
forces of a sovereign State "(statement of Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian on July 5, 2012
at the National Assembly). At the same time, we must also recognize that public opinion was
increasingly becoming unfavorable to maintaining French forces in Afghanistan. Hence,
effective fighting troops were repatriated by December 31, 2012 and only 1400-Men remained,
a thousand of them for military disengagement logistics support and protection. France is
committed to fulfill its mission in ISAF until the end of its term in 2014. This is why it provides
since 1st October 2012, responsibility for the Kabul International Airport, the military hospital,


and the maintenance of training and mentoring Afghan Security Forces and the presence in its
staff, representing a workforce of 400 personnel.
The Franco-Afghan Friendship Treaty was signed on 27 January 2012 under the presidency of
Nicolas Sarkozy and taken over by the new Head of State, Franois Hollande who obtained the
authorization of ratification of the Parliament in July 2012. It came into force on 20th October
2012. This treaty is the first signed by Afghanistan with a State outside the region and also the
first within Franco-Afghan relations which is historical event. Concluded for 20 years, it does not
just list the areas of cooperation but refers to their five-year implementation programs (Article
1). The objective is a "balanced partnership contributing to the independence, security and
development in Afghanistan. So is it a "surge" (a term the Senate report on the bill authorizing
the ratification) of the bilateral cooperation used that has moved from a military orientation to a
civil orientation. This concerns the following areas:

Security and defense (Article 3) is in the form of training and consulting, the teaching of
French in military schools, facilitating reception of Afghan trainees and detachment of a military
to cooperate with the Afghan Ministry of Defense. These actions will be conducted within the
multilateral framework of the coalition through participation in the "NATO Training Mission
Afghanistan-Army-NTMA." However, there is no provision of assistance or automatic
engagement. In terms of internal security, France will support the creation of a National
Gendarmerie (a French gendarme will advise Chief of the Afghan National Police -ANP) and a
service in charge of protection of personalities and will assist the criminal police (fight against
drugs, forensic, youth offenders Brigade), civil security, the fight against document fraud and the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Agriculture and farming (Article 4): France provides its expertise "to achieve food selfsufficiency and export capacity, increase the standard of living in rural areas and promote
sustainable development." The 2012-2016 program provides eight priority actions including the
creation of a network of technical agricultural schools and setting up of cooperatives.

Health (Article 5) aims to "reduce the rate of maternal and infant mortality ... increase
the access to quality medical care ... improve the level of training of doctors and medical staff."
The program includes the enlargement and transformation of the French Medical Institute for
Children in Kabul. Today, the most advanced structure in medical technology into an University
Hospital and the development of a proposed medical insurance.

Education, Higher Education and Research (Article 6) are different sectors that
explains the program thoroughly. ALEM project (Support to high schools Malalai and Esteqlal)
continues to support the two French schools, whose experiences will be extended to other
institutions in Kabul and elsewhere. The creation of an inspectorate of the Ministry of Education,
requested by the Afghan authorities will be supported. Higher Education will benefit from the
project SEFA (Support for the teaching of French in Afghanistan), already started in 2004.


Twenty five teachers per year receive permanent appointments and set up a students exchange
program (only 166 enrolled for 2011-2012 in France). Training of engineers and researchers
through a partnership with the Polytechnic University of Kabul is also envisaged.

Culture and Archaeology (Article 7) deals with historic heart of Franco-Afghan

relationship, emphasizing the facilitation of activities of the French Institute of Afghanistan and
Archaeological Delegation through very long term leases. Research, heritage conservation, the
development and information are broad guidelines. The establishment of a unit in charge of
fighting the smuggling of works of art and archaeology for which scholarships are provided. The
plan also includes actions in the areas of theater, books, cinema and broadcasting.

Consolidation of institutions, or democratic governance (Article 8) involve the

commitment of France to "contribute to the training of highly qualified civil servants of the
central and territorial administrations and of the judiciary as well as the administrative staff of
two Parliament houses ". The cooperation between the two Parliaments of both the countries,
started in 2004 is a priority as well as the training of judges with the prospect of creating a school
for the local judiciary while the program indicates support for the training of administrators and
diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with scholarships.

Infrastructures (Article 9) are not forgotten: It aims at developing telecommunications,

transport, irrigation and for the production and processing of raw materials. The program
addresses the electrification of the Kapisa and extension system drinking water in Kabul
(estimated to cost of 75 million Euros).

Development of an enabling Environment for Trade (Article 10) aims at fostering

links between the private sectors of both countries and the use of the expertise of French
companies (water, transport, telecommunications).
The treaty gives the necessary facilities for French players: exemption from taxes and duties,
including the immunities similar to those granted to UN experts (arrest, jurisdiction,
inviolability). These commitments will result in a significant increase in bilateral aid by 50%
under the program from 2012 to 2016 amounting to 308 million Euros @ 50 million Euros per
year. This is a considerable effort given the budgetary difficulties in France. That is why Article 2
creates three joint Committees of senior Officials responsible for monitoring programs
established: cooperation, political and strategic, interior security. Strengthening policy and
strategic dialogue is imperative.
Indeed, the French authorities are not unaware of the realities in Afghanistan. The context of
insecurity is very much pronounced, especially since 2006, with the proliferation of terrorist acts,
from suicide attacks to internal infiltration of the security forces ("Green on Blue"), where the
priority of cooperating security without which the Treaty would be inapplicable ... add to this the


corruption that is ravaging all levels of public life, promoting backlash by insurgents who find it
easy to denounce it. This environment can not obviously be favorable for business climate.
So France also insists on Afghan commitments: "Our support can only be successful if we keep
our commitments. For our part, we pledge to keep our promises. For the Afghan side, the
commitment is of good governance, fair elections ... the fight against corruption, respect for
human rights and especially women's rights ... ".
Thus Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs on July 8, 2012 reminded that
assistance was conditional on the attitude of the Afghan partner. The French Parliament in its two
Assemblies (National Assembly and Senate) had required it.
But these critical issues will arise more drastically after 2014. A report from the Carnegie
Endowment for Peace written by Gilles Darronsoro at the end of 2012 assesses that "the Afghan
regime will certainly collapse in a few years, the withdrawal of ISAF troops resulting in
advance of Taliban since the government can only retain control of the cities and regions that are
acquired. Regime would face a triple crisis:

economic with the decrease of international aid,

political with an insecure and uncertain presidential election and

The Rapporteur to the French National Assembly on the bill authorizing the ratification of the
Treaty is also worried about: "Will the Afghan government survive after the withdrawal of
coalition forces? Nothing is safe." In particular, the question of the operational capacity of
security forces (186,000 men for the National Army) arises despite progressive increase in power
and a better structured recruitment channel (report to French Senate). In addition, the Pakistani
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said in December 2012 that they will join their Afghan brothers in
their struggle after 2014 ...
These legitimate worries lead observers and stakeholders to emphasize the ability of Afghan
reconciliation to find a political solution to this conflict.
The London Conference held on January 28, 2010 marked the beginning of the process, followed
by the adoption of the "Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program", launched this year with the
creation of the High Council for Peace, chaired by former President Rabbani to facilitate contacts
with the rebels. However, the assassination of the latter on September 20, 2011 did not interrupt
the process as in January 2012, the Taliban agreed to open a representative Office in Doha. But
it is true that on March 15, they suspended all contacts with the United States.
The American presence reminds the international character of the Afghan conflict. A third
trilateral summit (Afghanistan-Pakistan-UK) bringing together the Presidents Karzai and Zardari


with British Prime Minister Cameron in London on February 4, 2013, following two previous
meetings in July in Kabul and in September 2012 in New York has led to the involvement of the
two Presidents to conclude a peace agreement within six months and to support the opening of a
Taliban political Office in Qatar. The three leaders said "They supported the opening of an Office
in Doha for talks between the Taliban and the High Council for Peace in Afghanistan," ( stated
the official account of Downing Street). Hundreds of Taliban prisoners have also been released
by Pakistan in recent months, and both Presidents agreed to strengthen coordination of release
"to support the process of peace and reconciliation."
France is discreetly present with chantilly meetings organized by the Foundation for Strategic
Research (a think tank headed by Camille Grand) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. Three sessions have already been held in November 2011, June and especially
December 19 and 20 2012, gathering only in Afghan participants. Indeed, this was the first time
that two representatives from the Taliban Shura in Quetta attended the meeting. A total of
twenty Afghans were invited from various stakeholders: the Karzai government, communities of
Shiite Hazaras, Tajiks (with the Commander Massoud brother), Uzbeks, people that used to be
close to the former King of Afghanistan and the Taliban with the presence of experts from the
French Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence. All this remains unofficial, it is "Letting all
sides express themselves, they listen to each other and that the discussion develops in the best
possible conditions" (Camille Grand).
One of the French participants underlined the fact that the rapprochement between Pakistanis and
Afghans had helped the talks.
France is indeed well aware of the key role played by Pakistan to resolve the conflict:
"The stabilization of Afghanistan depends both on the process of national reconciliation and its
neighbours, primarily from Pakistan with which it shares Pashtun ethnicity " (report information
by J.Glavany and H.PLagnol, National Assembly, June 2009).
In geopolitics only living in the real world brings hope for the future.


Professor Emeritus Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum

US Exit from Afghanistan and the Quest for a Political Solution
Much about the American and NATO exit from Afghanistan is clear but a great deal more
remains uncertain about the next several years.
The international military presence in Afghanistan has already sharply diminished and will
continue to decline. As now projected, the current 68,000 American troops in the country will be
down to half that number by the beginning of 2014 and, at most, only a few thousand will be left
by the end of 2014. Still to be determined are how many, if any, troops from the U.S. and other
countries will be left behind to train and possibly carry out anti-terrorism operations. A
significant residual force hinges on the signing of a strategic agreement between Washington and
Kabul that creates immunity for those foreign forces remaining in Afghanistan.
In addition to shifting responsibility for security to the Afghans, there is a critical transition in
progress in the economy where the country has to absorb a massive fall off in military related
foreign spending. The international community has pledged to continue its economic and
development assistance well beyond 2014. There remains in some doubt, however, whether
donor countries and international agencies will meet their commitments. But it is the expected
transfer of political powerwith the presidential election scheduled for April 2014that may
offer the best indicator of whether Afghanistan can manage the difficult transitions it faces.
Without a political consensus emerging among Afghanistans various ethnic and regional
factions, it is doubtful that there will be sufficient political cohesion for the country to overcome
the challenges of the political transition. The distraction of infighting among political elites could
deny the country the stability it desperately needs. Overall, Afghanistans success across the
three in tandem transitions will determine whether the insurgency can be contained or,
alternatively, if a political reconciliation with the Taliban is possible and desirable. It is this quest
for a negotiated peace in the context of the impending disengagement of international forces
from Afghanistan that this paper addresses.
The following discussion examines the motives for seeking or avoiding a compromise political
settlement. It considers the incentives and disincentives at work and the strategies that have been
adopted by the U.S., Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban. It traces on-going efforts to find a
negotiated end to the Afghan conflict and why so little progress has been made to date. The
paper is especially concerned with the consequences of realizing both successes and failures in
reaching an agreement leading up to a post-2014 situation.
Competing U.S. Views on Strategy


Looking first at the United States, it is reasonable to conclude that the strategic goals that
President Obama laid out in 2009 for Afghanistan have not been fulfilled. The military surge was
to have been the centerpiece of a successful counter-insurgency against the enemy. Although
many of the limited military objectives were achievednamely the clear aspects of campaign
that were centered on reversing Taliban gains in Helmand and Kandhar provincesthe two other
components of the strategy were not implemented. They require that the Afghan Security Forces
succeed in holding those areas pacified and that an assisted Kabul government brings improved
governance as measured by the delivery of needed services and introduction of the rule of law.
This approach was intended to create a model for the rest of the country that would demonstrate
that Afghans should entrust their security and well being to the central government. It would
initiate the process of reintegrating Taliban fighters who, whatever their differences with Kabul,
would see their self-interest in breaking with the insurgency. The strategy was premised on the
belief that large portions of the Afghan public, though largely ambivalent in their loyalties, were
not yearning to have the Taliban restored to power. But to win them over would require that they
not be given the choice between the Taliban and a corrupt, ineffective government that was
unlikely to survive once foreign forces had departed.
With many of the U.S. aims at best slow to be realized, many within the White House and
Congress questioned a counter-insurgency strategy that they claimed amounted to state building.
Its goals were deemed unattainable and too expensive. These officials argued, instead for a more
narrowly based strategy focused on counter-terrorism operations that would require a far lower
commitment of troops in the country. They saw their views pushed aside when President Obama
announced a military surge in December 2009, albeit coupled with a deadline with withdrawal.
But the case in favor of counter-terrorism gained traction with concerns over how U.S. interests
could be served once the U.S. and its allies were gone. Disappointment with the results of
counter-insurgency left policy makers dreading the possibility that the heavy investment in the
U.S. longest war might be lost if the Afghan government and its political system failed in the
wake of the 2014 withdrawal. Officials in the U.S. State Department championed the idea that
the best way to avoid facing this eventuality would be to couple the drawdown of the U.S. and
coalition troops with a politically negotiated agreement with the Taliban.
During the time that Richard Holbrooke was the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and
Pakistan that reconciliation approach was quietly pursued in contacts with individuals claiming
to reflect the Talibans views towards a settlement. None were thought to be speaking directly for
the leadership in Quetta or the Haqqani family in North Waziristan but it was assumed that in
time more authentic interlocutors would emerge. (The Kabul government separately pursued
discussions with intermediaries representing the insurgent leader Gulbudeen Hekmatyars Hesbe-Islami.)
The pace of this push for commencing negotiations picked up after Holbrooks death in early
2012 and his replacement with Marc Grossman. A second track for American diplomatic efforts,


meant to complement negotiations, aimed at convincing regional countries to work cooperatively

towards integrating post-2014 Afghanistan into regional economic structures.
The thinking in the State Department, shared by many opinion makers in the U.S. was that there
could be no military victory in Afghanistan and, therefore, the conflict had to have a political
solution. The conditions were seen as being in place to make progress towards this end. It was
reasoned that with sufficient determination and the right incentives, the Taliban would enter into
serious negotiations. As conceived, the formula for a political solution was not the reintegration
of Taliban fighters district-by-district but with insurgents, a grand bargain reached with the
Taliban leadership.
The U.S. military was, however, highly skeptical that the conditions necessary to drive an
agreement with the enemy were, in fact, in place or that the Taliban were seriously interested in
a compromise settlement. In the militarys view, the only way for an acceptable outcome was
possible only if negotiations with the Taliban were conducted from a position of strength. This
would require that Afghan Security Forces be able to hold their own as American and allied
forces stand down and also that a sufficient number of U.S. troops remain to backstop the
Afghans through at least the 2013 fighting season. The American military and others were also
concerned that premature negotiations could blunt aggressive military operations and blur
whether the Taliban were enemies to be vigorously fought or legitimate negotiating partners.
And could Pakistan be asked to take a hard line against Afghans hold up within their territory if
the U.S. was entertaining the possibility of integrating them into a future government ?
Various interests in the U.S have regularly argued that the progress made since 2001 could be
reversed in a governing arrangement that incorporated the Taliban. Civil rights and womens
groups fear that improvements made in education and health areas would be compromised
through an agreement reached with the Taliban. They base their conclusions on Taliban policies
prior to 2001 and discount assertions by those claiming to represent the Taliban that a more
liberalized attitude towards women could be expected, were they to return. These same sources
insist that the Taliban now recognize past mistakes of unnecessarily alienating different segments
of the Afghan population. But there is deep skepticism among many that the Taliban are sincere
and that their ideological beliefs are compatible with Afghanistans Constitutional safeguards.
Pakistans National Interest and Pivotal Role
It has long been a widely held view in the West and among most Afghans that Pakistan has no
interest in a political settlement and that it prefers a weak, destabilized Afghanistan over which it
can exert its influence. The willingness of Pakistan to host insurgent groups on its soil is held as
evidence that Pakistan has always believed that the international project to build a viable Afghan
state and defeat the insurgency would fail.


By this reasoning, those governments with troops in Afghanistan would either eventually tire of
fighting against the insurgents or conclude that their national interest no longer required further
commitment to the country.
When that happened a force of Afghan Pashtuns, even if unable to conquer the entire country,
would serve Pakistans interests, especially by providing a buffer zone in Afghanistans south
and east.
The decision by NATO countries to withdraw has confirmed for many of Pakistans policy
circles that their patronage of the Afghan Taliban was the correct strategy.
At the same time, however, there is evidence that most Pakistani military planners have come
around to the view that a destabilizing neighbor post-2014 is not in Pakistans national interest.
Furthermore, drawing on their experiences with the Taliban when they exercised power in the
1990s and events since, military and civilian policy makers have concluded that a fully ascendant
Taliban cannot be trusted.
Most of Pakistans military and civilian policy makers have shed the illusion that a strategy
based on promoting Pashtun dominance can ensure a deferential Taliban. This is not the political
landscape of the 1990s when a largely indifferent world watched the Taliban progressively roll
over hated warlords and put their Islamic stamp on an anarchic country. In todays Afghanistan
there are many more powerful domestic stakeholders who will resist a takeover and a far more
attentive international community. Moreover, in the 1990s, there was no home grown Taliban
insurgency to be concerned about.
It is felt that were the Taliban to pursue a military victory in Afghanistan, there would inevitably
follow a protracted civil war with unknown and possibly dangerous consequences for Pakistan.
Without a negotiated peace, Pakistan has reason to fear its being drawn into a costly and
dangerous proxy conflict should Iran, Russia and India again back those forces resisting the
Taliban. Pakistan faces the prospect that millions of Afghans will again seek refuge in Pakistan,
thus putting enormous strain on a country now even less prepared to receive them than in the
Support for more inclusive power structure in Afghanistan is thus thought to be the preferred
outcome for Pakistan. Most strategists have reasoned that with the Taliban included in a coalition
government, they could check Indian influence. At the same time, being immersed in the politics
of Afghanistan would divert the Taliban from pursuing any broader Islamic ambitions. A powersharing arrangement that absorbed them in the Afghan political process could lessen chances that
the forces of extremism in Pakistan could profit from Taliban success in Afghanistan. It might
only be a matter of time before the Afghan Taliban joined with Pakistan Islamic militants in


trying to impose a Sharia on both sides of the border. Accordingly, Pakistan could be expected to
try to coax the Taliban into joining a coalition government in Kabul.

Yet until recently, Pakistan has seemed reluctant to facilitate negotiations with the Taliban. But
before Pakistan could throw its full weight behind negotiations, it has needed to feel reasonably
confident that talks would lead to an outcome that reflected Pakistans interests. Ideally, Pakistan
would want to be at the negotiating table. At a minimum, it needs to feel comfortable with the
Talibans interlocutors. It is often assumed that because Pakistan offers safe haven to Mullah
Omars mainline Taliban, the Haqqani network, and Hekmatyars Hizbe-Islami, Pakistans
Inter-Services Intelligence exercises strong influence over these insurgent groups.
In reality, the Taliban have always resisted and resented being dictated by Pakistan. Their aims as
well as strategies are not infrequently at odds. Heavy pressure on the Taliban stands the risk of
driving the Taliban into alignment with domestic Islamic militants in opposing the Pakistani
state. The Taliban still figure in Pakistans strategic planning, whether they return to Afghanistan
through a political settlement or by force of arms in a fragmented Afghanistan.
Mixed Attitudes in Afghanistan
Faced with a difficult transition and an almost certain rise in threats to Afghanistans security, the
appeal of a negotiated settlement with the insurgents has broadened. Karzai has been anxious to
explore the incorporation of Taliban elements into the political system and in early 2011 began to
reach out to the insurgents. Promise of a negotiated end to the fighting plays well among a public
exhausted after three decades of unremitting conflict. For Karzai, it offers a way to burnish his
credentials as a nationalist and peacemaker. By inviting the Taliban to participate in future
government, the Afghan President hopes to protect the system of privileges that for a dozen years
have sustained his authority. Though not expected to seek re-election as President in 2014,
Karzai hopes that with a political accommodation, the Taliban will refrain from interfering with
the election of a new President of his choosing. He faces, of course, the certain objections of
those ethnic minorities that fought the Pashtun Taliban in the 1990s and will now resist any
attempt to admit them to the halls of power.
It was to further this strategy of seeking compromise with the Taliban and to try to allay the
fears of the northerners that Karzai created the High Peace Council. He placed at its helm
Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Muhahideen leader and President, and Member of the countrys
second largest ethnic group, the Tajiks. Karzai insisted that the Council should be solely
responsible for serious negotiations leading towards a settlement.


As the U.S. stepped up its campaign to entice the Taliban to come to the negotiating table, Karzai
grew increasingly apprehensive that the Americans might conclude an agreement with the
insurgents that had little input by the Afghan government. Only reluctantly did he agree to sign
on to the idea that the U.S. and Taliban representatives might discuss terms for a possible
settlement in meetings in Qatar. He was, however, not entirely convinced by U.S. assurances
that should talks begin in earnest, it would be only a matter of time before his government would
be included.
Like most Afghans, Members of the Peace Council have long held the view that Pakistan bears
major responsibility for sustaining the insurgency. But by 2013 there were clear signs that the
traditionally deep sense of distrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan had begun to fade along
with their familiar blame game. The warming personal relations between Presidents Karzai and
Zardari were seen as testimony of the changes taking place. With American leverage possibly
receding as US forces withdrew, Pakistans stronger role in any potential settlement seemed
unavoidable. While Pakistan would not be allowed to dictate the course of negotiations, Afghan
officials were now prepared to admit that without its active support, no agreement was likely to
occur. Getting talks underway and then having the Taliban agree to compromise would require
Pakistans intervention.
Insurgent Strategies and Incentives
Mullah Omars Taliban and its allies have long argued that no serious discussions of a peace
agreement can occur while international troops remain in Afghanistan. Yet a number of
individuals claiming to be spokespersons for Mullah Omars Quetta Shura have met regularly
with Western officials. These back-channel meetings have occurred in various locations
including Riyadh, Berlin and Paris. Some supposed representatives of the Taliban were
fraudulent while the extent to which the others spoke for the Taliban core leadership was suspect.
Whether these feelers indicated that there were moderates or pragmatists among the Taliban
inner circles was not clear. What did emerge was that the Taliban were in no rush to begin
negotiations on any substantive issues. Undoubtedly, many in the leadership have argued that it
pays to wait until the withdrawal of the international forces and then pursue a military course that
if it did succeed in overrunning Afghanistan would at least put the Taliban in a stronger position
in any negotiations.
What did emerge from informal discussions with the individuals was the thinking of top Taliban
figures on certain non-negotiable positions. The Taliban apparently reject the idea of
disarmament or agreeing to a ceasefire while talks are underway. Although they seemed willing
to engage in discussions with opposition political figures in Afghanistan, they would not budge
in their refusal to meet with officials of the Karzai government. The idea of the Taliban entering
the political system or accepting the basic premises of the Afghan Constitution seemed to be
ruled out. Mullah Omar was reported to have insisted that in any new disposition of power, he be
given the position of head of state. Any possibility that foreign troops might remain, for whatever


purpose, once an agreement had been reached was rejected. The Taliban signaled, however, that
they were not adverse to receiving foreign economic and development assistance.
Yet with Pakistans facilitation, the Queta Shura agreed in early 2012 to open an office in Qatar.
But in arriving there, the Taliban representatives made it clear that they were not yet ready to
negotiate a comprehensive political settlement and certainly not with a Karzai government that
they considered illegitimate. Any talks were to be held with the Americans who were seen as
setting the pace of withdrawal. The Taliban also saw meetings in Qatar as offering the
opportunity to secure the release of a number of high profile Taliban held by the U.S. at
Guantanamo. But the Taliban resisted committing to a renunciation of their ties with
al-Qaeda a concession that the U.S. judges to be the principal sign of good intentions.
To some, there is much that is principled in the Taliban position on negotiations. They might
have been expected to take a more tactical approach in bargaining with the U.S. and others. By
suggesting a softening negotiation stance and greater flexibility, they could draw their
interlocutors into drawn out talks that extend through 2014. They could have relented and
denounced al-Qaeda as Washington demanded without there being any way to verify their
sincerity or prevent them from re-establishing contacts in the future. Creating a false sense of
optimism about chances for peace might have the effect of weakening the resolve of the Afghan
people to oppose the Taliban and also bring pressures for an accelerated departure of
international forces. But instead, the major elements of the insurgency have budged very little
from their basic demands and have shown resistance to opening substantive deliberations over
peace terms. Rather than diminishing their high profile attacks and unrelenting campaign to
extend their effective control of rural communities, these actions have continued unabated.
While many in the international community believe that there is no alternative to finding a
political solution, it could be concluded that the Taliban alone remain committed to a military
solution. If so, at least the top Taliban leaders have to be seen as true believers, incapable of
serious compromise, and determined to settle for nothing less than imposing their vision of a
Sharia state on all Afghansif not immediately then later.
The Negotiating Process
Thus, in terms of recent diplomatic activity, the prospects for a compromise agreement within the
time frame of the transition remain dim. There is no hurting stalemate that would lead both sides
to seek a settlement. Nor is one side clearly destined to prevail so that the other would be ready
to agree to the best terms it can obtain. The Taliban fight a relative low cost insurgency where a
few high profile attacks are all that is needed to give the impression that the Taliban are
relentless adversaries, probably impossible to defeat. Simple logic dictates keeping up the
pressure at least through the presidential and parliamentary elections when disputed results
could cause the prevailing political system to lose legitimacy. Still more compelling is the case
for waiting until it becomes clear as to whether the Afghan Army has the capacity to hold off
the Taliban without heavy outside assistance or whether it can even avoid breaking up once its


foreign mentors are gone.

Past experiences of the U.S. in negotiating with the Taliban do not give much reason for
optimism. In the late 1990s, several meetings took place between American officials and the
then Afghan foreign minister. The issue at the time was the rendering up of Osama bin Laden by
the Taliban to face trial for terrorist activities. On every occasion when there appeared to be
some agreement on a possible deal, it was shot down by Mullah Omar and his confidants in the
Kandahar Shura. Earlier discussions on creating a federated government in Afghanistan that
would involve sharing power with the leaders of the opposition, Northern Alliance had a similar
fate. In all of the talks, it appeared that the Taliban felt that they would ultimately prevail without
making concessions because they had time and God on their side.
Pakistans Cooperation
Washington and Kabul have both welcomed increased Pakistani cooperation in finding a political
solution to the Afghan conflict. All three can agree that a negotiated political solution offers the
best of the possible outcomes.
Pakistans willingness to release more than two-dozen Taliban-held prisoners with the promise of
freeing more is seen as demonstrating a significant shift in Pakistans attitude towards a
settlement. However, it has not brought the release thus far of the highest-ranking Taliban leader
among the 100 Pakistan still holds. Mullah Abdul Baradar who is believed to be the most
independent minded among the leaders and possibly the least trusted by Pakistan remains in
custody. Reportedly, within just a few months, following their release, at least half of those freed
had rejoined the insurgency and the whereabouts of the rest was unknown.
In another recent setback, a Kabul-government sponsored conference of Islamic scholars from
both countries that was intended to provide a religious imprimatur on peace talks had to be
cancelled. In a disagreement over whether Taliban representatives should attend the conference,
Pakistani religious leaders decided not to participate. In doing so they publically expressed that
their sympathies lay with the Taliban.
It has seemed evident that outside pressures, whether from Pakistan, neighboring countries or the
international community, have minimal effect on the Taliban leadership. For their views on
reaching a settlement to change, it will not come only from a consensus among the Talibans core
leadership. If there were any likelihood that this leadership could be enticed into meaningful
negotiations, it would have been in proposals contained in the High Peace Council plan that were
carried to Islamabad in December 2012 for Pakistans endorsement. The document seemed to
extend to the Taliban an opportunity to take effective control of Afghanistans south and east in
exchange for joining the countrys political process.


The appeal for Pakistan in the Roadmap to Peace in 2014 document would be in an outcome that
could provide it a sphere of influence and a buffer zone inside Afghanistan, should the country
fragment. It could be reasoned that a Taliban willingness to enter a peace agreement could
weaken the resolve of the Pakistani Taliban to continue their insurgency. The negotiation
process suggested in the peace plan would open a second negotiating track alongside any
bilateral talks between the U.S. and the Taliban. It would largely preclude the possibly of the
U.S. striking a deal that prioritized American interests. But Pakistan could be short sighted in
agreeing the plan. For were the Taliban to assume power in the Pashtun heartland, the border
with Afghanistan would effectively disappear and the foundations laid for a much-dreaded
Pashtunistan. So while Pakistan may work towards achieving a political settlement of the
Afghan conflict, it has to be careful about what it wishes for.
From all indications, the U.S. will continue to pursue a negotiations track as it accelerates its
drawdown of forces. With repeated Taliban rejections of American and others attempts to get
serious talks underway, it often appears as though the U.S. will not take no for an answer. The
prevailing view among many diplomats in the U.S. and several European countries is that there
is nothing lost in continuing to try, even if there is also appreciation that under the best of
circumstances, it is unlikely that an agreement can be reached before the end of 2014.
Historically, far less complicated conflicts have taken years of hard negotiations. While Western
capitals may view the continuing effort to bring the Taliban to the table as proof of their
resolution to seek a peaceful solution, the insurgent leadership would appear to interpret the
persistence of international actors and the Kabul government as a sign of their growing
Beyond 2014
Were a political settlement to be reached with the Taliban, it is difficult to know what it would
contain. Unlike so many other extended international conflicts, the end-game of the Afghan
conflict is not at all clear. Aside from stating that power would have to be shared in a
reconciliation accord and some of the Talibans Islamic demands accepted, there have been few
attempts to spell out what concessions are likely to be made by either side.
Getting the Talibans traditional ethnic adversaries to accept that it is safe to cohabit a political
system with the Taliban will not be easy. Although there is much wishful thinking in the
document, the proposed Road Map to Peace has come closer than any other attempt to indicate a
path towards a future coalition government. But while identifying the steps that could get
negotiations, it is short on the compromises around which to build a peace. Elements inside and
outside Pakistan can be counted on to raise issues, especially regarding protecting civil liberties.
It remains to be seen whether the U.S. and other donors, with the leverage provided by their
agreeing to bankroll security forces and the promise of continued economic and development


assistance, will be able to exert pressures.

In the event of no grand bargain with the Taliban, as seems probable, it is hard to predict whether
Afghanistan can stave off intensification of the conflict leading up to and after 2014.
Withstanding the insurgency probably hinges on the extent to which the transition leaves the
country with at least a minimally effective government and economy. Much will also be
determined by whether the major power-brokers within Afghan society and politics are able to
reach a consensus on accepting the outcome of what is bound to be a contentious 2014
presidential election. If a successor to Karzai is not seen as having a legitimate outcome, the
political system could collapse from within, paving the way for cascading military successes by
the Taliban.
A Civil War post-2014 would probably look a great deal different than the conflict of the mid and
late 1990s.
In place of a largely two-sided war that had pit the Taliban against a Northern Alliance of various
ethnic and personality-led factions under the titular command of Ahmed Shah Massoud, a future
civil conflict could be a far more chaotic Afghanistan with no clear battle lines.
In addition to fighting the Taliban, warlords might be fighting one another. It would thus be more
akin to the kind of fratricide that occurred among the Mujahideen in the early 1990s. One result
is virtually certain; Pakistan will have to cope with a major exodus of Afghan refugees.
With a Civil War, any residual force of U.S. and Western troops would be withdrawn and
economic assistance except perhaps for humanitarian aid could be expected to end.
The U.S. might not entirely disengage from the theater, given its concerns over international
terrorism and nuclear proliferation but it would inject its military power from off shore.
Afghanistans neighbors, however, reluctant they may be to drawn into a proxy war, would as in
the 1990s almost inevitably come to the assistance of client groups out of fear of being left at a
strategic disadvantage viz-a-viz their neighbors. In all probability, Afghanistan would be divided
up into spheres of Pakistani, Iranian and Russian influences.
A more optimistic post-2014 scenario for Afghanistan rests on the real progress that the country
has made since 2001. This is not the devastated political and economic landscape that the
Taliban overran in the mid-1990s. There are present throughout the country, a large body of
stakeholders who are prepared to resist a Taliban takeover.
Where little human capital existed two decades ago, there is a sizeable contingent of politically
engaged young middle class people who are determined not to relinquish the gains they have
made. If Afghans can manage to come through the transition by 2017, it may be possible to find
a political solution that includes Members of the Taliban.


An Afghanistan that is able to remain viable through this period may be able to convince the
Taliban and their supporters that the time is not on their side.


Is the fifth Afghan war coming to a closure ? Nearly 49 nations, including the 28-member NATO
Coalition, presently form part of the 150,000 foreign forces now deployed in Afghanistan.
Since 2006, there has been a rise in militancy of Taliban and allied elements in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama, in his speech to the West Point military cadets in December 2009
remarked that Western troops would start exiting from Afghanistan by July 2011.
The November 2010 Lisbon meeting set 2014 as the time limit for final withdrawal of USNATO troops although they could start moving out as early as July 2011 if conditions permit.
2014 was termed as an "aspirational dateline" and the drawing down of forces was "condition
based" and not "calendar driven" synchronizing with ISAF pullout.
On 15 December 20I0, on the occasion of the first review of US strategy for Afghanistan,
President Obama has reiterated the resolve to pull out the US troops by the said date. In fact, the
"conceptual withdrawal" was discussed for the last year or so finding another narrative to justify
disengagement over any best possible settlement under the circumstances.' However, the
dateline was qualified by conditions on the ground: strength of Afghan insurgency and nature of
future responsibilities to be taken up by Afghan Forces.
That conflicting messages continue to emanate about the withdrawal dates is perhaps due to
different audiences at home and abroad and to keep government options open. For example Vice
President, Joe Biden said that the end of December 2014 is a "drop dead date" while NATO
Secretary General cautioned that NATO troops will stay as long as necessary and "will not
transition if our partners are not ready.'?
The ambiguity in setting dates is partly due to division in the US policy circles (Pentagon and
Congress). Thus, it is widely debated if the 'surge' is going to be successful in 'degrading'
Taliban insurgency, whether Pakistan launches operations in North Western Waziristan and how
soon and effective the Afghan National Army (ANA) will be in assuming its post- withdrawal


There is a significant difference of opinion between the US military and political leaders about
ending the war. Within the intelligence agencies, there is pessimism and citing reasons such as
Karzai administration's corruption and reluctance by Pakistan to take stronger action against
militants in border areas." Likewise, the Congress is highly skeptical about current government
policies and wants extrication of US forces sooner than later.'
While the US military wants the fight to finish with clear victory, the political leaders are
desirous to bring forces back home due to an 'unending war' and avoid any Vietnam-like
On giving specific dates, there are differing views. According to the detractors, it should not
have been announced insofar as it emboldens Taliban forces by betraying the impression that
Americans are leaving, "the end is near" and Taliban victory over US defeat is certain.
Moreover, it undermines US credibility as a remaining superpower for its allies and friends, the
fecklessness of NATO as a military alliance and sends a message of supporting the Taliban
elements which it once so despised and wanted to eliminate. Also, it creates difficulties for the
military commanders and sends signals to regional neighbours that the US is soon 'quitting' the
region. No wonder military commanders like former Lt. Gen McChryrstal objected and thought
it as an unwise policy where military decisions were subordinated to political expediencies.
The supporters take a positive view saying the deadlines tend to focus efforts and speed up the
process of assuming responsibilities by Afghanistan and Pakistan; to help promote
reconciliation amongst varying groups who may delink the Taliban from Al-Qaeda; disassociate
mid-level commanders from top Taliban ideologues and start negotiations to share power.
In all insurgencies, local support, time factor, terrain and sanctuaries normally favour the
insurgents. As a common Taliban saying goes, the Western forces may have the watch but they
have the time on their side. It is a fact that Afghan insurgency is more intransigent and deep
rooted than, say, Iraq. In case of Iraq, the Sunni population opposing the allied forces comprised
one-fifth of population while four-fifth of the majority was of Sunni and Kurd elementsgenerally supportive to US forces. In case of Afghanistan, the Pushtuns comprise nearly 43 per
cent of the population and were the ruling elite for centuries. Besides, Iraq has a centralized
government and is bolstered by nearly US $ 60 billion annual revenues from oil. Afghanistan,
on the other hand, is impoverished and relies for war effort on drugs trade and strong tribal
traditions. Its rugged, unguarded and meandering border of 2500 km with Pakistan worked
against Soviet forces and contributed to their defeat, besides the role of the Mujahedeen and
external support."
Yet some kind of major withdrawal of US-NATO forces has to come about one day as it cannot
remain an 'infinite war'. The weariness in the public,' heavy economic costs and problems facing
Western coalition and, over and above, the Afghan war exceeding 10 years (more than Vietnam),
turning it into a 'no-win' situation-the compulsions are adding up to wind up the war effort
without losing face. In terms of cost, the US is spending annually US $ 70 billion on
Afghanistan. US and ISAF casualties have risen to 2,229 since 200 l- over half since January
2009. Nearly 600 have died in 2010 alone as compared to 630 in January 2009.8 The attacks on
coalition forces have risen by 50 per cent and although the Taliban have not been able to capture
any major city, their influence has spread to 33 out of 34 provinces, especially in nine south and


south-eastern provinces."

Here it is in order to examine what the American surge strategy aims to achieve. It is
withdrawal without conceding military defeat. Based on rather successful results achieved in
Iraq, General Petreus thinks that the same methodology could be applied in the Afghan
situation to 'disrupt, dismantle and defeat' Taliban forces, delink them from A l-Qaeda, create
internal dissensions and woo the middle level leadership to facilitate negotiations, to keep the
European allies in tow and demonstrate US will and commitment to its allies and friends in the
Ironically, 'surge' and 'exit' are contradictory policies. However, this strategy has been applied
with some modicum of success in Iraq in weakening the insurgent forces before starting
negotiations. A prime driver in setting the drawdown dates was President Obama's bid to win
presidential election in November 2012. After all, Obama's major election campaign focused on
peace and disengagement from costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, it satisfied Republican
and Democrats groups in the US. It kept the option open that if things do not go as planned these
reinforcements could even stay longer after the 2014 cutoff date. In addition, it puts pressure on
Afghans and Pakistani governments to exert more effort in weakening Taliban. For Pakistan, the
demand is to launch military operations in North Waziristan against Taliban if withdrawal is to
commence by July 2011. For this the US has granted Pakistan an aid package of US $ 4.2
Views of the Pentagon and State Department may differ, but it now seems that the Obama
Administration is seriously thinking of negotiating with Taliban forces as the war is getting
open ended and unwinnable. It desires Taliban to disassociate from Al-Qaeda which is seen as
global threat and perhaps to share power in any future political dispensation.In this regard, it
hopes that Pakistan may help create some divisions amongst moderate and hardliners with
which to negotiate.
Significant US presence might continue as the US has made a major investment in the region;
in the Lisbon conference, it declared that there is not going to be any letup in its commitment
to Afghanistan. Also it did not ask any of regional countries for help giving the impression that
NATO's occupation of Afghanistan under different guise or address may seem endless. I I
The Taliban have set the following major demands:


US military withdrawal,
release of captured and detailed Taliban prisoners, "
removal of Taliban as terrorist entity through the UNSC resolution,
ending sanctions,
amending the Constitution,
direct negotiations with the US,
major share in future Afghan Government and
start of negotiations in some neutral countries like Japan, Turkey or Gulf.

Withdrawal of US troops, on the other hand, is contingent on factors such as:

disengagement from Al-Qaeda,

protection of human rights and women in Afghanistans Constitution and
a coalition government comprising all ethnic groups.

The US thinks that there is a tight relationship with Al-Qaeda and this linkage should be broken
by Pakistan either by carrying out a military action or through veiled threats.
Ultimately, the US may strike a strong bargain with making Constitutional amendments by
synchronizing troops withdrawal with ceasefire, albeit power sharing questions might pose
some difficulties. 12
On its part, the Karzai Government seems to be convinced that US cannot win in Afghanistan.
The sentiments against presence of foreign forces and the urge for peace is especially strong in
south and south-eastern Afghanistan which has been worst hit by violence. That is why he is
favouring dialogue with Afghan Taliban. But his conditions for peace hinge upon:

laying down arms by Taliban,

a ceasefire (but not surrender),
protection of Afghan Constitution,
de- linking from Al-Qaeda and
his immunity after the new government comes into power.

It is thought that 2014 was suggested by Karzai and he would. like US presence to stay longer to
protect his government notwithstanding demands for exit for public consumption. That is why
he is relying on Pakistan for a dialogue with Afghan Taliban so that a suitable power-sharing
arrangement can be worked out in such a manner that the democratic structure of Afghanistan is
Pakistan's interest lies in:


having a stable western and south-western border adjoining Afghanistan,

a peaceful Afghanistan in essence,

ending of US forays in the border regions and

phased withdrawal of US troops,

prevention of undue Indian interference in that country especially to Baloch insurgents.

It also wants the gains of the post 9-11 to be retained and some semblance of troops to remain
there. Its support for Haqqani Group and Hizb-e-Islamic and other like-minded groups is based
on the premise that once Taliban get power in their region and foreign forces leave, they will
tend to become more responsible and amenable.
Pakistan is of the view that Taliban resistance is nationalistic while that of Al-Qaeda is
transnational and that in order to survive, they will have to depend upon outside world
community for assistance.
The replication of the earlier Taliban rule is unlikely as new generation of leadership and
experience and the exhaustion level reached has demonstrated.
An opposing view, however, postulates strongly that these Taliban groups are unreliable and they
would revert to their radical ideology and will not forsake their linkages with Al-Qaeda, It is also
added that even if it breaks with AI-Qaeda, many splinter local groups are springing up with AlQaeda's support in border region and interior of Pakistan.
All countries would like some presence of the US, though a phased withdrawal is preferred.
None of them want a resurgent Taliban in control (Russia, China and CARs in particular would
not like Taliban to control power elite in government).
While Pakistan would like a component of Taliban sharing power in.a representative
government, India will not be too happy and neither would Iran with total Taliban control. India
would also safeguard its investments in the region and earlier connections with the Afghan
state. Ultimately, it is the prerogative of the Afghan nation to choose its friends and have
balanced relations with all.
Pakistan's concept of 'strategic depth' is also misnomer as it should aim at having a stable,
peaceful Afghanistan which is not overtly hostile to Pakistan.
What are the ultimate post-exit scenarios in Afghanistan, if and when the NATO-ISAF
withdrawal takes place after 2014 as "drop dead date." As always, these range from the alarmist
to optimistic to realistic.
Scenario 1: Total Withdrawal (Alarmist)
Should the US beat a hasty withdrawal, the implications for the country and region could be


dire. A major Civil War with foreign intervention could ensue, re-enacting the scene of 198994. All the gains of NATO-US, if any, will be lost. Moreover, the US global image will
plummet further as a capricious and unreliable partner. This might further embolden Taliban
groups who shall try to reclaim total power and rule Afghanistan.
The capacity building and training of Afghan National Army (ANA) has to proceed fast from its
present level of 171,000 men and police to 134,000.14 The more ambitious US goals for the
police and army are to cumulatively grow from 260,000 to 306,000 by October 2010 and to
nearly 350,000 by 2013.15 Yet they are likely to be poorly trained and there are shortages of
adequate trainers. Besides, the desertion rate of troops is nearly 40 per cent. Drawn largely from
anti-Taliban elements, i.e. Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities, they make the nearly 43 per
cent Pushtuns more insecure.
There is also possibility that FATA, Haqqani Group JuD, LeT will join Jihad (religious war) to
assist the Taliban. This will bolster the TIP to strive for gaining power in Pakistan too and lead to
renewed militancy and a further inflow of refugees. Already two million are staying back in
Pakistan and are still hesitant to go to their country. This scenario is also in the interest of
regional powers. Likewise radical Islamists in China, Pakistan, Russia, Central Asia and
elsewhere will get emboldened and terrorism might get a second life. This is the most dismal
and disappointing scenario for the region and the world at large. Additionally, foreign
intervention may start supporting different groups. The new found resources of gold and copper
in Afghanistan could fuel resource wars as in parts of Africa and Asia. 16 At the same time,
under the US security cover. Hamid Karzai could also find some political immunity if he stays in
power or even otherwise.
Scenario 2: Partial US-NATO Withdrawal
This is a more realistic possibility/scenario. It postulates that there is not going to be a total,
precipitous withdrawal by US and ISAF and that US token troops will man bases, with some
troops and trainers stationed in Afghanistan. The number may be around 50, 000 or so with
1000 trainers to stay beyond 2015."17
Pullout strategy of NATO forces has to be gradual along with strengthening of Afghan forces;
out of 34 Afghanistan provinces (300 districts) where violence is concentrated in 9 of the
southern and eastern provinces two third could be handed over without serious risk. The least
troubled area are in west Herat where drawdown may start in another six months.
Likewise, the second largest contingent of British troops (some 9,500) plan to be out of
Afghanistan by 2015.
In fact, Sir David Richards, British C-in-C remarked that they are "planning for a 30-40 year
scenario"!" or even "stay as long as it takes."?" These forces could start declining by late 201l/
early 2012 in .certain areas and then reduced to 20,000-30,000 stationed as part of an agreement
on Status of Forces." It is believed by some Afghan security analysts that at the very least five
major bases will be maintained by the US after the withdrawal." A large embassy in Kabul is
being built by "the largest construction engineering group" of Kansas, US with a contract of US


$ 511 million." According to the US ambassador, it is "already the largest... in the world" with
"more than 1, I 00 brave and dedicated civilians ... from 16 agencies and working next to their
military counterparts in 30 provinces;' and yet it seems it is still not big enough." This is in
addition to expansion of consular facilities planned in Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. These are
considered necessary to secure the gains and in view of the past experience of hasty, ill-planned
withdrawal of Soviet troops in February 1989. This led to a debilitating Afghan civil war, the
consequent rise of Taliban from 1994-2001 and then its ouster through US intervention in 2001.
Moreover, stationing of US troops makes sense as it would like to protect its geopolitical
interests in the region: Central Asia, China, borderlands of Pakistan and Iran to the west.
Under this scenario, the winning of hearts and minds strategies will continue through economic
development and assistance programs. Also, the aim is to gain time to build ANF and police to
the level that they could ensure internal stability and deal with terrorism. As of today,
unfortunately no Afghan single unit is trained enough to fight independently against militancy
and violence.
Scenario 3: Representative/Pluralistic Afghanistan
In the words of an analyst, the future outlook in Afghanistan is going to be in between a
"Central Asian Valhalla'?' or Somalia." In fact, a decentralized democracy could be relatively
positive and likely scenario. It presupposes that after 20 years of US occupation and thirty years
of debilitating Civil War, the Afghan society would settle down to some reconciliatory mode
and share power with other ethnic groups. Quetta Shura, Haqqani Group and Hezb-e-Islami
shall be brought into the negotiation process with Karzai Government. However there are
apprehensions that Karzai Government being weak, corrupt and affected by drug trade would
not be able to handle the crises.
Nevertheless, looking at Afghan history it seems that this is achievable and possible. For
instance, from the Afghan War II (1880) to Daud Coup (1973) Afghans went through a
relatively stable and peaceful period of nation-building. The central government gave relative
autonomy to local groups for peace and order; but whenever forceful change was brought about
from top through Amanullah (1929) and Soviet-backed government (pre-1979) the peripheral
areas revolted against the central authority. Likewise, the Soviet invasion broke down the
authority and led to the end of Pushtun control. Under this foreign policy while the economic
and other vital functions would remain with Kabul, the local autonomy would be concentrated
in the hands of different ethnic leaders with preference for self-government. This meshes with
experiences in post-conflict states in Ethiopia and Somalia.
Taliban resistance to democracy, defiance of central authority, role of power brokers and
corrupt warlords with vested elements are some of the major challenges that deserve attention.
Decentralization also has some benefits, in which smaller projects that can conveniently
involve local population in administrative affairs, the weakening of Taliban and other groups
and demonstrating the transparency in local leadership can best be considered. Mixed
sovereignty could give the provinces more powers in matters of elections and governance, and
of course allow moderate level of corruption. Foreign policy will be the domain of centre, but


inter-provincial commerce and mining rights could be devolved to the provinces without
crossing some red lines, including disallowing the posting of terrorists in their territories, no
infringement on water and mineral rights of others, any large scale pilferage of narcotics,
exploitation of state resources, etc.
There are some disadvantages in this scenario. It may be considered a retreat from nine years
experiment with the rule of law, re-emergence of certain warlords, human rights and women
rights violation, costly conflict and the occasional use of force by the central government, need
for continued US engagement and aid flows. Nigeria with weak centre and strong region of
Biafra can be the best example in this regard in terms of fragmentation of a state for many
This also opens possibilities for Pakistan to play a vital role in 'future dispensation by bringing
in Afghan Taliban who are considered as 'moderate' or 'good' Taliban. Pakistan's position has
always been that with Afghanistan having 43 per cent Pushtun population in nearly 9 provinces
along the 1500 miles border being Pushtun-dominated areas forming the largest ethnic majority,
no government can be stable without their involvement. They comprise a major province of
Khyber Puktunwa in Pakistan and have been part of the ruling Afghan elite. Also, there is the
hope that if and when they get their rightful shares to govern their areas, they might get
appeased and be less aggressive. That is the reason why Pakistan has been promoting the
Afghan Taliban thinking that it will have to live with them as an immediate neighbour.
This point of view is now being realized by Karzai Government and lately by the Obama
administration. However, there is also a counter view that these Taliban forces may get more
power hungry and try to topple the Northern Alliance once they come into power. This will, of
course, have to be preconditioned before the foreign forces withdraw.
Pakistan would like to guard its interest as its threat perceptions focus on India and it considers
any rise of Indian influence in Afghanistan as more alarming. The above scenario guards the
interest of all who would like to see a stable Afghanistan in the years to come, with an emphasis
on democracy and development.
Will Pakistan support them again and get the ire of the world? Pakistan also feels that because of
sizable Pushtun population, they cannot be excluded from power. Their struggle is against
occupation and war of resistance than AI-Qaeda which has worldwide aims. If the Taliban
disconnect and limit their designs to Afghanistan than the US too may be amenable.
Some opine that the differences between 'good' and 'bad' Taliban are fallacious and say that
these very Taliban could be unpredictable and might eventually train their guns on Pakistan once
they come to power. There are many gaps in communication regarding their ideas of
development and use of power. They might get busy in internal consolidation and thus choose to
look inward; Pakistani Taliban will also be weakened to a great extent in the process. This is a
kind of ideal scenario.
Any place for Taliban will have to be negotiated on the grounds of delinking from Al-Qaeda,
respect for Constitution - albeit with some amendments - protection of human and women rights


and a non-aggressive policy with a promise of economic assistance. The facilitation of foreign
aid in special areas focused for development and the reconstruction zones can be started by
bringing veterans into service and through other means." Pakistan would ideally wish this
arrangement to materialize. Perhaps TAPI and regional cooperation with CARs are best
scenarios. Pakistan would like US presence as a stabilizing factor as it thinks Americans are
easier to deal with than Karzai Government. Their presence is needed, on one hand, to keep India
and Russia out of the loop, and on the other hand, to keep Iran quiescent."
Scenario 4: Fragmentation along Ethnic Lines
This is an unacceptable model for regional and other states. Whether troops withdraw or not,
some think that Balkanization of Afghanistan could take place under various ethnic/political
groupings like what had happened in Yugoslavia: Northern Alliance in northern and western
Afghanistan and Pushtun-dominated Taliban forces in south and southeast.
This is a scenario which could entail bloodshed and again unleash refugees into neighbouring
countries where these ethnic communities are living together. This will be a possibility in case
of a failure of the state which will then have far reaching implications on the region, especially
on Pakistan. Free operation of Taliban in south and eastern Afghanistan, like Iraqi Kurds, or
PKK guerrillas will certainly lead to battles among the security forces. Atomized Civil War
condition in present day Somalia and pre-Taliban period with increasing lawlessness provided
an opening for Al-Shahab and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups to set up their bases.
Some contend that a control could result, if not separate, states with loose arrangement of
ethnic groups, After all, they contend, Afghanistan under monarchy lived under warlords in
relative harmony with the state playing a minimal role. The interest in stable, unified
Afghanistan remains paramount for the entire region, but some observers think that unless
regional and ethnic groups are decentralized, this will not work."
But Balkanization with separate states could set a dangerous precedent for other ethnic
communities in Afghanistan's neighbourhood. The scenario assumes that in case of fragmented
states, the Taliban would be content and preoccupied with their power centre and not expand to
areas beyond like their rule (1994-2001); secondly, Al-Qaeda will not be allowed to return to
Afghanistan as Taliban have suffered due to Soviet, US military interventions; thirdly,
dependent upon international aid, they will mellow down and interact with international
community and fourthly, with Al-Qaeda more of a liability, Taliban would ask them to leave
with the latter moving out to regions outside Afghanistan such as Pakistan's tribal regions,
Yemen, Somali or some other areas."
Scenario 5: Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan
In an unlikely scenario, total Taliban-controlled Afghanistan will suit neither the interest of any
major power nor Afghanistan's neighbours and will strongly be resisted by all Afghan
communities, non-Afghan ethnic groups and regional countries, including the left behind USNATO military forces. Should this scenario prevail, Pakistan would again be the worst victim.


Many believe that 'good' and 'bad' Taliban are misnomers: once in power they might join hands
with TIP due to ideological affinity. Moreover, the Pakistan Taliban will stand strengthened and
vindicated to set up a future Islamic caliphate. The country will be inundated with refugees,
illegal drugs and weapons and the ideological ambitions of TE will be whetted in supporting
radical Islamist movements in neighbouring Muslim communities in Central Asia, China and
Unofficially, some doubt the notion that they will be helpful to Pakistan as "strategic assets." It
is not true as the TIP refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to Pakistan despite Pakistan's many
requests. They may not totally delink themselves from AI-Qaeda too. Already the Mujahedeen
war and Taliban regime have created problems of refugees, violence, cross border traffic and
drug trade in Pakistan. Therefore, some writers warn that in order to abort Indian influence in
Afghanistan, Pakistan must not support its 'good Taliban' as they have no respect of
international borders, norms and conventions and will strongly infiltrate Pakistani society by
supporting certain jihadi groups."
Scenario 6: Continued Occupation of US-ISAF
The following is a very unlikely scenario but is based on the premise that war is like an
'addiction' and that NATO wants to self-arrogate a permanent role. The Afghan military
engagement is the first of its nature out of Europe. The military-industrial complex is raking
huge profits and unless mass demonstrations in US and Europe force their governments, their
troops cannot come back. Moreover, the possibilities of exploitation of minerals and rush for
profits will give impetus to the "New Great Game." However, this scenario has few takers in
view of the problems faced by US-NATO forces, mounting casualties and the rising costs of
occupation. As the overall advantage of a quick eventual pullout overweigh against any
continued retention of occupation the latter may not be a likely outcome.
Scenario 7: Centralized Dictatorship
An unlikely scenario is for a centralized dictatorship through the rise of a military dictator to
rule Afghanistan where power is dispersed in ethnic, military and economic centres. In this
case, Afghanistan could descend into Civil War and destabilize the region. A coup or military
grab may be militarily possible but is not likely to yield any modicum of stability for the Afghan
state in the long-run.
Scenario 8: Punitive Strikes against Pakistan leading to prolonged stay in Afghanistan
Another dire scenario postulates that in the strategic review it was hinted that Pakistan rather
than Afghanistan continues to be the source of problem because of sanctuaries on its territory.
Hence, it is thought that as security situation keeps on deteriorating for the foreign forces, the
scapegoat will be Pakistan with US-NATO forces expanding their operations into tribal regions
and beyond into Pakistan territory. Already, CIA-directed Predator and Reaper drone attack
activities, as of 17 December 2010, have grown to nearly 113 strikes which are more than
double the number in 2009 and more than total raids conducted in the previous six years." These
are backed by a clandestine CIA-run paramilitary force of 3,000 Afghans carrying out sensitive


cross-military operations in Pakistan." This could rake up latent tensions and lead to possible
clashes between Pakistan and US forces. The withdrawal plan may get stymied and Allied
forces could extend their stay in Afghanistan for many years beyond 2014. Some analysts think
that Pakistan's nuclear weapons, its. 'dual policies' and US sheer frustration to control Afghan
insurgency may force them to launch punitive operations in 'hot pursuit' of militants with
attendant internal destabilization for Pakistan.
That the US and NATO forces will ultimately execute a drawdown is most likely beyond
question. However, the question is: when and how ? In other words, whether the time lines will
be adhered to or the stipulated deadlines lead to some overhaul in policy, another 'tweak', or a
piecemeal approach."
In the ultimate analysis, much will depend upon the results achieved by the US forces' 'surge,'
training and preparedness acquired by the Afghan army; police and civil administration, and
existing military conditions on ground. Most probably, the US forces are likely to stay in
Afghanistan like Iraq (30,000-50,000). As. they have made major investments in men and
material, continued military and economic presence will continue for geopolitical reasons in
the form of troops, trainers, advisers, security companies and investment companies.
Meanwhile, talks are on to arrive at some 'compromise formula' at a neutral place which could
act as face saving for Taliban and US-NATO forces. All parties agree that Pakistan has a major
role to play in the region besides other regional powers and the US. This is amply visible in
President Obama's review strategy of 15 December 2010.
Afghanistan has suffered two major interventions by superpowers for about ten years each and
has been in turmoil for the last three decades. The Soviets exited after suffering human and
material cost while the US may follow suit. In the case of Soviet Union, there was the proximity
factor and heavy armor, air force was employed to fight against the then Mujahedeen. The US
is also inducting some tanks as part of the surge strategy. While the Soviets wanted to turn
Afghanistan into a socialist state, the US under the cover of the UN employed NATO forces to
root out transnational actor Al-Qaeda which was considered responsible for 9111 attacks on the
US mainland. The erstwhile Soviet Union followed a solo exercise whereas in the latter it is
supported by 27 NATO allies and other 10 non-NATO nations. The death count in case of
NATO forces is much less than that of nearly one million sustained by the Afghans with 10,000
Soviet civilians and combatants."
Both ultimately failed to secure the long porous Afghan-Pak borders. The Soviets went on a
destructive spree and made little efforts at developmental work while the US-led coalition have
attempted some measures in education, reconstruction, administration, constitutional and other
reforms. Both invasions were deeply resented in the Muslim world. However, the US effort in
Afghan case became divided with the Iraq military invasion in 2003. The interventionist
powers realized their mistakes - the Soviets of remaking Afghan society in the socialist image
and the Americans of turning a traditional, tribal Islamic society into a Western democracy.
The early December 2010 Wikileaks have put pressure on Western governments. However, a


scenario of an early exit will be contingent on normal course of events for any untoward
incident such as Al-Qaeda inspired attack on Europe or the US, or an attack on Iran, could
complicate matters thus either derailing or delaying planned evacuation of foreign forces.
The post withdrawal Afghanistan may continue to simmer with ethnic violence for some time
but the intensity may subside. Estranged communities might take revenge and launch vendettas
not uncommon to Afghan tradition and history. If transition is not smooth, India- Pakistan and
Saudi-Iran rivalries could erupt with greater force.
Wars cannot go on indefinitely and have to end over time. The transition management after the
US-NATO troops' drawdown is therefore crucial." In this context, the US and Afghanistan's
regional neighbours bear heavy responsibility to put back the Afghan nation on its feet. After all,
it was the military interveners who were the creators of present woes of the benighted country.
Should this eventuate, post-NATO Afghanistan could turn out to be a win-win situation for all
and become a hub for regional co-operation. A Contact Group consisting of US, Russia, China,
along with regional nations, should strive to establish mechanisms for a neutral Afghan state
with possible peacekeeping forces from the Afghan non-neighbours but Islamic countries. These
could later facilitate US-NATO withdrawal and set the course for promoting a stable, peaceful
Notes and References
1. Anwar Iqbal, "US review terms Pakistan ties uneven. Al Qaeda 'diminished'. Gains against
Taliban reversible'. Obama repeats 'do more rnantra.:" Dawn, 17 December 2010, 1.
2. Andrew Small, "The Consequences of a Conceptual Withdrawal in Afghanistan,"
< .1518.70928.20 html>
3. Quoted in Malecha Lodhi, The News, 29 November 20 10, 7.
4. "US intelligence pessimistic about Afghan war success," Dawn. Dawn, Karachi [Islamabad
edition], 17 December 2010, 12.
5. "US intelligence pessimistic about Afghan war success," Dawn
6. Patrick Cockburn, "NATO and Afghan war," Daily Times, 21 November 2010, A8.
7. For example, an ABC News survey Obama strategy review posted 60 per cent against the
war-an increase of 7 per cent rise since July. Moreover 54 per cent against the war
and increase of 7 per cent rise since July. Moreover, 54 per cent suppo9rted
withdrawal by mid-Julyup by per cent. See "Support for war drops: survey" Dawn, 17
December 2010, 12.
8. See Iman Hasan, "Chaos in Washington, where we go from here," Special report from
Kabul, The News, 29 November 2010, 29; Sardar Ahmad, "Talks with Taliban key to
ending Afghan war," Dawn, 16 October 2010, 10.
- 9. Hasan, "Chaos in Washington, where we go from here."
10. See editorial, "The great exception, "Daily Times, 26 October 2010, A6.
11. See Ambassador (retd) Zafar Hilaly, "The Lisbon effect," Daily Times, 26 November 2010,
12. See A.G. Noorani, "Diplomacy and the Taliban," Dawn, 27 November 2010.
1:3. See CPP News, "Pakistan and the U.S. Exit from Afghanistan," 28 September 2010.



Patrick Cockburn, "NATO and Afghan war," Daily Times, 28 September 2010, A8.
< ... >
On this theme, see Sanaullah Baloch, "Exploitation of mineral wealth," Dawn, 25
November 2010, 3; also see Ikram Seghal, "21st century 'Great game' ," The News, 25 November
17. Cited in Seghal, "21st century 'Great game'."
18... See APP, "Withdrawal from Herat in July: Pullout from Kandahar, Helrnand, not before
2012: US," Dawn, 9 November 9 2010,10.
19. "Withdrawal from Herat in July."
20. "Withdrawal from Herat in July."
21. Michael O'Hanlon, "The Afghan debate," Dawn, 4 October 2010, 7. Also see "No need for
US troops after 2011, says Iraqi PM," Daily Times, 28 November 2010, A9.
22. "The Consequences of a Conceptual Withdrawal in Afghanistan."
23. See e.g., Tom Engelhardt, "Kabul gets its own stimulus package," Daily Times, 21
November 2010, A 8.
24. Likewise, the projected cost of embassies in Islamabad and Baghdad is $736 million and
$590 million respectively. The latter is so far the biggest US embassy in the world equaling
the area of Vatican City with 1000 "diplomatic" personnel. Engelhardt, "Kabul gets its own
stimulus package."
25. As cited in Stephen Biddle, Forini Christia, and J. Alexander, "Defining Success in
Afghanistan: What can the United Sates Accept?" Foreign Affairs (July-August 2010),p.1.
26. Posted by Ed Corcoran, "Afghanistan: No Exit," Sitrep, 26 October 2010,
27. Hilaly, "Power games in Afghanistan," Daily Times, 15 October 2010, A6.
28. Hilaly, "If this is our war," The News, 29 November 2010,p.6.
29. Mark. K. Katz, "Opponents of a USINATO withdrawal fear the return of Taliban ... a
common threat, "ISN Security Watch <
Watch Detaill Denial/?ing .. .''>
30. On this see Azizullah Khan, "From good to bad Taliban," Daily Times, 17 December 2010,
A 7.
31. This. is hinted in an editorial, "Strategy review," Dawn, 19 December 2010,7.
32. "Obama's other 'surge': US drone war in Pakistan," Daily Times, 25 December, 20I0, A2.
33. While the US terms it success insofar as it has killed 897 top Al-Qaeda/ Taliban leaders
Pakistanis say it has led to many unverified civilian casualties and consequently greater
resentment against USINATO forces. "Obama's other 'surge'."
34. "Obama's other 'surge'."
See Hanlon, "The Afghan Debate..".
36. On this see Air Commodore (Retd) Khalid Iqbal, Paper delivered at Afghan seminar
arranged by USIS and Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid i Azam
University, Islamabad September 2010.



The Obama Administration is entering the end-phase of its withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan
but the end to War on Terror inside Afghanistan is still not in sight. The on-going War on
Terror has led to the regionalization of Afghan conflict.
The planned US withdrawal of combat forces in 2014 has given further boost to the on-going
New Great Game in this region.
One of the primary affected parties in this Afghan quagmire is Pakistan, which has a major stake
in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. In the aftermath of 9/11 events and the rise of militancy
in South Asia, Pakistan has suffered a lot in terms of human and material losses.
Terrorism is not only a problem for the US and Afghanistan alone, it has engulfed the entire
region while Pakistan considers terrorism as its biggest problem in the contemporary regional
security environment.
The enunciation of United States AfPak and exit policies; safe heavens of terrorists in the tribal
areas of both Pakistan and Afghanistan; bad governance in Afghanistan and its impact on the
regionalization of Afghan conflict; drone attacks inside FATA; the blame game against Pakistani
security agencies; the Indian role inside Afghanistan; Pakistans bilateral and multilateral
relations with its neighbours on the issue of militancy and extremism; breach of Pakistans redlines by the US through Slala Check-post attack, the OBL operation and predominant AntiAmerican sentiments in Pakistan are some of the key thematic issues which are going to define
and describe diverse narratives on the post-withdrawal Afghanistan and its implications for
Therefore, this paper endeavours to analyse the post-withdrawal Afghanistan and its implications
for Pakistan based on some premises, different phases of Afghan crisis, and power/military
vacuum created by the US withdrawal.
It is imperative to understand that this paper analyses the post-withdrawal Afghanistan in the
context of following premises;
The US-NATO forces are not withdrawing but it is a transition. From the peak 130,000
forces that have been stationed in Afghanistan ever since the launch of War on Terror in
October 2001, talks are still going on the number of troops to be stationed in Afghanistan. The
issue could not be decided in the allied meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels in 2012.
The empirical evidence to support this premise is that the US and Afghanistan have worked out


10 year security agreement, the details of which are yet to be worked out, to station 10-20
thousand US troops in Afghanistan.1
The new Great Game has ensued in the region to contain the emerging China, resurgent
Russia, revolutionary Iran and controlling the economic heavens of the Central Asian Republics. 2
Afghanistan is the cardinal link in all these directions with Indian involvement having its own
regional ambitions.
This is not the first withdrawal in Afghanistan; the history is witness to two previous
withdrawals. The British withdrew in the 19th century after fighting two Afghan wars; the Soviets
withdrew in the 20th century after an unsuccessful defence of their Afghan ally; and the USNATO is withdrawing in the 21st century with no better results than the two previous
Therefore, as epitomised by a US academic, Seth G. Jones, 3the graveyard of Empires
Afghanistan has proved a difficult adventure for the super powers in the past and it would be no
better in the future either.
The last two withdrawals had far-reaching devastating effects on Pakistan. The Pakistani
decision-makers have committed mistakes, even blunders, and have learnt great lessons that
should be reflected in their present policy/approach towards Afghan peace and stability.
The Afghan Crises in Phases
The present Afghan crisis that started with the Soviet invasion in December 1979 has many
phases and each phase affected Pakistani security.
The 1st phase (1979-88) was the Soviet invasion and subsequent withdrawal and with that, the
global-US support also dwindled that created a serious power vacuum.
The 2nd phase (1988-1994) was when both sides withdrew, there was nobody to control and
govern Afghanistan. It was left to the mercy of warlords and the direction-less Jihadists who
were assembled from the world over. That led to the emergence of Taliban on the Afghan soil
and their rise to power, with the help and support of Saudi Arabia, the United States and
The 3rd phase (1996-2001) saw the rapid rise of Taliban and overrunning of 80 percent of
Afghanistan. Though their government brought the much needed peace and stability in the
country but their implementation of the extremist ideology raised alarm bells in the regional
security perceptions. This led to the creation of Northern Alliance, supported by all regional
states; Russia, China, India and Iran.
The 4th phase (2001-2014) was when the US began to destroy Taliban and Al-Qaeda, initiating a
global war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks. However, despite over one decade of

For details see Nazir Hussain and M. Najam-ud-Din Farani, The US Exit Strategy: Impact on War on Terror in
Afghanistan Regional Studies,, no.3, summer 2012.
See Richard Weitz, Averting New Great Game in Central Asia Washington Quarterly, vol.29, no.3, summer 2006.
Seth G. Jones, In The Graveyard of Empires: Americas War in Afghanistan, New York: W.W Norton, 2009.


occupation, the US-NATO-ISAF could not go beyond Kabul. Ultimately, the Taliban re-emerged
with forceful credentials to claim their stakes in Afghanistan. The US was compelled to start
negotiations with the Taliban through Doha Process.
The 5th phase (post-2014) is currently being planned out and would start with the draw-down of
US forces in Afghanistan.
Importantly, each phase of the Afghan crises had serious security implications for the region in
general and for Pakistan in particular. Its involvement in the Afghan crises by becoming the
frontline state against the Soviets drew their wrath and three million Afghan refugees created
severe socio-economic and politico-security issues.
The creation and support of Taliban backfired as all regional states became hostile to Pakistan.
Interestingly, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Taliban did not accept the Pakistani version of a
solution to the Afghan crisis and became hostile to Pakistan.
Later, Pakistans involvement in the US-led War on Terror resulted in the situation where
Pakistani forces battled against their own people in the FATA area. Subsequently, the emergence
of Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) brought the War on Terror at home. The US drone attacks,
the do more policy, the Slala Check-post attack and the OBL episode converted the past allies
into hostile partners.
In all these phases, especially in the 4 th phase, Pakistan suffered the most; over 60,000 civilian
casualties, sacrifices of over 6,000 security personnel and over $100 billion loss. 4 It is indeed a
very heavy cost for any nation to bear.
Post-withdrawal Power Vacuum
Whatever the level of US forces remaining in Afghanistan, it will indeed create a power vacuum
in the country. There will be very strong contenders of power having vital stakes in the future
of Afghanistan and the region at large; the internal groups and factions within Afghanistan, the
regional states such as Iran, Russia, China and even the Central Asian States, but more
importantly, for Pakistan is India.
Based on the available information and in the light of the 10-year security pact between the
United States and Afghanistan, an estimated 10-12 thousand US forces would remain stationed in
the country, subject to approval of the arrangement by Afghan Loya Jirga. Surprisingly, a force
with 130,000 troops could not control the country in over 10 years, how it is going to bring
normalcy in the country after it is reduced to 10 times. More worrying at this time for the USNATO is the troop withdrawal than the peace and stability of Afghanistan.5
On the other hand, a numerically strong force of 350,000 Afghan National Army (ANA), trained
and equipped by the US-NATO, still lacks credibility and fighting capability. Several reports in

NazirHussain and M. Najam-ud-Din Farani, The US Exit Strategy: Impact on War on Terror in Afghanistan
Regional Studies, vol. XXX, no.3, summer 2012.
Judy Dempsey, No Easy Exit for NATO in Afghanistan New York Times, December 10, 2012.


the foreign media cast heavy doubts on their effectiveness. Some even fear that they might desert
to the opposing side in the wake of table being turned on the ground.6
Moreover, despite the US-NATO forces, the Taliban have gained strength/power during the last
few years, and they have come back with strong stakes in the country. It is believed that they still
physically control half of Afghanistan, and in the wake of US-NATO withdrawal and questions
over the effectiveness of ANA, Taliban have strong case for filling the power vacuum in the
Especially, in the wake of political polarization due to the forthcoming presidential elections in
Afghanistan and a clear divide of nationalists (former Northern Alliance), Islamists (Gulbadeen
Faction, and the Traditionalists (Karazai Camp),7 the Taliban have a lot to gain. They will be
strong power to be reckoned with in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan, even if they are not in
power.8 Therefore, the United States, Afghans and regional states, especially Pakistan, have
started negotiating with the Taliban for the possible new politico-military dispensation in
Future Scenario and Option for Pakistan
In the light of weakening position of Afghan Government and the power vacuum created by the
departure of US-NATO forces, one country that is gaining strong grounds in Afghanistan is
India. It has initiated long-term socio-economic projects, established its diplomatic and cultural
presence in the bordering areas of Pakistan, fomenting anti-Pakistan sentiments, having strong
liaison with the former Northern Alliance and even tacit understanding with the Taliban, the
training of ANA, and a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, pose severe security
threats to Pakistan.9Moreover, the US-NATO withdrawal needs strong Pakistani support and
backing. However, the US unsuccessful solo flight to woo the Taliban through the Doha process
was seen as an attempt to bypass both Afghanistan and Pakistan that has backfired. The point is
that the peace negotiations with Taliban are carried out in Doha, Paris and Bonn, and now being
contemplated in Riyadh and Istanbul, but why not inside Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Previously, Pakistan had been relying on one faction of Afghan population but this time around,
very importantly, its diplomatic initiative has witnessed even-handed approach towards all the
Afghans. In her last visit to Afghanistan, the former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani
Khar, met with the Northern Alliance leader, Abdullah Abdullah to convey Pakistans desire for
an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace plan for the country. 10 Because, there is a growing
realization in Pakistan that their previous ally in Afghanistan, the Taliban, are no more loyal to

Elisabeth Bumiller, Pentagon says Afghan Forces Still Need Assistance New York Times, December 10, 2012, and
Judy Dempsey, Few Illusions as Afghan Exit Nears New York Times, March 4, 2013.
International Crisis Group Afghanistans Parties in Transition ICG Asia Briefing No. 141, June 26, 2013.
Kenneth Katzman, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security and U.S. Policy Congressional Research
Service, September 19, 2013.
AlyZaman, Indias Increased Involvement in Afghanistan and Central Asia: Implications for Pakistan IPRI
Journal, vol.III, no.2, summer 2003.
Abdullah, Khar confer on key Afghan issues Pajwok Afghan News, February 2, 2012.


Pakistan and hence, not reliable to take care of post-withdrawal Pakistani national security
Therefore, based on the previous experiences, the prevailing ground realities and the interests
and involvement of regional states, Pakistan maintains an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned
solution to the Afghanistan crisis. As peace and stability of Afghanistan is closely tied to the
peace and stability in Pakistan, therefore, Pakistan is the principal affected party in the postwithdrawal Afghanistan.
It is said that in the inter-state relations, neighbours cannot be changed but their relations could
Pakistan and Afghanistan are tied by history, culture, religion and geography; their peace,
progress and prosperity is mutually inter-twined together and their future too is destined together.
Both must, therefore, forget past follies, learn from the past mistakes and respect each others
sovereignty and national interests.
Pakistan cannot impose any solution on Afghanistan to suit its own national interest and cannot
dictate Afghanistan how to conduct its relations with India; on the same account Afghanistan
cannot do the same. Both must avoid letting their territories used against each other.
Importantly, Taliban are a reality and have strong stakes in the future dispensation of their
country and Pakistan has learnt that the Afghans and the Taliban are now master of their own
destinies and thats why has adopted a pragmatic approach of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned
solution of the Afghan imbrioglo.
Afghan Crisis has now become a regional and international issue and requires a regional and
international approach for its solution. Pakistan has shun its preferences in Afghanistan and is,
rather, honestly and vigoursly following an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solution, fully backed
and supported by the Government of Pakistan. That would, inevitably bring peace and stability in
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region at large.




We talk about Afghanistan, its extremely important to understand:

No. One , what is the nature and character of the state, what does
Afghanistan means in terms of international security and most importantly,
how does the state is going to exist outside international and regional
No. Two, what are the dynamics of the situation on ground at this very
moment and what are the possible trends which will govern Afghanistan in
post- 2014 era.

To begin with Question No. One, the first and foremost question is What are the
prospects for transition and the most important question is what would be the
successful strategy that will leave Afghanistan peaceful and the whole region in
peaceful situation and most important that will allow the regional and international
leftists that success has been achieved. So the notion of victory and success is
extremely important as it will determine the outcome of transition process.
The second question is how the countries look like once the transition is complete.
I will run through the slides, how this is going to affect here in Pakistan that will
lead us to various conclusions about what will be the effect of the evolving
situation on Pakistan in future.
The greatest risk which many analysts have argued is an unwanted conflictescalation that means threat of terrorism which will continue. There would be
various networks who would be operating across and would be coming up with
highly sophisticated attacks with time. If security would remain the prime driver
and violence would remain the key, which is going to be the reality of Afghanistan
in post-2014 era.
The second probability is that Afghanistan plunges into Civil War.
Another assumption is that we have to move away from Afghan state character
and that state character is tribal, its means the tribal area where Pashtuns are in
dominance and will remain in power. One will not see that the Northern Alliance
will dominate Pashtun majority area, neither you will witness a situation where
Pashtun are dominating even where Northern Alliance or any ethnic minority
available, who will be the minority in those areas will represent the majority in


those areas. We saw this in 10-year decade, following the fall of former Soviet
Union where Afghanistan was engulfed into Civil War, nonetheless of ground
situation despite the regional involvement and proxy war, neither side is able to
change the situation, for that matter Pashtuns who had all control over Afghanistan
or for that matter, Northern Alliance who had control over Afghanistan viz-a-viz
southern lands.
Perhaps, we are going to see the same situation where power area will be
consolidated according to the ethnicity and also on the basis of state building areas
that would be available for the people living over there.
Then the 3rd assumption, imminent in the international academic discourse is that
external actors can deepen the conflict. Let us not forget while external actors can
move the conflict from one direction to another, nonetheless the dynamics of
Afghan conflict will remain internal. Supporting the Afghan state authority will
remain indispensible and the focus on stabilising efforts. Here comes the
understanding what do we understand by stable Afghan authority. What would it
constitute, would it be a centralized authority or de-centralized power structure
which will ensure that governance and state-building will pass through the
transition process. Then the question is how international community could best
support the political aspirations of Afghan people. Will there be fair elections or
Jirga system or any other alternative process through which power-sharing
arrangement would be brought about. This is the major focus which we see
between varying parties: Taliban or Talibans representative forces, United State
and Pakistan which is playing the role of facilitator at this point of time. How to
improve the support for legitimate Afghan Government, sustainable institutions,
sustainable and transparent political parties, transparency, accountability, civil
society and media is a big question mark on this account. And what could be done
to implement the institutional reforms, electoral process, linking central and local
government actors if you have to go ahead with it.



This paper is based on premises of fault lines in certain assumptions over much hyped issue of
Afghanistan peace. I would focus on fault lines in assumptions relating to reconciliation with

Afghan security structures,

Ethnic divide,
Political system,
International role

Before we look at the future in the context of Afghan peace, we better look back into past.
Afghanistan emerged as a loose Confederation of Pushtun tribes under Ahmad Shah Abdali in
1747 and its identity became synonymous with Pushtun nationalism. Despite the presence of
other ethnic groups, the country was unfortunately run by and for the Pashtuns through most of
its troubled history. The ethnic minorities notably the Tajiks, Uzbeks Turkmen and Hazaras have,
with considerable justification, been described as the victims of internal colonization. This
needs to be revisited in order to understand the formidable obstacles that impede the
establishment of sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The Tajiks lost their state with the fall of the Samanids but continued to fight stubbornly to
preserve their independence. It was only in the first half of the nineteenth century that the
Pushtun feudal lords defeated the Tajiks.
The establishment of the Pushtun authority in the Tajik areas was accompanied by the snatching
of land from the local aristocracy, the forcible seizure of small holdings from the peasantry and
the transfer of land among the Pushtun migrants who formed military colonies in these areas.
The indigenous population was strangulated economically through imposition of exorbitant taxes
from which the Pushtuns were exempted.
The process was repeated with the Uzbeks and the Turkmen but it was the Hazaras who suffered
most because as Shiias, they were detested by all Afghan groups.
Against this backdrop, it is important that the current transition process should not ignore
Afghanistans demographic realities and is not weighted in favour or against any particular
ethnic group.
Durable peace in Afghanistan will come only through reconciliation between Afghan factions,
with no selectivity or exclusivity. But the billion dollar question is: would it be possible?


Afghanistans large ethnic minorities already enjoy de facto autonomy which they secured after
the Northern Alliance played a central role in the USled ouster of the Pashtun Afghan Taliban
from power in late 2001. Having enjoyed autonomy for years now, the minorities will resist with
all their might from coming under the sway of the ethnic Pashtuns again who ruled the country
for long.
For their part, the Pushtuns, despite their tribal divisions, will not rest content with being in
charge of just a rump Afghan made up of the eastern and southeastern provinces. Given the large
Pushtun population resident across the British-drawn Durand Line that separates Afghanistan
from Pakistan, they are likely, sooner or later, to revive their long-dormant campaign for a
Greater Pashtunistan a development that could affect the territorial integrity of Pakistan. The
ethnic minorities account for more than half of Afghanistan both in land area and population
size. Any wave of Pashtun nationalism or Talibanisation even in moderate form would provoke
non-Pashtuns to rise in revolt with danger of split.
The American effort for an honorable exit by cutting a deal with Pakistan-backed Afghan
Taliban, paradoxically, is deepening Afghanistans ethnic fissures and increasing the partitioning
risk. With President Barack Obama, choosing his second-term security team and his 2014
deadline to end all combat operations approaching, the U.S offer to strike a deal with the Taliban
is quite meaningful.
This effort, being pursued in coordination with Afghan President Hamid Karzai amid an ongoing
gradual withdrawal of U.S and NATO troops, is stirring deep unease among the Afghan
minorities. The Talibans rule, for example, was marked by several large-scale massacres of
Hazara civilians. The rupturing of Karzais political alliance with ethnic-minority leaders has
also aided ethnic polarization. Some non-Pashtun power brokers remain with Karzai, but most
others now lead the opposition National Front.
The nature of the current dialogue makes it clear that the Americans want Talibans cooperation
for peaceful exit. The US-Taliban dialogue process does not take other stake-holders on board.
There is likelihood that the Americans might connive over Talibans bid for power after USNATO exit. There is no indication that Taliban are ready to share power with non-Pashtun ethnic
population on equitable basis. A call for inclusive dialogue with Taliban seems to be a wishful
thinking if not a day dream.
The minority communities are unlikely to accept any power-sharing arrangement that includes
the Taliban. In fact, they suspect Karzais intention to restore Pashtun dominance across


The minorities misgivings have been strengthened by the Peace Process Road Map to 2015 put
forward recently by the Karzai-constituted Afghan High Peace Council, empowered to negotiate
with the Taliban.
The document sketches several striking concessions to the Taliban and to Islamabad, ranging
from the Talibans recognition as a political party and to a role for Pakistan in Afghanistans
affairs. The road map dangles the carrot of Cabinet posts and provincial governorships to
prominent Taliban figures.
The ethnic tensions and recriminations, which threaten to undermine cohesion in the fledgling,
multi-ethnic Afghan Army is breaking along the same lines as was the case when the Soviet
forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, an exit that led to Civil War and Talibans
subsequent capture of Kabul. This time the minority communities are better armed and prepared
to defend their interests after the US-NATO exit.
In seeking to co-opt the Taliban, the U.S., besides bestowing legitimacy on the Taliban, risks
unwittingly reigniting Afghanistans ethnic strife.
A new Civil War, however, is likely to tear Afghanistan apart. This raises a fundamental
question: Is the territorial unity of Afghanistan essential for regional or international security ?
In other words, should the policies of outside powers seek to keep Afghanistan united even
though the sanctity of existing borders has become a powerful norm in world politics.
Another factor in Afghan peace is FATA in Pakistan. FATA not only poses security problem for
Pakistan but also for Afghanistan. At the same time, FATA does not figure in any scheme of
dialogue for peace in Afghanistan but it will remain a dominant factor in the post-exit era of
Afghanistan. FATA is the most impoverished region of Pakistan where majority of the population
lives in rural areas. According to a WHO report of 2001, nearly 50 percent of the tribesmen are
living in abject poverty while 75 percent have no access to clean drinking water. A poor and
deprived FATA will remain nursery for militants and they would not remain confined to Pakistan.
Peace and security in Pakistan and Afghanistan are linked closely. There is also need to address
the Kashmir issue which is one of the main causes of extremism in Pakistan.
The problem of peace in Afghanistan needs to be resolved in the framework of SAARC regional
peace. After all Afghanistan has become part of SAARC region.
Pakistan helped the Afghan Taliban in the early 1990s in the hope that it would curb Pushtun
nationalism in the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province of Pakistan. But after the Taliban came into
power, they refused to recognize the Durand Line and in a way paved the way for Pushtun
nationalism. If they again power, they may again question the validity of Durand line.
Pakistan and the Free World made serious strategic blunder by supporting Islamists to boost
resistance against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Please note: Of the 23 initial eruptions of


Afghan rebellions against Soviet intervention, 18 were led by traditional Elders. This clearly
shows that by weakening old power structure, Pakistan and its allies have created ground for
obscure religious power structure that has led to blossoming of extremism and terrorism in
Afghanistan as well as in Pakistans tribal areas. There are no matching efforts to stem the tide of
obscurantism left loose by US and Pakistan through their blunder.
The dependency of the Afghan government and its security forces on high levels of international
assistance for the foreseeable future, especially in a time of global austerity, threatens to
undermine a sustainable transition.
Creating a stronger political consensus and a more solid economic foundation for the Afghan
state will be required for long-term stability in Afghanistan.
The United States supports the development of Afghanistans mineral sector in a way that
benefits the Afghan population and not a select few.
We talk about the political reconciliation in Afghanistan as do the United States and Karzai
regime but we forget that this objective could better be achieved while Constitution of
Afghanistan was being written. It is now difficult to achieve this objective amid the present
Constitution. Mis-governance and corruption in Afghanistan would make this objective an uphill
task, may be impossible to accomplish.
Though no specific indications have been given as to what happens after the drawdown is
complete in 2014, there are all indications that Americans would retain a strong presence in
Afghanistan, probably for an indefinite period. If this happens, it would be a disaster and a
cause of tension in the region and something that Russia, China and other stake-holders will
resent. Whether the Afghans would accept it for long is another question. As it is the relationship
between President Karzai and the US government which is not without wrinkles. In an address
to a youth rally, Karzai accused the United States and Allies of using this country for their own
purposes. There is also no certainty about the planned expansion of the Afghan forces.
If Taliban are allowed to take driving seat on power truck:

there would be instant demand for the withdrawal of remaining US troops from

Secondly the Afghan National Army might not be able to prove its real worth because of
problems relating to discipline and its fragile composition.
If the Pushtuns including Taliban tried to dominate minority ethnic groups, there would be
internal strife and there would be a clear danger for split of the country into two parts.
In case the security structure collapses, even the remaining US troops would find themselves in
extreme danger.


There is not much hope that the political and social fabric would be strong enough to sustain
normalcy in Afghanistan.
Another point is that Northern Alliance would not accept any political dispensation which would
not be based on plurality. This scenario clearly points to a civil strife. In that eventuality the
United States, Pakistan and other stake-holders might choose to remain at the fence but the spill
over effects on Afghanistans neighboring countries might lead to new problems of security.
At the same time, the outside forces, in any event, will be hardly in a position to prevent
Afghanistans partitioning.
Pakistan and Afghanistan, both need to be massively assisted. Pakistan has suffered
approximately US $ 60 billion plus because of economic derailment, human losses, structural
damages to roads and bridges and deployment of more than 100,000 troops on Afghan border.
The Pakistan armed forces lost around 5000 soldiers, with another 6,400 injured while the
Pakistani civilian losses stand at 40,000 killed by suicide bombers and acts of terrorism.
The United States, its allies and the world at large, therefore, owe much to Pakistan.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has not received enough recognition of its sacrifices and assistance in
terms of compensation of its huge losses. This has resulted in degeneration of Pakistans social
and economic structures as terrorism and extremism find fertile ground and suitable climate in
Pakistan now. If this trend is not reversed, Pakistan would not be able to help Afghanistan in
overcoming its problems. Unless Pakistan and Afghanistan are economically developed, they
both would remain vulnerable. It is no certain that they would receive required economic
With the 2014 withdrawal of NATO combat troops from Afghanistan looming, Pakistani
Officials now say that they just want to be recognized and given a seat at the negotiation table
with the Taliban and other Afghan factions as this is in the best interest Pakistan, United States,
Afghans and all others. At the same time, Pakistan wants to minimize Indias presence and
restrict its increasing influence in Afghanistan in future which it feels is not in the prime interest
of Pakistan as well as augurs well for peace in the region but United States is bent upon to give a
role to India in the future dispensation of Afghanistan. Although the Pakistani government now
seems to be downplaying the security-centric goal of strategic depth but at the same time, it is
not shy of telling the world about its security stakes in Afghanistan. The question is as to what
will happen in the wake of so-called US-NATO exit from Afghanistan.

In the final analysis I may conclude as follows:


In reconciliation process, Taliban should not be the main focus. All Afghan ethnic groups,
FATA elders and Pakistan should be part of reconciliation.

The United States should adopt holistic approach towards Afghan peace which means
that security needs of Pakistan should not be ignored and Kashmir issue be placed on backburner and must be resolved for a durable peace in the region.

The international community, particularly United States should pump in billions of

dollars in both, Pakistan and Afghanistan with the spirit of Marshal Plan. Only economic
development in the two countries would lead to sustainable peace.

Finally the Afghanistan be declared a UN recognized neutral country which should not
allow any other country to use its soil against any other country.




I refer to the Great Game going on in Afghanistan as Buzkushi because in the game of
Buzkushi, the dead goat lie in the centre and dozens of players try to capture it with the result
that different parts of the dead goat are taken away by different players.
In fact, the game of Buzkushi is being played in Afghanistan at present as United States is
pulling Afghanistan in its way, Iran, India and Pakistan are trying to capture it in their ways
while the Central Asian States are viewing this dangerous game of Buzkushi from their own
perspectives. China and Russia, the two main powers of the region have their own interests and
watching and playing their role in this New Great Game. What ultimate will be the result of
Buzkushi is yet to be seen.
On one hand, there is a clash of interests between United States and China, and on the other
hand, between United States and Russian Federation. Likewise, Pakistan and India have
competing interests while Iran is eyeing on Afghanistan with its own perspective. It is likelihood
that Pakistan and Iran may have converging interests as against United States in Afghanistan in
contrast to what has happened in the decade of 1979-89.
United States is imparting training to Afghan National Army to serve its own interests in
Afghanistan in future but time will tell whether it can serve that interest.
A few years back, United States was worried of the menace of terrorism while Russias worries
among others, drug smuggling as 30 to 40 thousand Russians are said to have died on account
of drugs being supplied from Afghanistan.
Moscow offered to Afghanistan to train its Officers in counter-drug smuggling b against the
wishes of the United States.
In this scenario, a Russian Official, in an interview with BBC, warned that if the said state of
affairs continued in Afghanistan, then Moscow would withdraw its cooperation in the United
States declared War on Terror.
As far as Afghan Parliament is concerned, one can very comfortably pinpoint who is serving the
interests of whom. For example, President Hamid Karzai removed a Governor of a province
who was supposed to be very close to UK. But later on, he had to reinstate the same Governor
giving in to the pressures from UK Government.
So far, all plans of United States have foundered. Washington tried to subdue Afghans by force
but it failed and consequently, now it has turned to reconciliation. It has invented a new
terminology of re-integration and when it failed, it reverted to the term of reconciliation. But
the way, they are approaching peace in Afghanistan, it seems very unlikely to achieve its aims.
Now, we have three scenarios in front of us:


First, United States wants to maintain its bases in the north, following withdrawal of its
combat forces in 2014;
Second, the United States would exit in the manner Soviet Union did in 1989, leaving
Afghanistan and Pakistan to face the civil strife scenarios of the late 1980s and the
Third, the best scenario is that of reconciliation between United States, Pakistan and
other regional countries to create a post-2014 Afghanistan that is acceptable to all and
which takes care of regional and international interests.

The third option is the only way forward but it has bleak chances of success.
For the first time, United States and Pakistan are coming on one page and Pakistan is exercising
its influence on Taliba to bring about a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
In case Taliban remain strong in east and south and Afghanistan plunges into Civil War, then it
has very serious negative impact on Pakistan including its defence and security.
Therefore, Pakistan should work for the solidarity of Afghanistan at all costs because stable
Afghanistan is the dire need of Pakistan than any other country of the world.
Pakistan should try to convene a meeting of President Hamid Karzai, Taliban ideologue,
Mullah Umar, Afghan leaders, Hikmat Yar and Abdullah Abdullah because it is in the best
interest of both, Pakistan and Afghanistan and the peace in the region.
In whatever direction the events in Afghanistan take turn, they will not harm United States or
India but will definitely affect Pakistan severely.
The policy-makers and establishment perceive a fear in their minds that if Afghanistan becomes
strong, then it may pose a threat to Pakistan. I understand that Afghanistan will never pose a
threat to Pakistan but if we will continue our policy of strategic depth, then it may trigger
disaster for Pakistan.
We shall have to abandon the policy of United States and adopt the policy of Peoples Republic of
China and secure our borders. We should support and work for the promotion of peace in




No country has suffered as much as Pakistan has by its participation in the Global War on
After the tragic events of 9/11, Pakistan was coerced upon to join US-led international coalition
to combat Global War on Terror in Afghanistan. Pakistan's role as a frontline state was
internationally recognized and appreciated. United States not only appreciated Pakistan's
contributions but also conferred the status of being a `major non-NATO ally'.
The United States has already announced that it will withdraw a large section of its armed forces
by 2014 and would handover the security of Afghanistan to Afghan forces. Being a next door
neighbor, Pakistan has not only always been seriously striving for peace and stability in
Afghanistan but has gone out of the way to facilitate the process. Not only Pakistan is involved
in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and has also offered to train their security forces but is also
facilitating the peace process. This paper is divided into three sections. Initially it discusses
issues that often impact Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, followed by Pakistan's contributions
towards peace, reconstruction and stability in Afghanistan over the years especially after the
outbreak of war on terror. The final section focuses on the likely developments in the post-US
withdrawal situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have never enjoyed the level of cordiality of relationship that most
Pakistanis envisaged. Even the existence of many complementarities were unable to exert
sufficient influence in order to have solid friendship between the two neighbors.
A critical review of Pak-Afghan relationship over the last 65 years tends to highlight the
existence of many irritants and problems.
Being next door neighbor, Pakistan is acutely conscious of likely adverse impact of the
instability in Afghanistan on it. Therefore, Pakistan has been consistently trying to inject seeds
of stability and facilitate the development process of Afghanistan.
Pakistan's dilemma is how to maintain friendly ties with the Afghans and make substantive
inputs towards the strengthening of the incumbent Afghan regime and simultaneously check
rapidly increasing Indian influence over Kabul. Not only the past policies of Pakistani
governments clearly reflect its constructive efforts to facilitate Afghans but even the current
efforts indicate that Pakistan is keen to see a stable Afghan regime.
During the Afghan war against the Soviets, the Pakistan government went out of the way to
accommodate more than four million Afghan refugees and also facilitated the Afghan resistance


groups in their efforts to get rid of foreign occupiers.

The last two decades have witnessed two radical developments on the global scene:

First, the end of the Cold War which gave birth to many new trends. Among those
trends, the ascendancy of economic factor was perhaps the most important.

The second pronounced trend that was identified was the simultaneously emergence of
integrative as well as disintegrative forces. Many old empires and states were
disintegrated into small units/states such as Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and new unions
and associations emerged such as EU, ASEAN, CIS, SCO etc.

A major development which has radically influenced the existing system is known as 9/11. The
tragic events of 11th September, 2001, not only focused the spotlight on terrorism and the
consequent formation of international coalition against terrorism but it also caused a US-led wars
against Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 9/11, debates over what exactly we mean by terrorism, its various categories (individual,
group and state terrorism), the differences between terrorist activities and freedom struggles and
mechanism to combat terrorism have started all over the world. While the debate on terrorism
continues, it is imperative to comprehend the factors that have frequently injected uncertainties
and complexities in Pak Afghan relations before one can highlight Pakistans contributions to
secure the much desired stability in Afghanistan.
Five issues effecting the Pakistan-Afghanistan relations need to be discussed and highlighted
here as each of these is continuously taking heavy toll of Pak-Afghan reservoir of goodwill.
Among these issues are included uncontrolled and wild rumors regarding the Talibans
adventurism, the status of Durand Line, Indo-Afghan relations, land-locked nature of
Afghanistan and nefarious activities of the Northern alliance. Each of these issues has been and
still continues to make adverse contributions, rather consistently.
Since the advent of Karazai government in Afghanistan, rumors, with no sound basis, regarding
the adventurism of Afghan Taliban with Pakistani connivance, kept and still continue to keep
appearing periodically.
Rumors like the holding of meetings of Taliban Shoora (Assembly of selected Elders) on
Pakistani territories especially at Quetta were frequently floated by Afghan Officials which were,
indeed, the product of the fertile imagination of certain Afghan Officials who were deeply
engaged in maligning Pakistan in one form or the other. But what is perhaps more important in
the current contextual situation is the simultaneity in which both President Karazai and his
ministers highlight their concerns, mostly unfounded, to a select but influential audience in USA
and Europe. Ironically, almost all these rumors and somewhat wild stories are based on either
concocted stories or deliberately planted with a view to paint Pakistan adversely. In some cases,
it is certainly the product of a fertile mind whose primary job is to manufacture damaging stories.
Invariably the originators of such rumors make no effort to produce the exact sources of


information, but instead rely heavily upon the hearsay or contrived circumstantial evidence that
is advanced in order to lend some credence to such stories. At times even the evidence is mixed
with half-truth with a view to lend a degree of credibility.
While the governments are expected to keep a tight control over propagandist wild stories, it is
equally important to ensure that its functionaries do not cross the limits and release rumors or
exaggerated wild stories without making the supporting evidence available.
A statement by President Karazai reflecting that Mulla Omar was seen in Quetta would
immediately take a heavy toll of existing goodwill. Admittedly explanation given later might
mitigate the effects but it cannot erode its initial impact altogether in a revolutionary age of
information technology. The above mentioned statement by President Karazai makes it amply
clear that he did not mean to malign Pakistan. It would only be appropriate to issue explanation
at that particular stage when such a statement was made public. Later explanation can only be
viewed as a damage control exercise. How would Pakistan view it or react when such an
accusative statement is made public, should also have been taken into consideration before
making a baseless pointer?
The second issue that has periodically impacted adversely upon Pak-Afghan relations revolves
around the age-old settled Pak-Afghan border known as Durand Line. Different interpretations
of the Durand Line often found space on the front pages of some newspapers and was also
beamed, at different times, as a lead story on the electronic media. Frequently President Karazai
side tracked the issue by simply stating that the matter was not discussed within his government.
Most informed Pakistanis view this as a rather simplistic, somewhat unconvincing explanation
and evasive policy pursuit. For many observers of Pak-Afghan relations, it is a common
knowledge that some of the members of his cabinet have repeatedly highlighted and advanced
ludicrous interpretations of this issue either directly or indirectly.
The last ludicrous story relating to Durand Line revolved around the age of the Durand
agreement with an assertion that the agreement had expired because its duration was only for
hundred years. Some people as well as the media men had gone out of the way to project this
issue unnecessarily with clear intentions to convince many that Durand Line agreement was
indeed for one hundred years. This, of course, implies that the agreement had expired in 1993
after completing its stipulated duration. No evidence has ever been advanced by any of the
promoters and supporters of this line of argument. Having gone through and scanned almost all
available documents, this writer has not been able to find any documentary evidence that clearly
highlights its age limit or even find a reference pointing to any other convincing evidence. 11 If
the age limit is not given in the agreement, then the agreement is considered permanent only
changeable if both parties agree to modify or change it.
While many scholars of international repute have clearly and repeatedly rejected the attempted

See the actual text of the agreement between Amir Abdur Rehman and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand in A
Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads relating to India and Neighboring countries, compiled by
C.U. Aitchison, Vol xiii Persia and Afghanistan, Mittal Publication, Delhi, 1983, pp.256-257. Also see Pak-Afghan
Discord: A Historical perspective (Documents 1855-1979),edited by Mehrunnisa Ali, Pakistan Study Centre,
University of Karachi, 1990, pp.56-57.


age limit attached to the Durand Line agreement, yet stories of this nature continue to keep
appearing periodically. Why? The only logical explanation one can give is that stories relating to
age limit are carefully planted by interested parties or advanced for short term political gains
even though, in some cases, the exponents themselves were in doubt about authenticity of such
interpretations but found it convenient at that particular moment. Such fabricated stories not
only tend to inject seeds of discord but also elicit long explanations from the affected party.
Recently the spokesperson of State department of US Victoria Nuland and US special
representative to Afghanistan Marc Grossman have categorically reaffirmed Washingtons
position over Durand Line and stressed that US recognized the Durand Line as an international
border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. 12
Third aspect of Pakistans Afghan dilemma revolves around the Indo-Afghan relations. There is
no doubt that almost all Indian governments have, in one form or the other, successfully
managed to bring almost all Afghan ruling groups since 1947 under their influence with the
possible exception of the Taliban. The degree of influence varied from regime to regime.
Presidents Karazais repeated assertion that he has made it very clear to his Indian friends that
Afghanistans relations with India would remain just and that they would not be affected or
allowed to be affected by Pakistans relations with either Kabul or New Delhi and same applies
to Pakistan, is somewhat reassuring unlike the stance taken by his Northern Alliance colleagues.
Theoretically, the approach appears to be fairly balanced but each country is also likely to pursue
a policy of its own choice. However it is indeed difficult to ignore the role played by powerful
groups within the governments and their external sympathizers.
For most Pakistanis, the experiences of the past interaction with Afghan governments have not
always been very pleasant. On many occasions, the unpleasant aspects took the front line. At
times, something totally different approach was experienced than what was earnestly expressed
by the rulers.
There is no doubt that people of both Pakistan and Afghanistan have great regard for each other
but the policies are made by the ruling groups. Not only the powerful elements within the
incumbent Karazai cabinet are extremely sympathetic to Pakistans eastern neighbor but also
appear to take some kind of uncanny pleasure in making Pakistan uncomfortable. It is difficult to
prove whether such pursuits are undertaken at the behest of their external patrons or the product
of their own well disguised dislike for Pakistan and the Pakistanis or overwhelmed by the vested
interests. Such elements appeared to take pride in advancing some one elses agenda and hence
they need to be controlled and made more responsible and nationalistic.
It is a well known fact that the Indians use Afghanistans territory to cause troubles in Pakistani
territories of Baluchistan and FATA. The current American Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel
had already stated in a talk at the Cameron University in Oklahoma in 2011 that India has over

US endorses Durand Line as Pak-Afghan border, Comment by Victoria Nuland (State Department Spokesperson)
and US special representative for Afghanistan Marc Grossman retrieved on4th April 2013.


the years financed problems for Pakistan from across the border in Afghanistan. 13 Such
sentiment have been frequently expressed by many observers that India has been using Afghan
territory to mount destabilization attempts against Pakistan both in FATA and Baluchistan.14
The fourth factor which has consistently made Pakistans Afghan dilemma more acute than it
needs to be revolves around the policy pursuits of the Northern Alliance.
To begin with it is somewhat incomprehensible for many to digest the overwhelmingly
importance that President Karazai has accorded to Northern Alliance compatriots. Almost all
factions of resistance fought against the Soviet occupation and in consequence all factions
deserved a share in the subsequent governance but the peace that followed was spoiled by the
ambitious members of Northern Alliance which forcefully deviated from the agreed path of
Perhaps Afghanistan would have been spared of the throws of Civil War and accompanying
devastation if the members of Northern alliance had complied with the agreed formula of
governance and opted for the accepted rules of the game. According to Peshawar Accord, each of
the resistance faction was given the time table to have its turn and share in running the
administration of Afghanistan.
Following the expiry of President Mujadidis term, Rabbani took over as President along with
his influential Defence Minister Ahmed Shah Masood. After the expiry of his stipulated term,
President Rabbani refused to step down. Consequently the next designated Prime Minister was
not allowed to take up his term of Office.
Denying the opportunity to next agreed leader to take his turn to rule the country, not only led to
Civil War but also facilitated the rise of War lords. The long Civil War along with the
accompanying undesired excesses facilitated the rise of Taliban who captured almost the entire
Afghanistan not because of any military prowess but more because of fatigue syndrome of the
The final contributive factor that is almost continuously making Pakistans dilemma rather acute
is linked with the land-locked nature of Afghanistan. Compared to Indias policy pursuits
regarding other land-lock countries of South Asia, namely Nepal and Bhutan, Pakistans dealings
with Afghanistan are far more impressive. Pakistan does not use the land-locked nature of
Afghanistan for its own benefits. On the contrary Pakistan has given major concessions to its
Afghan brethren which, according to many Pakistanis, are not really well appreciated by the


See Dawn, Feb.2, 2013.

Ibid. Also see Towards 2014: Challenges for Pakistan by Tariq Osman Hyder in The Nations, Nov.6, 2012


Cognizant of factors that have complicated the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistans efforts have
always been directed to ameliorate the situation and facilitate the Afghans to effectively deal
with them in congruence with the dictates of its national interest.
Among the significant issues that have been frequently highlighted relate to booming drugs
production and its trade, fairly high level of corruption among the government functionaries,
fragile and weak institutions, existence of large number of foreign troops on its soil, poor law
and order situation and increasing Indian influence etc.
Instead of focusing on the factors that have complicated the situation in Afghanistan, both the
Americans and the Afghan Government opted for diversionary approach and began to indulge in
blame game. Both began to put blame on Pakistan for their own inability and accused Pakistan
for not effectively checking infiltrations. They argued that Afghan Taliban take refuge in
Pakistan and after regrouping attack both the Afghan National Army (ANA) the
International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF).
In addition, they keep on pressurizing the Pakistani government to undertake operations against
North Waziristan-based Haqqani group which, in their perception was launching attacks
periodically against the Afghan government as well as against the foreign forces.
On the other hand, when Pakistani government requested them to check the raids on Pakistan
that were regularly undertaken by Fazalullah group, neither the Americans nor the Afghan
Government attempted to check the its activities against Pakistan.
An objective analysis by neutral observers is likely to highlight the number of measures
undertaken over the years by Pakistan which includes:

the transit trade facilities,

looking after 2.5 million Afghan refugees who are still enjoying Pakistans hospitality,
regular supplies of foodstuff and construction material,
construction of many projects including the recently opened road from Peshawar to
appropriate financial assistance,
stationing of troops in tribal areas with a view to plug infiltrations,
undertaking operations to flush out Taliban and Al-Qaeda activists,
increased vigilance and computerization of border crossings at legitimate routes,
sharing intelligence information,
regularly participating in tripartite commission meetings in order to tighten border
controls and to help Afghanistan in handling the linked issues,
training of few Afghan police and a genuine offer to train army etc.

The list is indeed long but only few aspects are mentioned here.
The panacea of Afghan troubles revolves around what can be termed as cooperative and
friendly relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


To put the blame for its own internal troubles on the good intentioned Pakistanis had only
strengthened the hands of those who do not want to see the advent of stable and friendly
relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan and peace in the region.
In recent times, many articles have appeared in non-regional magazines, depicting vast network
of corruption, highhandedness of warlords, breakdown of law and order, inefficiency of the
administrative network even in those area where Taliban have no presence and are far away from
Pakistani border. Indeed, both the internal and external elements are actively working to sabotage
the constructive drift towards what the Pakistanis want a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.
Neither the existence of frequent meetings of the tripartite commission nor frequent meetings of
high level Officials have been able to shed the mutual suspicions that have crept in over the
To evolve a cooperative and friendly relationship with Pakistan, the Afghan rulers need to shed
the policy of putting blames and focus on making concerted efforts to remove corruption, gain
effective control over warlords and drug barons, improve administrative network all over the
country, abandon the policy of shifting responsibilities, and initiate dialogue with all the
estranged elements within Afghan society.
Leaders of Pakistan repeatedly offered to help the Afghan rulers. In recent times many
constructive suggestions have been made in order to reduce distrust and improve relations. These
suggestions include the removal of contrived irritants like not recognizing Durand Line as a
settled border in congruence with 1893 treaty despite the fact that the American government, the
main supporter of current Afghan regime, has already recognized it as an international border
between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan has always been deeply interested in Afghans welfare and has consistently extended its
full cooperation.
Cognizant of close geographical proximity, sharing a long and difficult border stretching over
2500 km, close ethnic linkages, shared historical experiences and trading interactions, both
Pakistan and Afghanistan need to work hard towards the attainment of closer ties and increasing
cooperation in almost all fields.
The existence of Pakhtoons on both sides of border makes it imperative for both to avoid
irritants, unnecessary conflict situations, provocative statements, undesired insinuations and wild
accusations etc. If one is annoyed over certain aspect of a particular policy, it should immediately
get in touch with the counterpart and try to resolve it quickly.
Compared to others, Pakistan is better placed to facilitate the process of reconciliation between
the current regime and the Taliban. The commonality of religion, language, history, culture,
tradition and age-old tribal linkages enhance the significance of the role that Pakistan can play.
Pakistan has almost consistently stressed its willingness to facilitate the desired reconciliation


between estranged Afghan factions.

No country has suffered as much as Pakistan has because of the war next door and consequent
instability in Afghanistan.
Roughly calculated figures revolve around US $ 90 billion dollars loss since Pakistan's
participations in the US W on Terror. The enormous loss has actually strengthened the hands
of many domestic critics who regularly advocate an immediate withdrawal from the coalition
The vacillating attitude of the Americans in terms of their commitment and continued pressure
on Pakistan to do more has caused considerable uneasiness among many Pakistanis. Despite
enormous losses, Pakistan continues to play an active role in the reconstruction process of
Afghanistan. Notwithstanding, Pakistan has built roads, university blocs, hostels, schools,
hospitals, besides donations of field hospitals and ambulances to several provinces of
Admittedly, the international community helped Pakistan during the war against the Soviets but
once the war was over, not only the international aid quickly dried up and since then the entire
financial burden has been continuously shouldered by the government of Pakistan but many
unforeseen problems such as sectarianism, drugs, proliferation of small arms etc. began to plague
Pakistani society.15
Despite incurring enormous losses, Pakistan continues to host 2.5 million Afghan refugees and is
regularly making contributions towards Afghan reconstruction process.
The UNHCR started a program of repatriation of Afghan refugees but soon discovered that 37%
of voluntarily returning Afghan refugees were back in Pakistan within few weeks.16
Around 60,000 Afghans cross the border daily for business, jobs, medical treatment, education,
and visit relatives, this does not include tens of thousands, crossing over the border under
easement right in far flung tribal region.17 Not only Pakistani government offers more than 500
scholarships annually to Afghan graduate and post graduate students and more than 7000
students are already studying in various Pakistani educational institutions which amount to be
around 50% of Afghan students studying abroad but also more than 90% Afghans seeking
medical treatment abroad visit Pakistan.18
Pakistan has built roads, university blocks / hostels (Kabul, Nangarhar, Bulkh, and Mazar-eSharif) and schools (Rehman Baba in Kabul), hospitals (Nishter Kidney Hospital in Jalalabad)
and donated field hospitals and ambulances to several provinces. Among other projects that are

For a detailed analysis of adverse impact on Pakistani society see Impact of the Afghan War on Pakistan by
Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema in Pakistan Horizon, Vol.XLI, Jan. 1988, pp.23-45.
See Pakistans Perceptions on the War on Terror (HE the High Commissioner for Pakistan in Australia, Mr.
Abdullah Malik spoke to the USI of ACT in Canberra on 8 August 2012, RUSI of Australia Website Presentation
Transcript, p.7.


in the pipeline include two eye hospitals, Limb Center in Badakhshan, two Nuclear Medical
Centers in Kabul and Jalalabad etc.19 Not only Pakistan provides 500 scholarships annually but
already more than 7000 students are studying in Pakistan. Roughly about 90% Afghans seeking
medical treatment visit Pakistan (40% patients in Peshawar and 50% in Quetta). Two Pakistani
hospitals perform free eye surgery on 30,000 Afghans every year. Roughly about 70,000 Afghans
legally enter Pakistan daily for different reasons.20
It is a well known fact that United States has not been successful in attaining fully its desired
objectives through its military approach. Undoubtedly it has been able to weaken Al-Qaedas
strength and hold in Afghanistan but it has not been able to secure desired level of peace and
stability in Afghanistan. To secure Afghan reconciliation and reintegration, perhaps no other
country than Pakistan is better placed.
While America had encouraged India to play a much wider role than what it is playing, the
Indian involvement did not pay the desired dividends. Instead, India began to pursue its own
objectives, using the Afghan territory to destabilize Baluchistan and FATA. As it has been
mentioned above that the new American Secretary Defense had already admitted it and openly
stated that India has been using Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan, the US
administration has not taken, so far, adequate measures to check the nefarious activities of the
India continues to be spoiler in the entire scenario. Indeed India is unable and unlikely to replace
US-NATO superstructure. While with the help of the Americans, the Afghan Army and Police
has been established which would be a kind of replacement after 2014 drawdown period, the
question that has been haunting many observers revolves around the funding of both Police and
Army after the US-NATO withdrawal. In addition many observers have demonstrated doubts
about the ability and efficacy of the Afghan National Army (ANA). Recently reported incidents
in Kunar and Tangi valley clearly demonstrated that ANA does not have capacity to effectively
deal with the Afghan Taliban.22 The Kunar incident eventually required the American air force
involvement to effectively deal with the emerging situation. 23 Admittedly, the US will continue
to maintain certain amount of troops, keep control of various air bases they have built, and
provide certain amount of funding to maintain the Afghan Army and Police, but funds needed to
maintain large Afghan Forces would require the support of many NATO countries.
Many scenarios following the American drawdown have been highlighted by many regional and
international observers. Among these projected scenarios are:

For details see Pakistans role in Afghanistans reconstruction Retrieved on 15 April
The Nation, Nov.6, 2012
Dawn, Feb, 27, 2013.
For details see No ray of hope by Najamuddin Shaikh in Dawn, April 10, 2013.


Taliban take over,

division of the country,
continued internal conflict and
desired emergent stability in Afghanistan appears to be most prominent. 24

Given the international support that is regularly extended to Karazai regime, the chances of
Taliban takeover does not seem very bright. While an immediate Taliban take over seems to be
improbable but its possibility cannot be altogether ruled out.
It is not too difficult to assume that Taliban rule, if they are able to take control, will be lot more
realistic and careful than they were in their previous stint.
Given the material and non-material investment of the international community in Afghanistan, it
does not seem that Taliban would be allowed to return to power. A much more realistic scenario
seems to be some form of power sharing formula.
The second scenario revolves around the division of country. Many analysts have been pondering
over such an eventuality. Neither the international community nor the regional powers nor the
Afghans themselves are likely to support such a development. However it is difficult to dismiss
the emergence of various centers of powers in either a loose federation or confederation.
Given the fact that Afghanistan society consists of various tribes, the emergence of various
centers of powers is not a too far fetched notion. Although the Americans have built many
formidable bases in Kandahar, Bagram, Shindad and near Mazar-i-Sharif but after the
drawdown, one cannot completely overlook the possibilities of Taliban overrunning the base at
Kandahar.25 Such an eventuality could effective divide Afghanistan.
In the third scenario , many observers believe that status quo might prevail for some time. It does
not seem too much out of place that the existing situation continues until the major factions
within Afghan society come to some form of understanding and evolve a negotiated functional
mechanism to collectively run the country. This would amount what some writers and the
Pakistanis have been promoting an Afghan- led recipe.
Admittedly to reach an agreed formula, various factions would continue to indulge in force
posturing with periodic breakdowns and patches of negotiations. The incumbent Afghan
government enjoys an advantageous position as long as it has the support of the Americans
along with their substantive presence in the country. However, once the American pull out most
of their forces along with the air force, the situation can radically change and may facilitate the
desired tightened control of Taliban in southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan. Such a
scenario could indeed strengthen Talibans negotiation position.
On the other hand, weakened Afghan government may not be in a position to effectively prevent
the possible division of the country. However, if the reasonable number of American-led

See Afghanistan beyond 2014 by Mahmood Shah in Dawn, Feb.1, 2013.



external forces continue to stay in the country, it is often assumed that the existing status quo
could continue for quite sometimes. As has been often stated that the Americans are not likely to
abandon altogether what they have so far achieved in Afghanistan and would continue making
efforts to have effective negotiations started with Taliban, this may result in the lengthening of
status quo.
The fourth scenario which one could visualize revolves around the desired stability in
Afghanistan attained by the Afghans themselves. This implies that all external forces are pulled
out and the entire mess is left to the Afghans to sort out themselves.
As mentioned above, it will have to be an Afghan-led recipe for Afghanistan. Such an approach
can be supported and eventual recipe could elicit guarantees not only from the neighboring
countries but also from great powers. Some writers regard such an eventuality as somewhat
idealistic but not impossible.26
In conclusion, it needs to be stressed that Pakistan has not only massively suffered and adversely
effected country by Afghanistans troubles but it also continues to remain a country which keenly
desires stability in Afghanistan for a number of reasons.
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (the founder of Pakistan) referred to Afghanistan and
Pakistan as two sister nations and forcefully stressed that the two countries need to have close
friendship and hoped that they will be able to resolve all their differences.27
Among other reasons that forcefully influence Pakistani policies include the existence of a large
ethnic Pakhtoon population on both sides of Pak-Afghan border, the age-old trading links
(Current formal exports to Afghanistan is around US $ 02 billion annually. This does not include
informal trade)28. Stability in Afghanistan would enable Pakistan to benefit from energy
resources of many Central Asian States such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and the
danger of conflict-spillover would subside considerably.
While it needs to be stated here that Pak-Afghan relations over the last sixty five years have
experienced many ups and downs periodically, currently there seems to exist a consensus among
the political parties as well as other opinion makers that Afghanistan is a key neighbor and
promotion of mutual respect and dignity in bilateral relations with this sensitive neighbor is
vital.29 Not only the leaders of two countries have close and regular contacts but Pakistan
believes that a stable Afghanistan constitutes a pre-requisite for stability and peace in
Pakistan.30 Pakistan has also been stressing frequently that essential solutions to the problems

See Dr. Saeeduddin Ahmed (ed) Selected Documents on Pakistans relations with Afghanistan 1947-85,
National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, 1986, p.1
See The Nation, Nov.6, 2012
See Pakistan and Turkey are key Actors for a True Solution in Afghanistan, retrieved on 15th April 2013.


of Afghanistan can only emerge domestically and terms it as Afghan-led solution.31




The American withdrawal poses several serious challenges not only for Pakistan but also for
USA and Afghanistan itself, particularly the reconstruction and building up stability in war-torn
Afghanistan, ravaged by more than three decades of conflicts with involvement of several
external key players.
In modern history, every war, from 2nd World War to 1979 Afghan War, ended with the peace
talks. Similarly, United States ultimately came to conclude that dialogue with the Taliban to
maintain everlasting peace in Afghanistan is necessary.
Many big powers from Greeks to the Soviet Union, have tried to conquer Afghanistan but could
not subdue them rather Afghanistan proved to be a graveyard of many kingdoms.
After spending billions of dollars and losing several hundred of lives, United States cannot
control Afghanistan completely.32
Political compulsions, military imperatives and economic cost of around US $113 billion per
year for maintaining 100,000 troops also played vital role in making the decision of
withdrawal.33 America is spending almost US $ 1 million on every US soldier per year in
Afghanistan out of the money of US tax payers. This could create almost 60,000 jobs in the
United States.34 So the policy makers in United States faced internal pressure since long to
withdraw from Afghanistan for the sake of her own economy.
The fundamental challenge to the United States is the armed groups such as Haqqani, Hikmatyar
and Taliban, armed under Regan regime fighting against the foreign occupation of Soviet Union,
now fighting against foreign occupation of United States. The underlying objective of US exit
plan is to save credibility of the US military, seen as losing in the battlefield by a face saving end
Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defence also urged for thinking carefully regarding the cost of
failure.36 The present situation in Afghanistan demonstrates that American imperial design has

Robert D. Blackwill, Plan B in Afghanistan, Why a De Facto Partition Is the Least Bad
Options, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 90, issue 42, pp.2-11.
Brigadier Arvind Thakur, Beyond 2014: Indias Security Concerns and Indo-U.S. Strategic Partnership in
Afghanistan, United States Army War College, M.Phil thesis, 2012, P. 1.
Wildman, David, It's Time to End the War in Afghanistan, 2010, vol. 76, issue 1-3, p.16.
Ibid., p. 15.


resulted into a failure without future prospect of stability, development and peace in the country.
President Obama urged in an interview, There needs to be an Exit strategy for Afghanistan so
that US policy does not appear to be perpetual drift.37
Obamas surge strategy looked like a part of US exit strategy to pull the American troops out of
Afghanistan as soon as possible by pressurising the Taliban to negotiate for peace in
Finally, President Obama decided to negotiate with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan as early as
possible as the Karzai government is not successful in providing stability in Afghanistan.
The decision to approach Taliban for peace talks first came into light in The London Conference
on Afghanistan, held on January 28, 2010.
Pakistani people saw his move as a big ray of hope because Pakistan was the only country who
suffered more as compared to any other country in the war in terms of economic and human loss.
More than one decade of the war has a cataclysmic effect on Pakistan's security, internal stability
and peace.
Pak-Afghan relations have never been cordial since the establishment of Pakistan except during
the reign of Taliban.
Peace in Pakistan depends on stability in neighbouring Afghanistan and their mutual relationship
in post-American withdrawal Afghanistan.
The insecurity in Afghanistan is interlinked with security problem of Pakistan due to long
porous border between the two states, not guarded effectively to stop the cross border movement
of extremist and militant elements.
The exit policy seems to be further deteriorating the Afghanistan's situation and the serious
concerns of conflict, having spill over effect on Pakistan, being a front line ally of the United
States in the War on Terror on one side and the hub of cross border relations with the Taliban
on the other hand.
Besides, an Indian friendly Afghanistan will lead towards insecurity of Pakistan by putting the
two enemy states on the two different fronts of Pakistan.
A Pakistan friendly Afghanistan is, therefore, important not only to escape from Indian threat
but also to save it from irredentist claim of Afghanistan regarding Pashtun-dominated area in the

Katzaman, Kenneth. Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, security and US policy CRS report to Congress,
June 18, 2009, p.30.
D. Suba Chandran, The New Great Instability: Afghanistan after the American Exit, Journal
of Defence Studies, Vol. 4., No. 4., October 2010, p. 129.


Both India and Pakistan believe that they can get strategic depth against each other by
influencing Afghanistan.
Pakistan view Afghanistan as an important actor to balance Indias preponderance in South
Asia.40 And Pakistan considered the Taliban as an instrument not only to control Afghanistan but
also to undercut the Indian influence in the region.41
Pakistan fears that the American withdrawal will increase Indian and Iranian influence in
Afghanistan that can jeopardise Pakistans internal security.42
United States had spent almost more than US $300 billion on Afghanistan and 98% of it has
gone to military purposes such as training the Afghan soldiers and Police, spending on US
soldiers and highly paid private security contractors. None of it has been spent on education and
health care facilities that could help the Afghan children in their education and save Afghan
women dying each day due to lack of healthcare.43
United States with 150,000 troops of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 30,000
more troops than the Soviet Union deployed in Afghan War of 1979 has been unable to maintain
According to standard counter-insurgency doctrine, these numbers should be more than double to
have some chances to pacify the country. A large occupying army, ignorant of local customs,
heritage, value, language, tribal structure, politics and local history cannot control the region
easily.44 ISAF has been facing difficulty to work with local political actors continuously since
long.45 Afghanistan cannot be transformed from failed state to a functioning state by spending
billions of dollars on military build-up rather than spending on socio-economic infrastructure.
Hamid Karazai government has been unsuccessful in maintaining peace, stability and security of
local population particularly due to corruption, mis-governance and ill-will among the warlords
that is affecting the reconstruction progress. Peoples sufferings are increasing day by day.
Absence of rule of law, physical and economic insecurity are the major hurdles in the progress of
the country. These problems are inter-related and could not be resolved without addressing the
other. Karzai government has failed to get general public support because of bad governance and

Hussain, R.,Pakistans Relations with Afghanistan: Continuity and Change, 2000,

Strategic Studies 22(4).
Weinbaum, M.G., Pakistan and Afghanistan: The Strategic Relationship, 1991, Asian
Survey 31(6): 49899.
Haqqani, H., Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, 2005, Washington, DC: Carnegie

Endowment for International Peace.


Opcit, Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, p. 610.

Opcit, Wildman, David, p. 14.
Opcit. Robert D. Blackwill, p. 42.
Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, A Path to Peace in Afghanistan: Revitalizing Linkage in
Development, Diplomacy and Security, Orbis, Fall 2011, pp. 600-612.


this problem is leading towards the insurgency of Taliban as the majority of Afghan people are
not supporting US anti-insurgency operations.46
It is very difficult to establish a stable democratic government in Afghanistan as it has never
experienced a stable democratic regime because the ruling elites and warlords neither have the
political will nor have potential to establish and run popular and stable governments.
Even Pakistan which is a democratic country constitutionally could hardly establish the
democratic norms and values with stable democratic government in the recent times, following
experiencing long intervals of dictatorial regimes.
Although donors conference in Bonn had ended with pledges to provide financial assistance for
the reconstruction of Afghanistan but it was difficult to provide such a huge amount of aid for
sustainable development in the country. Transforming a deeply divided, tribal-based society into
a self-sufficient, stable democracy would require a multi-decade commitment. 47 International
community has provided almost more than US $100 billion annually by 2010 for military and
other assistance including only about US $ 10 billion for development aid. Most of this aid is
going in the hands of few people and been used on consumptive areas rather than productive
areas such as creating jobs and expanding business. 48 Hardly sustainable economic progress can
be made with the help of foreign investment without proper future planning. The policy of
spending billions of dollars for military purposes in the country, that has the highest infant
mortality and second highest maternal mortality rates in the world, could neither bring stability
in the state nor help in winning the hearts and minds of the local community. 49 The security
arrangement costs around US $10 billion dollars per year in post-2014 Afghanistan and the
country with revenue of US $1 billion will be in difficult position to sustain economically and
politically. Hamid Karazai admitted in December 2011, during the Bonn Conference that it could
take more ten years to sustain Afghan government without the current external aid amounting
almost US $350 billion per year.50
The US disengagement plan can allow re-emergence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban particularly in
eastern and southern partS of Afghanistan.51 The infrastructure of government is yet not fully
matured and completely developed and any loss of grip on security may lead to a resurgence of
The military solution could not be the only way to materialise and establish peace in Afghanistan
but it is linked to better economy, good governance and effective regional and global politics.

Opcit., D. Suba Chandran, p.130.

Malou Innocent and Ted Galen Carpenter, Escaping the Graveyard of Empires, A
Strategy to Exit Afghanistan, Cato Institute, Washington D.C. USA, 2009, p.2.
Opcit, Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, p. 605.
Opcit., Wildman, David,p.14.
Opcit., Brigadier Arvind Thakur, P. 8.
Ahmad Majidyar, 5 ways to help fix Afghanistan, October 1st, 2012, CNN World.


Taliban are still strong in the southern Afghanistan such as in Oruzgan, Kandhar, Helmand and
Zabol provinces and playing vital role in eastern Afghanistan such as in Konar, Khowst,
Nuristan, Nangarhar and Paktia and have taken over the functions of the state by collecting taxes
and maintaining orders.52
Until now, the Afghan Security Forces are responsible for about 25 percent of population
concentrated in seven geographic areas so it seems to be difficult to control entire country by
2014.53 Country needs state-building.
Taliban will be controlling south and some eastern parts of Afghanistan while the warlords will
control the northern region and central area whereas the government will have a foot hold on the
capital Kabul and some key urban areas of low-level conflict or Civil War among these groups.
The presence of international forces and ever increasing number of troops has little impact on the
security situation in Afghanistan. Rather it has further deteriorated, particularly in the East and
Ethnic minorities groups are rearming themselves on feeling fear from the backstage negotiation
and secret deal of Hamid Karazai with the Taliban to prolong his reign.55
The Taliban are involved in making alliance with the anti-government and anti-US forces to get
foothold in Afghanistan so that after the return of forces, they can re-emerge easily as a powerful
force. Therefore, Taliban have coined the phrase, the Americans have watches but we have the
Pakistans policy towards Afghanistan is is particularly concerned on account of Indias
enhanced role in Afghanistan. Pakistan does not want a deep foothold of India in Afghanistan.
Indian attempts to dominate Afghanistan would not only minimise Pakistans involvement in
Afghanistan but also jeopardise the security situation in Pakistan.
Pak-Afghan relations were at peak during Taliban regime as the main supporter and promoter
whereas India supported the Northern Alliance.
India supported the Northern Alliance against Pakistan-backed Taliban and played vital role in
the establishment of post-Taliban Karazai government. India has invested a lot in Afghanistan for

UNAMA, Afghanistan: Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2010, Kabul-Afghanistan,
March 2011, P.i: Cf. ).
Geoff Burt, Mark Sedra, And Michael Lawrence, The Afghan exit strategy is fraught with
peril, The Globe and Mail, December 7, 2011.
Shanthie Mariet D'Souza, Talking to the Taliban: Will it Ensure Peace in Afghanistan?,
Strategic Analysis, 2009, 33:2, 254-272
Opcit, Ahmad Majidyar.
Caroline Tosh and Hafizullah Gardesh, Growing Support for Taleban Talks, Afghan
Recovery Report, 293, Kabul, June 16, 2008.


reconstruction purposes. Manmohan Singh, Indian Prime Minister was the first head of
government who visited Afghanistan in 2005 and it was the first visit by the Indian head of
government after 1976. Since 2001, India has contributed US $1.3 billion. 57 India has
multidimensional investment in Afghanistan since the removal of Taliban regime.58 including the
opening of a full fledge Embassy in 2002 from Liaison Office including US $70 million
assistance in the construction of Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan, building the Salma Dam
Power Project in Heart province, involving a commitment of around US $80 million, building of
new Parliament building in Afghanistan.59 India is not only involved in reconstruction of
Afghanistan but also in the rebuilding of institutional capacity such as training of professionals
including government officials.60 New Delhi supported the Karazai government from the outset
and never tries to establish relations beyond Karzai.
Pakistan has advantage over India in terms of its deep roots in Afghanistan. While India has
never developed relations with any of such organisations as Taliban, Hizb-e-Islami and Haqqani
network, Pakistan has strong links with all these groups because these were supported by
Pakistan during Afghan war of 1979.61 The opening of Indian Consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar,
Herat and Mizar-e-Sharif has been seen with scepticism by Pakistan, considering these
Consulates as the instruments of intelligence against Pakistan. Pakistan alleges that these
Consulates, particularly in Kandhar and Jalalabad are sources of funding for Baluch tribal leaders
under the banner of Baluchistan Liberation Army to destabilise and disintegrate Pakistan.62
Welcoming attitude of Karazai towards India has been seen as a loss of political influence of
Pakistan over Afghanistan, particularly in the context of Pakistan's unsettled issues with India.
The increase influence of India in Afghanistan and increasing Indo-US ties have also been seen
detrimental to the strategic interests of Pakistan and China.
Washington is feeling immense pressure from Pakistan to limit Indias role by giving more
important role to Pakistan.63
India is also feeling now frustration as United States, one of the major supporters and donors of
Post-Taliban Afghanistan, can be on low ebb of bilateral relations with Afghanistan after USNATO withdrawal while Pakistan is playing a key role in negotiating with the Taliban. India is
also worried on too fast American withdrawal by leaving the door open for Pakistans choice in
installing a planted regime.64

D. Suba Chandran, p.136.

Basu, P.P., India and Post-Taliban Afghanistan: Stakes, Opportunities and Challenges,
India Quarterly 63(3),2007 pp. 90-98.
Harsh V. Pant, Indias Challenge In Afghanistan: With Power Comes Responsibility,
Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice
Volume 2(1), 2010, p. 40.
ibid, p. 42.
Opcit., D. Suba Chandran,p.136.
Opcit., Harsh V. Pant, pp. 46-47.
Emily Wax, Indias eager courtship of Afghanistan comes at a steep price, The Washington Post (3 April 2010),
Shanthie Mariet DSouza1, India, Afghanistan and the End Game?, ISAS Working Paper No. 124-14 March
2011, pp.17-19.


Pakistans most desirable option is a stable Afghanistan because an instable Afghanistan will
deteriorate the Pakistans security situation further.
Talibans attack on major coalition base in Helmand is leading to the presumption that the
security control in the southern area is temporary, fragile and easily reversible.
Alarming rise in attacks within Afghanistan shows that the militants are trying to blow back in
the post-US withdrawal situation in Afghanistan. These events undermine not only the US Exit
strategy but also transition from US security personnel to Afghan Security Forces.65
The Taliban continues to attack on forces and individuals inside Pakistan from their sanctuaries
in the bordering area of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The phenomenon of Taliban has grappled
Pakistan by creating serious security problems for Pakistan by extending terrorist activities in the
mainland Pakistan, coupled with severe economic deterioration. These Taliban activities
weakened Pakistan and affected its ability to deal with external affairs by involving policy
makers and law enforcement agencies on the domestic front to cope up with this internal
Pakistan's relations with Taliban are creating trouble for the Pakistani society itself, particularly
since the start of counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan by US forces. These militant
elements, if not defeated and eliminated, can be a constant threat to Pakistan's sovereignty and
peaceful identity as the Pakistani society will further polarise between radicalists and moderates
due to the War on Terror.
The Talibization of Pakistan could also get further boost in the wake of American withdrawal
from Afghanistan without maintaining peace and leaving a stable government behind.
The Obama administrations March 2009 strategic review declared, [T]he core goal of the U.S.
must be to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan, and to prevent
their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan.66
Insecurity and instability in the bordering areas of Pakistan are also additional economic burden
over the country that is already facing the socio-economic problems due to the War on Terror.
If US do not make any plan to repatriate these refugees, this will not only be a big economic
challenge but also a vital security issue as many militants and extremists in the disguise of
refugees will jeopardise Pakistan's internal security.
Pakistan has been alleged to support Mulllah Omar-led Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network
since long. It is a big challenge before Pakistani policy makers to neutralise this concept by

Opcit, Ahmad Majidyar.

Opcit. Malou Innocent and Ted Galen Carpenter, p.3.


taking some steps against such elements. Repeating allegations on Pakistans engagement with
militants is making Pak-US relations worse.67
In the beginning of the war, it was feared that this war would destabilise Pakistan due to the
Pashtun ethnic groups and Taliban, enjoying cross border ties with Pakistan. Now this fear is a
reality in the shape of Pakistani Talibans threat.
Afghanistans history reveals that alone military strategy in the absence of any comprehensive
political effort cannot maintain peace and stability for the long-term and this long-term instability
threatens Pakistan's peace and stability.
Three million Afghan and almost 20 million Afghan relatives live inside Pakistan including
Afghan refugees of 1979 Afghan war. 68 These refugees are not only economic burden but also
create upheavals in the society in the context of their connections with Taliban or extremist
When US forces vacated the border posts in Kunar and Nuristan, Taliban emerged under the
leadership of Qari Ziaur Rehman and attacked on Pakistani law enforcement agencies. It is said
many such elements are supported by regional players to destabilise Pakistan. It is alleged that
many external powers are trying to destabilise and disintegrate Pakistan by using the current
scenario as an opportunity.
Pakistan is preoccupied with an existential threat and fighting battles in its home ground.
Terrorists are making havoc by targeting common people and law enforcement agencies, military
installations and high officials.
Al-Qaeda and its counterparts have core objectives of defeating United States in Afghanistan
and destroying the forces of democracy in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan; destabilising the
Pakistan and Afghanistan by disrupting the peace in these states.69
Tom Hanks, a leading Character in Charlie Wilsons War noted, This is what we always do. We
always go in with our ideals and we change the world and then we leave. We always leave. But
that ball, though, it keeps on bouncing. . . .. 70
Although US has achieved many overt policy objectives in Afghanistan such as Al-Qaeda has
been disrupted, Osama is the story of the past and Taliban are weak yet Taliban are constant
threat to US and Pakistan by tarnishing the socio-economic fabric of the society through target
killings, suicide bombings and attacks on military air bases and installations.
In case of American withdrawal without proper planning, it will create a political vacuum just
like as of 1990s.
Opcit., Ahmad Majidyar.
Opcit., Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, p.605.
Bruce Hoffman,, How to Win Afghanistan, , The National Interest, 2009.
Opcit., Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, p. 607.


Not only the internal groups but also regional states such as India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran
and the Central Asian Republics have considerable strategic interests in the future of
This vacuum will provide opportunity to major internal players to steer the nation in the direction
that suits better to their own political agenda to get more political power. The chances of
emergences of radical organisations will be increased further in such situation and Pakistan may
be the victim of such terrorist activities in future.
British Deputy Prime Pinister, Nick Clegg warned, The great dilemma now is, how can we
convert [the troop surge] into a political settlement.71
Karazai government is making deal with individuals who worked for Taliban but such
individuals cannot deliver any valuable contribution in terms of intelligence and political
contribution in the absence of a formal deal.
Abdul Wahid Baghrani is one of such example who was a former Taliban leader but could not
play any effective role after taking role in the present government.72
The cooperation of Pakistan is essential for the advancement of a meaningful reconciliation
process due to its cross border ethnic and tribal ties and past understanding of Taliban.
United States has an advantage of friendship between Pakistan and Taliban by using Pakistan as
a channel of communication with Taliban factions to hold peace talks for the peace of
Afghanistan. With US withdrawal in sight, Pakistan has the opportunity to take active role by
convincing their old friends to play their part in the future of Afghanistan.
The United States stated objectives have been achieved by dismantling the Al-Qaeda and
removing Osama from the scene. Now it seems that United States has no long-term national
interests in Afghanistan. The United States only needs a negotiated settlement rather than defea.
So Pakistan can play very effective role in this scenario by negotiating with the Taliban who
want to run Afghanistan at least as an important actor.
India is worried on the role of Pakistans military in the reconciliation efforts between Karzai and
Taliban to establish peace in the post-US withdrawal situation. 73 The coexistence of two different
societies, one a localised tribal based and the other a western-styled democracy, seems to be
challenging. The reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan is a challenging task that could take

Cited in Newsweek, 19 September 2010, at


Opcit., Shanthie Mariet D'Souza, p. 263.

Shanthie Mariet D'Souza, Great Game's Endgame?, Business Standard (New Delhi: 31 October 2010), endgame/413240/.


many years. AfPak has become inseparable.74 The confidence building measures between
Pakistan and Afghanistan have been taken through peace Jirga and Shuras to promote
reconciliation efforts.75 Pak-Afghan trade has been increased from US $ 40 million to US $1
billion in a decade. This increase in trade has positive development in terms of economic benefit
to both sides.76

Pakistans interests are more at stake in Afghanistan future as compared to any other state
even than USA.77

The unplanned and early withdrawal without proper establishment of government,

Afghanistan may result into the re-emergence of Taliban or face a Civil War-like situation as of
early 1990s.

Pakistan's relations with Taliban are creating trouble for the Pakistani society itself,
particularly since the start of counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan by US forces. These
militant elements, if not defeated and eliminated, can be a constant threat to Pakistan's
sovereignty and peaceful identity. Pakistani society will further polarise between radicalists and
moderates due to the War on Terror.

The Talibanisation of Pakistan could also get further boost in the wake of American
withdrawal from Afghanistan without maintaining peace and a stable government.

The counter-insurgency to neutralise the Al-Qaeda and Taliban can take two or three
decades more at least.

After US withdrawal, the new established government will determine the fate of future
relationship with Pakistan and India. Both states are in favour of establishing the regime in
Afghanistan that favoured them against the other. This compulsion is convincing India to
support anti-Taiban and pro-Indian elements such as Karzai government while Pakistan is
supporting the pro-Pakistan elements by convincing the Karazai and Washington to give them
share in the government that can neutralise these extremists and radicalists elements.

The failure to bring peace in Afghanistan would be disastrous for the whole region.
American strategy and policy will be successful only if they concentrate on building the local
community rather than emphasising on withdrawal by ending the war without proper future


Opcit., Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, p. 605.

Opcit., Shanthie Mariet D'Souza, p. 259.
Opcit, Greg Mills and Ewen Mclay, p.610
Opcit.,Ahmad Majidyar.


It is very important to translate the causes, importance and prospects of negotiations with
Taliban to the general public in Pakistan and Afghanistan to avoid any misperception of losing
the War on Terror and re-emergence of Taliban in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.

The US exit strategy rests on political stability, institution building, training of Afghan
security forces and fostering regional cooperation particularly among Pakistan, India and

Taliban are willing to reconcile but their concern is about the assurance of Pakistan and
American treatment in case of reconciliation. Therefore, they put forward the names of Pakistani
political leaders such as Nawaz Shareef and Maulana Fazal ur Rehman as a Guarantors in case of

Problem solving dialogues, negotiations and intra-Afghan reconciliation, establishing the

trusted government are the main steps to maintain peace and order in Afghanistan.

America is also actively involved and promoting the dialogues with all real stake-holders
of Afghanistan for long lasting peace, stability and prosperity that will affect the Pakistan
positively in future.



India has had close historical and cultural connections with Afghanistan. Bilateral ties between
India and Afghanistan span over centuries, given Afghanistans close links to the South Asian
civilization historically. India has traditionally maintained strong cultural ties with Afghanistan,
resulting in stable relations between the two states. It signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship in
1951 to institutionalize its historical ties.78
After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, India accorded recognition to the government of
Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul. This support continued despite the fact that the Taliban
controlled 90 per cent of Afghan territory.
India, along with Russia and Iran, supported the Northern Alliance to check the Talibans
India has always had a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and has maintained its Consulates in
Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, except for the brief period between 1996 and
2001 when the Taliban ruled Kabul.
After the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, following the War on Terror, India reopened
its Consulates and has since been engaged in reconstruction activities.
India has tried to pursue a proactive Afghanistan policy and a broad-based interaction is taking
place between the two states.79This is also a time when Indian political, economic, and military
capabilities have grown tremendously and India has become increasingly ambitious in defining
its foreign-policy agenda.80
Rising powers seek to enhance their security by increasing their capabilities and their control
over the external environment.81
Smruti S. Pattanaik Indias Afghan Policy: Beyond Bilateralism, Strategic Analysis
Vol. 36, No. 4, JulyAugust 2012, 569583

See the statement made by the Indian Prime Minister at the end of the signing of the first-ever
Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan on October 4, 2011, available from

See Harsh V. Pant, Contemporary Debates in Indian Foreign and Security Policy: India
Negotiates Its Rise in the International System, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1962, p. 75.


South Asia is a difficult neighborhood and Indias strategic periphery continues to witness
turmoil and uncertainty.
Indias attempts to emerge as a global economic power are marred by the uncertainty in the
region which has even stalled its attempts in building interdependencies and enhancing
And Indias desire to emerge as a major global player will remain just a desire unless it engages
its immediate neighborhood more meaningfully and emerges as a net provider of regional peace
and stability.
Even as India continues to struggle with its foreign policy with respect to other neighboring
states, since 2001 Afghanistan has allowed New Delhi an opportunity to underscore its role as a
regional power. 82
Post-2014 has given rise to speculations on Afghanistan and there are four streams of

firstly those current events that may lead unto that date.83
Secondly that there is an unpredictibility factor that anything can happen;
thirdly that the Taliban could take over from the US-ISAF (International Security
Assistance Force) and,
fourthly that the Karzai administration will prolong its dependence on the US-ISAF.

Therefore the Worst Case and Best Case scenarios need to be looked into.

There are apprehensions that ANSF (Afghan National Security Force) fails.
Karzai displaced, insurgents take over and make Afghanistan safe for
international terror groups.
International terror groups from Afghanistan can enter and threaten Pakistan,

Harsh V Pant, Indias changing Afghan policy: Regional and Global implications, US Army
War college. Dec 2012

A series of events in recent monthsan American soldier killing Afghan civilians in March
2012, the Koran burnings, and the emergence in January 2012 of an Internet video showing three
Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fightershave inflamed Afghans to an unprecedented degree, forcing the United States to re-evaluate its entire strategy toward
Afghanistan. Ahmad Nadem and Ahmad Haroon, Sixteen Afghan civilians killed in rogue US
attack, Reuters, March 11, 2012.


Central Asian Republics and expand their influence right up to the Horn of
Africa etc and
Afghanistan may fell into a Civil War. 84


All concerned parties have national reconciliation and consensus on future of

The emergence of an Afghan leader to unify the nation and give a stable unity
ANSF giving full security to the vulnerable Afghans targeted by the insurgents.
International aid shifting focus from large development projects to agriculture, irrigation,
clean viable small scale industries, arbitration of land disputes; and
An Afghanistan at peace.


Indias position and the scope for cooperation can be determined only by its actions.
The repercussions of NATO withdrawal are bound to affect Indias stakes in Afghanistan.
India has been trying to enlarge its footprint in Afghanistan ever since the fall of Taliban regime
and recently agreed to widen its engagement in trade, investment, reconstruction and
development. India, with its last one decade of constructive engagement in Afghanistan, has
much at stake.
At the first meeting of Indo-Afghan Partnership Council in New Delhi held on 2 May, 2012,
India announced to host a conference on Afghanistan for regional investors. It has also agreed to
train Afghan Security Forces.
However, the entire Indian engagement and its strategic interests will hinge on how the
Afghanistan security scenario unfolds after the end of the NATO mission as insecurity and
political instability in Afghanistan can adversely affect Indias security scenario
Afghanistan is in urgent need of measures to boost its revenue generating capacity. India can
contribute in the field of revitalizing agriculture, building infrastructure (railroads, highways,
processing plants, etc.), which could spur long-term economic growth and create jobs, and
building of institutions that will stabilise the process of democratization.85

Arvind Gupta, Ashok Behuria, Vishal Chandra andSmruti Pattanaik Post-2014 Afghanistan
and India's Options, IDSA policy Brief, institute of defense studies and Analyses, New Delhi
2012, .


The economic engagement with Afghanistan has emerged as a strong driver of Indias policy
towards Afghanistan. The policy was formulated with the view that economic reconstruction
would generate political capital, which would re-establish Indias traditional ties with the people
of Afghanistan in general and Pashtuns in particular.
India also realized that in the long term, economic engagement has the potential to change the
regional security environment by creating stakeholders within Afghanistan that would make its
presence sustainable.86 Its reconstruction efforts include the building of roads, schools, bridges,
the Parliament house, electricity generation and the laying of transmission lines
India has also built a very strategic highway from Delaram [province of Farah] to Zaranj
[province of Nimruz] on the Afghan-Iran border. The Delaram-Zaranj highway gets linked to the
Iranian city of Zahedan and the Iranian sea port- Chabahar.
The linking of Delaram-Zaranj highway to the Iranian highway network leading to Chabahar
port on the Arabian Sea has reduced Afghanistans dependence on Karachi port by more than
Another road, built by an Indian company with aid from the Asian Development Bank (ADB),
connects Kandahar with Spin Boldak.
The total aid to Afghanistan for developmental activities at present stands at US $ 02 billion.
Indias short-term objectives are to stabilize Afghanistan and unshackle it from the geographical
constraints that have held the country hostage to outside influence and enable it to take its own
decisions, keeping the Afghan interest in mind.
Afghanistan is rich in terms of natural resources, i.e. iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical
industrial metals like lithium. Reserves of these natural resources are estimated to be worth US $
01 trillion. Afghanistan is also endowed with natural gas and oil. As most of the country is
unexplored due to war and conflict, prospects for additional natural resources reserves cannot be
The India-Afghanistan relationship must go beyond aid and build a comprehensive economic
Afghanistan figures predominantly in Indian foreign policy and New Delhi needs to look beyond
the post-2014 scenario.
India has pledged around US $ 02 billion development assistance to Afghanistan and it is
engaged in several areas of reconstruction and development. However, Afghan reconstruction is
Smruti S. Pattanaik, Indias Afghan Policy: Beyond Bilateralism, Strategic Analysis
Vol. 36, No. 4, JulyAugust 2012, 569583

Dinoj Kumar Upadhyay,Security Transition in Afghanistan: Implications for India, Indian

council of world Affairs june 2012


inexorably interlinked with security, and development and assistance cannot take place in an
insecure environment.88
Tensed India-Pakistan relationship can add to insecurity and risk the potential of regional trade.
Indias small-budget investments in Pashtun areas have been appreciated by the population in
areas infested by the militants which has even forced the Taliban to grudgingly acknowledge
Indias constructive role.
Thus, India does have the acceptability to play a key role in Afghanistan in the next few years.
The partnership agreement between the two countries allows India to strengthen linkages in the
security sector too.
The common Afghan, irrespective of her/his ethnicity, is keen that India continues to play a
bigger role in stabilizing Afghanistan.89

India-Afghanistan relations must not be burdened and blurred by Indo-Pak relations;

India-Afghanistan relations must be based on Indias permanent bilateral interest and
India continues to assist to build a strong, friendly and confidant Afghanistan to prevent it
being a springboard for attacks on India;
2014 could result in a new leadership - it could be Pashto or non-Pashto or a coalition
but India must continue to assist;
India must not oppose the inclusion of the present day insurgents, joining the government
in Kabul as they represent another facet of Afghan polity.
India should also be part of multilateral efforts, particularly the SCO, CSTO, NATO etc.
Since China is looking towards increasing its profile in Afghanistan, India should have a
dialogue with China (and even with Iran and Russia) on the nature and scope of the
future engagement with Afghanistan.90
There is a need of Indian developmental interventions in Afghanistan,.
India should offer more number of scholarships to Afghan students,
relax visa procedures for Afghan businessmen, students and patients seeking medical
attention in India and
encourage the private sector to invest in areas related to education, IT, healthcare
systems, aviation, mining, media and communication.

Dinoj Kumar Upadhyay,Security Transition in Afghanistan: Implications for India, Indian

council of world Affairs june 2012
Arvind Gupta, Ashok Behuria, Vishal Chandra andSmruti Pattanaik Post-2014 Afghanistan
and India's Options, IDSA policy Brief, institute of defense studies and Analyses, New Delhi


Afghanistan is vital for the revival of the Silk Route that can be a gateway for India to Central
Asia for trade and energy resources. So Indian policy in Afghanistan should be proactive.
In return, transit routes will generate substantial revenue for Afghanistan. For example, TAPI
(Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) pipeline project is estimated to add around US $
5 million annually in transit fee to the Afghan coffers. 735 kilometers of this gas pipeline will
pass through Afghanistan and the entire project could be jeopardized, if the security scenario in
Afghanistan does not improve.



Ahmed Shah Abdali (Durranis) consolidated the current Afghan territory in the 18th Century
after defeating Mongols and Persians into a large but, unstable Afghan Empire.
The rugged Afghan mountains and narrow valleys have the settlers from all around. They also
include; Persians under Darius the Great (522-486 BCE) and Greeks, under Alexander the Great
(356-323 BCE).91 The country has been under Buddhist civilization (Bamiyan area in
particular), beginning with first century CE. Besides, it has the influence of Arabs, Turks, and
Historian Arnold Toynbee has described Afghanistan as the roundabout of the ancient world.93
Indeed, this piece of land has been a junction of the land routes from China and India to the West
and a meeting place of numerous and dynamic nations and cultures.
Afghanistan indeed is a bridge between the present-day South Asia, Central Asia, West and East
Asia. Over the years, the migrants who passed through this region left behind a mosaic of ethnic
and linguistic groups.94 Thus, Afghan land is truly a multi-cultural land.
It was, in fact, the geopolitical positioning of Afghanistan, as the crossroads to various directions,
which seduced global occupying powers from Alexander to former Soviet Union, and presently
the Trans-Atlantic Alliance (United States and Europe). After twelve years of unsuccessful
military campaigning, United States and NATO has finally reached to the conclusion that, it is
not possible to subdue the Afghan masses, though; it was perhaps easy to over throw the Taliban
Government. Thus, U.S and NATO has decided to pull out by 2014, anyhow through a bargain if
not through an honourable exit.
The history of Sino-Afghan relationship can be traced back to 7 th Century, once Chinese Monks
used to travel to Afghanistan through Silk Road to Buddha statues in Bamyian province of
Afghanistan.95 Thus, the Buddha statues of Bamyian and old Buddhism in Afghanistan have
something to do with ancient China, rather India.

A brief history of Afghanistan, 0 1, Issue 417. The New International Magazine. Accessed at;



Alfred Aghajanian (Compiler), Peter R. Blood (Editor), Afghanistan: Past and Present /Comprised of Afghanistan, A Country Study
and Country Profile: Afghanistan, IndoEuropean Publishing, Los Angles, 2007. P. 3.

Muhammad Saleem Mazhar, Samee Ozair Khan and Naheed S. Goraya, Post 2014-Afghanistan
South Asian Studies; A Research Journal of South Asian Studies; Vol. 28, No. 1, January June 2013, pp.67-84.


During recent digging of Aynak copper mines, there have been found some archaeological sites,
related to Buddhism, Afghanistans cultural heritage of Chinese interests too.
Indeed, as revealed by archaeologists and historians of both Afghan origin and global, there
have been cross-border cultural links interspersed throughout this region and the Buddhas at
Aynak have some cultural significance to China. These sites are part of China's history, too.
According to China, this is Chinas neighborhood, and they are committed to making sure it
works out well.96
Through the extensive use of the Silk Road, there used to be trade relationship between Asia and
Europe. While China used to be the hub of Asian trade, Afghanistan has been the key transit
trade between the two continents; Asia and Europe.
The cordial Sino-Afghan relationship has been through ages. After the re-positioning of global
power centres, sequel to World War-II, Modern China - Peoples Republic of China and
Afghanistan established their bilateral relationship in 1950s. The diplomatic relationship,
however, was established between the two neighbours in 1957 and Chinese Prime Minister, Zhu
Enlai visited Afghanistan the same year.
The Sino-Afghan Treaty of Friendship and Non-Aggression was signed in August-1960. 97
Thereafter, the Peking Treaty of formal demarcation of boundary between China and Afghanistan
was signed in 1963, thus settling the 76 Kilometres long border issues forever.98
Indeed, there has never been any dispute between both countries since the beginning of bilateral
relationship in 1950s, something that could perhaps be unprecedented in the realm of
international relations.
In the recent history, Sino-Afghan relations transformed after Taliban were evicted by US led
coalition in 2001. Being a signatory of 'Good Neighbour' Declaration-2002, China has pledged to
respect Afghanistan's independence and territorial integrity.


China Briefing, Afghanistan Now Part of Chinas Central Asian Push, China Briefing, Magazine and daily News Service,
September 23, 2008. Accessed at;


Raffaello Pantucci, China Digs into Afghanistan, The, national Interest, May 24, 2012. Accessed at;




Sefat Rahimi, The Emerging Sino-Afghan political and economic relations, Political, Economic and Cultural, October 1,
2008. Accessed at;


Being the major Asian economic power, Chinas relationship with Afghanistan is very significant
and relevant among all other neighbours; both during the current transition period as well as in
the post 2014 environment.
China, as an economic power and Afghan neighbour can play a pivotal role to help Afghanistan
overcome the legacy of decades of devastating war.
On its part, Afghanistan can offer China the easiest transportation route for exploitation of energy
and mineral resources within Afghanistan and in its neighbouring region of Central Asia and
As a positive sign, today thousands of Afghan citizens seek Chinese visas to travel to China for
finding the good opportunities of business and trade there. Besides, there are hundreds of
Chinese citizens living and working in Afghanistan.
The significance of Sino-Afghan relationship is that China never had any political or ideological
conflicts with Afghanistan, providing it with a special opportunity, unavailable to those countries
which are apparently struggling to stabilize and democratize Afghanistan for their vested
Indeed, China is distinguished among all the actors in Afghanistan because it has not taken sides
in the Afghan conflict. All sides, both internal and external are happy to see China's expanding
and stabilizing role. It has balanced relationship with all Afghan ethnic groups instead of
favouring any particular class. In the wordings of Andrew Small, a US based Chinese expert,
China is the only actor which can foot the level of investment needed in Afghanistan to make
it succeed and stick it out.99
China, as an economic power and Afghan neighbour can play a pivotal role to help Afghanistan
overcome the legacy of decades of devastating war. The geo-economic significance of
Afghanistan as well as Chinese huge investments in Afghanistan should be an urge for both
countries to further expand relations and economic cooperation.
From 2002 onwards, several Chinese construction companies are engaged in road construction,
building schools, hospitals, and several irrigation projects.
As Afghanistan has enormous energy and mineral resources, especially copper, it seems that
China is likely to be one of the main players in Afghanistans future and is also likely to be the
largest investor in Afghanistan.
The significance of Sino-Afghan relationship is that China does not have any political or
ideological interests in Afghanistan, making it safer for them to surpass their competitors and
allowing them to take advantage of those countries that are apparently struggling to stabilize and
democratize Afghanistan.


Wadsam, China has its eyes on Afghanistans minerals, Wadsam, Afghan Business News Portal, January 27, 2013, accessed at;


"They are rare among the actors in Afghanistan in that they are not seen as having been too close
to any side of the conflict. All sides are happy to see China's expanded role." 100 The payoff for
China could be enormous, despite having provided little aid and no blood over the last decade.
In October 2009, Sultan Ahmad Baheen, Afghanistan's ambassador to China said: We believe
that Afghanistan should be the ground for cooperation of civilizations, not the competition
between the countries. I think there is room for everyone in Afghanistan.101
In fact, the amount of investment needed in Afghanistan during another 2-3 decades can only be
done by China.102 The logic is obvious; China has the requisite finances for the investment and it
will be the natural beneficiary of a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Sino-Afghan political relationship, economic cooperation and trade relations date back to the era
of Silk Road. However, formalization of this relationship was done through the Treaty of
Economic and Technical Cooperation in 1964.
In the recent years, trade between the two countries has steadily increased and China has
emerged as one of the main exporters to Afghanistan in the past decade. The Sino-Afghan trade
has already reached over US $ 700 million.103
There are many Chinese companies working in diverse areas of reconstruction either being
contracted by the Government of Afghanistan or the donors.
Afghanistan has been endowed with rich natural resources including extensive deposits of
copper, iron, coal, marble, precious metals, lithium, gemstones and above all hydrocarbons, some
of which have been discovered and most remains un-explored, owing to ongoing conflict.
According to Afghan and American Geological Surveys, conducted between 2007-2009, there
have been found deposits of copper, mercury, rare-earth elements, sulfur, chromites, asbestos,
potash, graphite, and sand and gravel in over 20 mineralized areas. The survey reveals that The
most significant known metal deposits are of copper and iron. The total copper resource in
Afghanistan is nearly 60 million metric tons of which the sediment-hosted copper deposits at
Aynak are estimated to contain nearly 30 million metric tons. Resources in undiscovered

Denis D. Gray, Eyeing rich bounty, China in line for Afghan role Saturday, Salon, Jan 26, 2013. Accessed at;

Anthony Kuhn, China Becomes A Player In Afghanistan's









Zhao Huasheng, China and Afghanistan Chinas interests, stances, and perspectives, Centre for Strategic and International
Studies, Washington, March 2012.


porphyry copper and skarn deposits are estimated to be about 28.5 million metric tons, with
additional molybdenum, gold, and silver resources. Sedimentary iron deposits are abundant and
the Haji Gak and surrounding deposits are estimated to contain about 2,260 million metric tons
of iron ore with grades higher than 62 weight percent iron. Additional resources in similar
deposits are likely.104
During first decade of 21st Century, trade between China and Afghanistan has steadily increased
and China has emerged to be one of the main exporters to Afghanistan. China is making
substantive contributions in terms of developing the natural resources and infrastructure of
In 2007, Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper Corporation (JCCL)
agreed to make the single largest foreign investment in Afghanistan to date US $3.5 billion 105
- when they won a tender to develop what geologists believe is the worlds second largest
undeveloped copper deposit at Aynak in Logar Province, 35 kilometers southeast of Kabul.
These copper deposits are estimated to be worth between US $1-3 trillion.106
In 2011, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and its Afghan partner, Watan Oil &
Gas, secured the rights to three oil blocks in the provinces of Sari-i-Pul and Faryab in
northwestern Afghanistan.
Indeed, China became the first foreign country in decades to sign an oil exploration deal in
Afghanistan when it inked a US $7 billion pact. 107 China National Petroleum Corporation
(CNPC) and its Afghan partner are exploring crude oil from Amu Darya River Basin oil deposits
in northern Afghan region. Oil reserves of Amu Darya are expected to be more than 87 million
barrels of crude oil.108 Besides, northern Afghanistan region is believed to contain more than 1.6
billion barrels of crude oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 500 million barrels of natural
liquids gas.109
It is said about Chinese that, essentially, what they are doing is providing economic assistance in
the form of part and parcel of the bid and this is where it becomes uncompetitive for anyone else
to bid against Chinese companies. Besides, China has offered to build a power plant and a
railroad to service the mine, which could nearly triple the investment and will be beneficial for
population with civic facilities to locals. This is very interesting and to the credit of China that,
while U.S. troops risk their lives in Afghanistan, it is Chinese companies that reap the economic

Erica S. Downs, China Buys into Afghanistan, February 21, 2013. This paper first appeared in the SAIS Review, Volume XXXII,
No. 2 (Summer-Fall 2012), pages 65-84. Accessed at;


Peters, stephen g.1, ludington, stephen d.2, orris, greta j.3, sutphin, david m.4, and bliss, james d.3, (1) minerals program, united
states geological survey, u.s. Geological survey, 12201 sunrise valley drive, ms954, reston, va 20192,, (2) menlo
park, ca 94025, (3) tucson, az 85719, (4) reston, va 20192. Accessed at;

Erica S. Downs, China Buys into Afghanistan, February 21, 2013. This paper first appeared in the SAIS Review, Volume XXXII,
No. 2 (Summer-Fall 2012), pages 65-84. Accessed at;


benefits. However, "Essentially what they're doing is they're providing aid in the form of part
and parcel of the bid," he said. And this is where it becomes uncompetitive for anyone else to bid
against them."110
Afghanistan desires China to construct a direct road link to open the narrow Afghan-China
border through Wakhan Corridor across the remote 47-mile border between the two countries.
Even US once desired opening of the Wakhan Corridor as an alternate logistics route for troops
and supplies moving into Afghanistan. Indeed, what China is looking at, through land route via
Wakhan corridor, Afghanistan will be linked to Central Asia and then to Europe and warm waters
of Gulf Indeed, a move towards Chinas New Eurasian Land Bridge.
According to Afghan Ambassador to China, Afghan Government has asked Beijing to open the
narrow Afghan-China border. If we have this link, for sure the Afghan people benefit from this
way. So this is why we propose to the Chinese to build a road, even a railroad from this Wakhan
Corridor to Afghanistan.111
China-Afghan Border

Credit: Alyson Hurt / NPR

The West has spoken a great deal of a regional strategy as the key to Afghanistan's future.
Nevertheless, China is the one that is actually implementing such an approach, suggesting that in
the future Beijing will have much more of an impact on the region than Washington. The deal is
a way of getting a foot inside the door. China is looking towards a much bigger scale of
investment. This could involve projects in infrastructure, including high-speed rail in times to

Kobo-Daishi, Can Envision A Time When China & Afghanistan Share An Open Border, Our World Forum II at Asiawind,
September 21, 2009.

Anthony Kuhn, China Becomes A Player In Afghanistan's Future, NPR, August 22, 2009.!OpenDocument.



In the discussion of a New Silk Road by former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, heartens
back to historic East-West links and suggests a long-term investment in the region, it is Chinas
new Eurasian land bridge that is actually being built. Linking Afghanistan to Central Asiaby
developing direct land links between China, Europe and warm waters in the Gulf using a lattice
work of rail and road linksshows China is a serious, capable and long-term player in the
In June 2012, China and Afghanistan decided to form a framework of strategic cooperation
between the two countries. Both sides agreed to bring about the strategic cooperation based on
the UN Charter and historic friendship. The strategic cooperation would protect national interests
of both the countries, strengthen efforts for maintaining historic friendship between the two sides
and develop support in political, economic, cultural and security sectors. Both countries decided
to support the mutual issues of national integrity, unity and protection of land and not to let their
soil to be used against the other side.
During the visit of President Karzai to Beijing, China and Afghanistan agreed to step up
cooperation in security and the fight against terrorism as well as increase intelligence sharing.
China is trying to ensure that a Muslim separatist group: East Turkestan Islamic Movement
(ETIM) in a western Chinese Xinjiang region does not benefit from the Taliban when Western
forces leave Afghanistan.
Despite being competitors of United States in global politics, China would not play any
significant security role inside Afghanistan, a decision consistent with its non-interference
policies abroad.
Despite Chinese refusal to play a direct security role in Afghanistan, it has offered to train a
small number of Afghan soldiers, particularly in anti-terrorism techniques.
The strategy of China has been that it supports the international community in their efforts in
Afghanistan, but stays away from direct military involvement.113
Chinas main concern is about how post-2014 Afghanistan will affect Chinas internal security.
Chinas first concern is national security and to make sure the Uighurs dont get more


JANE PERLEZ, China Shows Interest in Afghan Security, Fearing Taliban Would Help Separatists, The New York Times, June 8,
2012. Accessed at;



Despite an uncertain security situation in Afghanistan, China is making heavy investment there
that is indicator of its optimism and desire for a stable Afghanistan based on mutual respect and
As agreed in 2012, during the visit of China's domestic security chief, Mr Zhou Yongkang - the
most senior Chinese official to visit Afghanistan in last 50 years, China will help train the Afghan
police force. Under the new agreements, around 300 Afghan Police Officers will be sent to China
for training over the next four years.115
In June 2012, China clearly expressed its desire to play a bigger role for the stabilization of
Afghanistan along side Russia.
President Hu said, We will continue to manage regional affairs by ourselves, guarding against
shocks from turbulence outside the region, and will play a bigger role in Afghanistans peaceful
reconstruction.116 Through economic engagement, China is looking for a role to improve and
strengthen the communication, coordination and cooperation with Afghanistan. In the process of
this engagement, China would like to deal with major regional and international issues through
new cooperation models and proposed ways to identify non-resource sectors as a new priority
for economic cooperation.117
According to Mr Zhang Deguang, Chairman of China Foundation of International Studies
(CFIS), SCO can and will play a bigger role in Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal.118
Apart from China, Russia desires peace, progress and stability in Afghanistan. This is extremely
essential for Russia, as it desires that its Islamic republics of Chechnya and Dagestan in
particular to remain stable and peaceful.
Both Russia and China would like SCO to play a part in the stabilization of Afghanistan. This,
indeed, is the compulsion of the region as most of the SCO countries are geographically
contiguous with Afghanistan, thus vulnerable to spill over effects of terrorism and Afghanoriginated drug trafficking. Owing to these facts, they have an interest to stabilize this country.
They developed a comprehensive strategic approach to deal with these issues. SCO should also
become a partner in the stabilization of Afghanistan. As presumed by scholars, the biggest test of
the SCO would be its developmental role in Afghanistan in post 2014. China would provide US
$10 billion for undertaking projects in the SCO countries.
Afghanistan has been given Observer Status of SCO. China is looking for the reconstruction of
Afghanistan, following the pull out of the NATO and US forces. Afghanistan will be expanding



Gleb Bryanski and Chris Buckley, Chinas Hu sees role for regional bloc in Afghanistan, Reuter, June 06, 2012. Accessed at;



and strengthening relations with China,119 Chinese President Mr Hu assured President Karzai for
a continued support. He said that, China will continue actively participating in international and
regional cooperation concerning Afghanistan.120
Mr. Yang Jiechi, the former Chinese Foreign Minister said during the meeting that, member
states should boost security cooperation to safeguard regional stability, including stepping up
the fight against terrorism, autonomy and extremism, optimizing the model for cooperation in
ensuring security for major international events, and carrying on joint anti-terrorism
exercises.121 Yang also called for better links among the SCO member states, boosting
infrastructural construction, further facilitating trade and investment and expanding cooperation
in sectors such as finance, transport, energy, telecommunications and agriculture amid the
economic downturn.
In a surprise move forward, India also backed the Chinese call for the SCOs role in Afghanistan,
during 12th Summit of SCO. Then Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr S.M Krishna, heading
Indian delegation, categorically said that, SCO is a promising and alternative regional platform
for the discussion on the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan. 122 For the stabilization of
the region, Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, emphasized for a political and economic
cooperation and stepping up anti-terrorism efforts among the SCO countries.
Being a rising power and major Afghan neighbour, China has a lot of stakes in Afghanistan,
including security concerns to its own western autonomous region; Xinjiang. Therefore,
restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of China, besides this being an
essential for the Afghan masses. Apart from its own interest for stabilization and reconstruction
of Afghanistan, there is acceptability for the China among Afghan masses and leadership alike.
As stated by Davood Moradiyan, a scholar of Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, Kabul, The
Chinese are ambiguous. They dont want the Taliban to return to power and are concerned about
a vacuum after 2014 that the Taliban could fill, but they also dont like having U.S. troops in
their neighbourhood,123 Surely, Chinese are unlikely to get into Afghanistan blindly upon pullout of NATO and US troops. This rising giant is going to have a deliberated and focused
approach for its future engagement in Afghanistan.
For its economic needs, regional cooperation and acceptability, China needs Afghanistan and
Afghanistan too needs China. Indeed, If you are able to see a more or less stable situation in



Yu Bin Wittenberg University, China-Russia Relations, Comparative Connections: A Triannual E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral
















Afghanistan, if it becomes another relatively normal Central Asian state, China will be the
natural beneficiary.124
According to Andrew Small, a China expert at The German Marshall Fund of the United States,
an American research institute. If you look across Central Asia that is what has already
happened. China is the only actor who can foot the level of investment needed in Afghanistan
to make it succeed and stick it out.125
Despite, there are still analysts who put question mark on the future Chinese role in Afghanistan,
and say, Its unquestionable that China bears the responsibility to participate in the political and
economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. A stable Afghanistan is of vital importance to (China).
China cant afford to stand aside following the U.S. troop withdrawal and in the process of
political transition.126
Nevertheless, the strategic partnership Agreement signed between China and Afghanistan in
2012, signifies Chinese interests in Post-2014 Afghanistan.
Keeping in view the fact how Chinas domestic security will have an effect on it in post-2014. It
fears that if Taliban come to power, it will have a great impact on the separatist group, the East
Turkestan Islamic Movement.127While maintaining its policy of non-interference, China has
already invested in Afghanistan. China has offered Afghanistan for the training of a small
number of its soldiers, mainly in anti-terrorism techniques.
As far as Chinese policies towards Afghanistan are concerned, it goes beyond saying that China
is a major stakeholder in the stability of Afghanistan. The Central Asian gas pipeline is only the
most vibrant illustration of China's rising stakes (and its new vulnerabilities) in that county.
Meanwhile, there are also signs that China is re-evaluating and reconsidering its responsibility as
far as Central Asia is concerned, against the conditions of the renewed thrust by Moscow on
Eurasian integration (with apathetic fallouts until now) and the departure of Western forces from
Afghanistan and the ebb of US concern in the region that may proceed.
Afghanistan pledges to be a stage where China can work with the US on regional security
issues. Though having conflicts over few issues with US, China carries the geopolitical influence
that can build all the disparities to the victory of the US regional policy.




China could prove ultimate winner in Afghanistan, January 27, 2013.




Scott Greene, China, Afghanistan Deepen Ties, China Digital Times, June 11, 2012. Accessed at;


In the post-2014, China will stride cautiously in assuming any major responsibility in order to
bring harmony in Afghanistan, yet it intends to keep at bay from the wreckage of the war,
security vacuity and show a low-esteem to a long-term US troop presence in Afghanistan which
are too near to its borders with the Central Asian region.
The point is, while China would give humbug to envisage a key role for the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO) in stabilizing post-2014 Afghanistan, its actual enunciation
remains to be on the bilateral proposals.
From the US perspective, this has repercussions for the Great Power enmity in Central Asia.
China is ever more restructuring Central Asia to turn into its backyard rather than Russia's and
this will carry some regional responsibilities that China has not yet figured out how to address
and for that very reason; China will have to craft an appropriate strategy for Central Asia.
In the post-2014 state of affairs, the role of regional powers will be enlarged. Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO) has recognized Afghanistan as its Observer Member which has
proved itself tangential as yet, now it is preparing itself to presuppose a larger task in
As worldwide foreign interest has been at high, following the exit of foreign troops from
Afghanistan, China has signed a series of agreements with Afghanistan and expects to maintain
its policy of resource mobilization through investment in mining and communications and
guarantees to facilitate, instruct, support and equip Afghan police." However, the question of
security remains the overriding issue. The SCO countries do not have the capital in order to use
up in Afghanistan, nevertheless, they can present support for capacity-building.
There exists likelihood that Afghanistan will develop good relations with Central Asia in the
post-2014 phase as there is least probability that Afghanistan might come out as a Transit
Nucleus between the Indian Sub-Continent and Central Asia. Apart from TurkmenistanAfghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, it can produce considerable profits from
overland trade.
As China is mounting its concern in edifying communication system in the region in broadspectrum and specifically in Afghanistan, in addition to Pakistans confrontation to allow India
transit through its land, Afghanistan may perhaps turn out to be more assimilated with Central
Asia than South Asia.
The geo-economic significance of Afghanistan as well as Chinese huge investments in that
country indicates a desire by both countries to enhance their bilateral relationship and economic


Sequel to pull out of United States and NATO from Afghanistan, China is all set to play a
positive and constructive role in that country. This would only be possible through a long-term
and peaceful presence of China in Afghanistan.
The areas China is looking for the cooperation are; economic development of Afghanistan,
exploration and exploitation of Afghan minerals resources, mining, energy and transport projects.
All this would be advantageous for the people of Afghanistan besides China itself. This is how,
Afghans would return to normal life after 3 decades of wars and conflicts.
Regional co-operation is very much essential as far as Afghan problem is concerned so that
without touching its territorial veracity, Afghanistan could maintain its affable relations with the
rest of the world.
The regional apprehensions of its neighbors like Pakistan, Iran and China need to be re-dressed
on priority. For this very purpose, SCO must develop into a platform, as it incorporates all the
stakeholders of the Afghanistan quandary. No country should be allowed to interfere in
Afghanistan in order to chase its own vested interests. The incorporated policies must be reevaluated for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A low-key presence on the ground, Chinese firms and diplomats are thinking and acting in terms
that have a horizon beyond 2014. This does not mean that Beijing is angling to take over
Afghanistan, however, in contrast to the Wests increasingly uneasiness in the last decade, it is
setting itself up to guarantee a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan and also a peaceful,
secure and stable South Asia in this Asian century.


Professor IJAZ KHAN

Iran is an important neighbor of Afghanistan and very influential and pro-active player on the
geo-strategic scene of larger Middle East. Its moves, policies and probable policies cannot be
ignored by those having interest in the affairs of the region.
US planned drawdown from Afghanistan has implications for Iran and Irans perception of
developments in Afghanistan and its policies to influence them has implications for the US plans
and the policies of other neighbors of Afghanistan.
This paper looks at Afghanistan interests, policies and goals in Afghanistan in the run up to 2014
drawdown of International Forces. It studies the interplay of these with those of Afghanistans
neighbors and United States. The study tries to locate Iran-Afghan policy within the context of
its regional role and attempts to understand its significance in the ongoing regional power play.
To understand Iran, we first try to explain the meaning of US announced schedule for the
drawdown, followed by Irans perceptions, policies and apprehensions, then the policies of India,
Pakistan, China and Russia are noted. The study then concludes with the mutual interplay of
policies and roles of all these actors and Irans place within it.
President Obama announced Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen
and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces
take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops
will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. Beyond 2014, Americas
commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our
commitment will change. We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that
focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again
slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al-Qaeda
and their affiliates.128
So while US plans to drawdown its military presence, ending its active combat engagement, does
not plan to withdraw and disengage altogether.
While focus will shift to developmental and political, support for military action will also be
there, where and when required. US has not announced end to its commitment to a non-Taliban
Afghanistan, neither has it announced end of the War against Terrorism. It is important to point
out here that Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) remains in effect, which means
the US President can order use of US combat troops any time, if needed.

President Barack Obamas State of the Union Address 12 Feb 2013. Full Text available at accessed on 24 March 2013



Iran wants US take out all of its troops from Afghanistan, not just reduce its size; a stable nonTaliban Central government there; has concerns about drugs smuggling; and also wants enough
influence in the post US-NATO Afghanistan to build and maintain relations and influence in
Central Asian States and its ambitions of a regional major power.
Pakistan wants US to ensure a solution of Afghanistan conflict before leaving that puts Afghans
friendly to it in a dominant position; wants no or minimum Indian presence or influence; wants
to reach out to Central Asian States for economic purposes and energy needs and also wants
Pakistan to be the main access to Afghanistan and further.
India wants US to ensure absence of all religious extremists, Al-Qaeda or Taliban from any
probable Afghan solution; wants to deny Pakistans dominant position in Afghan affairs; has
economic and energy interests in Central Asia and not least is driven by her status as a regional
Peoples Republic of China wants elimination of the religious extremist threat from Afghanistan
and has some commercial interests in Afghanistan.
Russia wants to ensure that Taliban in whatever form or name does not return to power in
Afghanistan as it fears their return will encourage fundamentalist-driven terrorism in Central
Asia and its Caucasian region.
U.S wants to complete its scheduled draw down on a successful note. It wants to stay engaged
with Afghanistan and the region. It wants at a minimum, a resolution of the conflict in
Afghanistan that will ensure Afghanistan does not revert back to a safe haven for international
terrorists and the pre-2011 situation. It is also mindful of the impact of extremist reversion in
Afghanistan on the region including Pakistan and by extension India.
Irans Policy towards Afghanistan is influenced by the developments in its relations with U.S and
influences US policies as well as that of regional actors, especially Pakistan and India.
Iran and U.S, otherwise on a war path, share an interest in stable non-Taliban, non-Al-Qaida
Afghanistan but contradict each other on continued US presence and each others influence.
Iran is making moves both inside Afghanistan and in the region to further its policy ends. Inside
Afghanistan, it is maintaining close contact and good supportive relations with Karzai
government. Iran is using its location, energy resources, language and religion to further its
interests in Afghanistan in relations with other states of the region to influence their policies and
the developments inside Afghanistan. Location is used both to reach out inside Afghanistan and
influence both Afghanistan and others.


By providing access to India to Central Asia and Afghanistan, Iran has decreased both Afghan
and Indian reliance on Pakistan for the purpose, thus gaining influence both with India and
Iran and Pakistan has also signed an agreement to provide the energy starved Pakistan with gas
and has already constructed its part of pipeline for the purpose and will be partly financing it
inside Pakistan. Though India has backed out of this project [IPI], of which it was originally a
part but offer of its extension is still there.
Iran has also used its material resources to directly establish relations with different forces inside
Afghanistan, across a wide political spectrum From Karzai to Northern Alliance and even has
some limited connections with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Iran provides cash to President Karzais Office and is also funding a number of humanitarian and
developmental projects. Religion i.e. Shia sect of Islam, gives it connection and influence over
Hazaras of Afghanistan. However, one should not exaggerate the influence of Shia sect on Iran
Policy, both as a tool and determinant. Being Shia, has a limiting effect on Irans capability to
reach out to the largely Sunni Afghanistan. Language gives it access to most of Afghanistan.
Persian or Dari (Afghan version of Persian), is though first language of a minority, is understood
and spoken by a much larger population, including Pashtuns, especially the elite classes and
residents of capital Kabul.129
India is using soft power to influence developments in Afghanistan. It has funded and
implemented a number of infrastructure and other developmental projects. India has also signed
a Strategic Agreement with Afghanistan, committing India to Peace and Development in
Afghanistan on long-term basis. India has agreed to provide training to Afghan National Police
as well as Afghan National Army. India, however, seems to be reluctant to commit combat
troops, though some limited presence in the shape of providing security to Indian projects inside
Afghanistan is there.
Due to its competitive relations with Pakistan, India considers Iran as the best alternate access
point to Afghanistan. India has constructed a road linking Port Chahbahar of Iran and from it to
Afghanistan thus gaining access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. India is planning a railway
line from Chahbahar to Bamyan in Afghanistan. This move will in addition to providing India
access, weaken landlocked Afghanistans dependence on Pakistan as an outlet.130
Pakistan, to get a friendly government in Afghanistan, which denies much space to India there, is
pursuing a policy of vague alliance in the War against Terrorism in Afghanistan as well as on its
own soil. Pakistan relations with both US and Taliban can be presented as that of ally and
protagonist at the same time. It is trying to influence US to go for a resolution of conflict in

Alireza Nader, Joya Laha, Irans Balancing Act in Afghanistan, Occasional Paper, RAND Corporation,
Washington, 2011
Zachary Keck, Indias Afghan Power Play, via Iran, The Diplomat, April 4, 2013. accessed on April 5 2013.
Also read Jayanth Jacob, Saubhadra Chatterji, India's Track 3: Afghan-Iran rail link , Hindustan Times, New Delhi,
November 01, 2011. accessed on 15 March 2013.


Afghanistan ensuring its interests. Pakistan sees its interests in Afghanistan best served by a
(Talibanized) Pashtun dominant arrangement. It is using its location as a route for US-NATO to
and from Afghanistan to exert pressure for its desired outcome.
Pakistan while providing the use of its territory against Taliban and Al-Qaeda and condemning
Terrorism has never condemned Taliban in Afghanistan as Terrorists. Pakistan has acted against
Al-Qaeda hiding in Pakistan, making some very important arrests and has also moved its military
against Taliban, (though accused of being reluctant and selective in its action) on its territory
adjacent to Afghanistan. However, these actions have aroused both approval and suspicion. The
actions have been considered by many in Washington as not enough. Others have been critical of
Pakistans selective action, while acting against only those who attack inside Pakistan but having
concluded deals with those who only focus inside Afghanistan. Pakistan denies any such
Pakistan has tried to assure China about its concerns of Taliban links with Chinese Islamists,
through different means. The handing over of operation of strategically located Gwadar Port 131
to China recently132 can be interpreted as one such act of reassurance.
While differing and competing with Iran inside Afghanistan, Pakistan has kept its relations with
it from boiling up. The recent signing of agreement for Iranian Gas in the face of US sanctions,
besides meeting its energy needs, can also be interpreted as an attempt to wean away Iran from
lining up with India and also to build its bargaining position with USA.
Pakistan wants to ensure that road to peace in Afghanistan must not bypass it. While bargaining
with USA, which at times gets near breakdown, Pakistan wants to stay engaged with USA and
use that engagement to its advantage.
China is investing heavily in Afghanistan, wooing Iran but is avoiding embroilment in regional
or intra-Afghan conflict and competitions as well as avoids a public position on US plans of
engagement with post-2014 Afghanistan.
China is suspicious of Taliban return to Afghanistan. On balance, China looks approvingly at
US-NATO role against extremists in Afghanistan. It has shown concern over ties of Muslim
separatists in Sinkiang with Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. China pursues its close ties
with Pakistan to address this threat via Pakistans influence with Taliban along with making
moves towards India and Russia, initiating a process of trilateral consultations.133
Chinese have committed support and increased engagement to a stable Afghanistan. President
Hu declaring Chinese commitment: We will continue to manage regional affairs by ourselves,
guarding against shocks from turbulence outside the region, and will play a bigger role in
Afghanistans peaceful reconstruction. He added Well strengthen communication,

Hasan Yaser Malik, Strategic Importance of Gwadar Port, Journal of Political Studies, Lahore, Vol. 19, Issue 2, 2012, 57:69.
Syed Irfan Raza, China given contract to operate Gwadar port, Daily Dawn, Karachi, 19th February, 2013
Trilateral helps India air opinion about Afghanistans future, Daily Times of India, Delhi, March 04 2013 accessed on April 1 2013


coordination and cooperation in dealing with major international and regional issues. 134 He thus
re-affirmed Chinese commitment and interests in Afghanistan and support for a regional
Both China and Russia are using the forum of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to play
a role in Afghanistan. They have been holding meetings with Pakistani officials on the prospects
of Post-2014 Afghanistan, in addition to their consultations with India.
Russia considers the probability of Taliban return as a serious threat and is considering a limited
military return to Afghanistan in the shape of military training personnel and for repair of some
Soviet era weapons.135 It is also a part of the above mentioned trilateral consultations. Russia has
made some limited advances and contacts with Pakistan. A high point in this regard would have
been the planned visit of President Putin to Islamabad, however, that was cancelled at the last
United States has to interact with all these regional states in addition to the situation inside
Afghanistan for a successful drawdown and desired post-2014 Afghanistan.
United States have at times quite tense relations and serious disagreements with the role and
position of Pakistan, which is its declared Non NATO Ally. Despite many differences, United
States wants Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan, due to the route that it provides to US-NATO
in and out of Afghanistan; Pakistans influence with Afghan Taliban and need for Pakistan to act
decisively against the use of Pakistani territory by Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
With Iran, a country with which it is on war path on other issues, it finds a lot of common ground
and overlapping of interests and policy in Afghanistan.
USA finds Chinese engagement inside Afghanistan as a welcome move.
USA will not be averse to increased Russian engagement with Afghanistan.
Washington finds Indian role in Afghanistan as positive, though India-Pakistan Conflict poses a
diplomatic challenge.
Iran remains a very central and influential player of the regional power game. It is part of,
influenced by and influences all the various regional alignments and policies. As such, it has a
vital role in any peace process to be successful in Afghanistan.
Recognition of that role is in the best interest of all those who want to have peace in the region
and eliminate the use of any part of the region, especially Afghanistan as a safe haven for global

Shuja Nawaz and Abigail Friedman, Exiting Afghanistan: A regional approach, 06/18/12 accessed 25
March 2013
Russia to return to Afghanistan after US occupation, Pravda English, 20.11.2012 accessed on 1 April 2013


United States, despite its differences cannot afford to ignore Iran in finding a solution that suits
its interests.
For Pakistan, Iran is very vital, if it wants peace on its territory, improved relations with future
Afghanistan and meeting its security concerns.



When I received the invitation, the first thing that struck to my mind was what to do but I will
tell you honestly the answer was that I really wanted to go. This is very important event for me
because I have learnt a lot of things from your scholars about this region. I have also learnt many
things from the questions of the students. I would like to tell you that I will try to convey the
outcome of this conference with Romanian public through my institution.
I did not come here because I am a friend of Professor Qureshi but because I was Romanian
Ambassador to Pakistan between 1996 to 2000. I left Pakistan one year before US-NATO forces
attacked Afghanistan and came back again here one year before they are leaving.
But I would like to share with you that the reason of my presence here is also because my
Institute [Romanian Institute of Europe-Asia Studies, Bucharest] is going to sign Memorandum
of Understanding with the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad and Society of
Asian Civilizations Pakistan. It means you may see here or I may see some of you in Romania.
Another point I would like to mention here is Professor Doctor Z. A. Quershi of NUML and
Professor Pervez Iqbal Chema of NDU are both Honorary Members of my institute from 2008.
In the morning secession, we learnt the position of Pakistan in present scenario, Afghanistan
situation and interest and position of surrounding countries in Afghanistan. I am really thankful
to the scholars for their efforts who came up with such brilliant presentations on such a relevant
topic. Well, I also have some personal remarks on the topic. I do not represent Romania but I am
representing my institute and it is what the way I see because one question arises how should I
speak as a diplomat or a scholar. I choose the third option that is a friend of Pakistanis.
I truly believe that Pakistan is a very important player in this region and particularly significant
in Afghan equation.
Second point I would like to underline is that Pakistan is interested in securing its national
interest that is security coupled with three possibilities:

First, its own responsibility and its own national interest,

Second, being a player, it also has a responsibility for Afghanistan and

Third, I believe, Pakistan also has a responsibility for this region.

Here interests of China, India and US are being discussed but I would like to discuss the interest
of Central Asian States because they also would like to be a part of any decision in Afghanistan.
During my research on this topic, I came to know that there are many economic projects which
only could be met with peace in the region.


Here, I will mention that scholars played a lot of attention to security but I would like to mention
the economic aspect of this problem. We have to have peace in Afghanistan to meet the
economic projects and we also have to have economic projects after the US-NATO withdrawal
from Afghanistan to sustain political structure in the country.
My point of thinking is that we have to do it together. There is a small but very significant
difference between interests of Pakistan, India, Iran and that of any other country. The reality is
that Pakistan is the most sufferer neighboring state and this is the point we need to take it into
We did not touch one point that is new alignments. I think there should be a forum in this part
of world that we can call as the Conference for Interaction and Confidence Building Measures
(ICBMS). The Charter of this forum should be peace, security and stability that all we need in
this region. What they say we want to have common Asia. As far as South East Asia is
concerned, they also started on the same grounds what we can say in political terms integration.
So I will say ICBMS is a tool even for Afghanistan. In my view, these are very important
grounds to discuss the security issues in this part of the world.
I also think that it has two very important ingredients:

we can have integrated the region as a strategic reach and

we will have greater strategic convergence in Asia.

This will help very much and I will conclude by saying that as a Romanian, I wish peace and
prosperity in this region. I also like to know that we are concerned with the developments in this
part of the world and I am pretty sure all Romanians want peace and prosperity in this region. As
a former Ambassador of Romania to Pakistan, one thing I know for sure that Romanians and
Pakistanis share many cultural ties and mutual respect for each other.


An ancient Chinese proverb encapsulates a profound lesson for the Afghan Pakistan equation
perhaps most explicitly. It states immediate neighbours are far better off than your distant
As the two-day International Conference on US-NATO Exit from Afghanistan: Challenges and
Options beyond 2014 draws to its conclusion, it is important to recap significant ideas and
concepts highlighted by the distinguished scholars from home and abroad on the subject. How to
understand gravity of the unfolding situation---in the aftermath of the US withdrawal in 2014--either with prospects of increased hope, dismay or fear?
The Inaugural Session of the conference started with recitation from Holy Quran. Later, in his
Welcome Address, Maj. General (R) Masood Hasan, Rector NUML highlighted the multifarious
contribution made by the University in the field of education, research and advancement of the
University in various areas.
Dr. Z. A. Qureshi, Head of Department, International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies,
NUML gave introduction of the Conference and the main theme and set the tone of the two
days deliberations. He identified the following three areas in which the scholars from Pakistan
and abroad were to deliberate:

What lessons need to be learnt from the decade-long engagement of the US and Western
powers involvement in Afghanistan ?
What are the available options, global and regional implications and alternate scenarios
after US Drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014 and alignments thereafter and
Pakistans role in peace, security and stability of Afghanistan, the region and the world at

Prof. Dr. Tahir Amin, Director, National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University,
Islamabad gave an illuminating account and analysis of the Afghan tangle in his Key-Note
Address. He put forward before the audience some of the most difficult questions:

Is the US departure a voluntary move ?

Is it a deliberately planned strategy ?
Does it reflect a resounding defeat ?
Following the US departure, would the domestic fallout in Afghanistan take
the form of a Civil War along ethnic lines ?
Would it involve other stake-holders to become a proxy war at the regional
and international levels ?
Is Afghanistan on its way to balkanization or is it hinging on the path of a
new peace deal?


The worthy scholar, in his most researched key-note address highlighted the impact of Afghan
transitional period for the Kabul regime. In the absence of NATO and ISAF, with a fragile
Afghan National Security Force, he expressed the fear that the Kabul government will crumble
down and fell down like a house of cards. The recipe for a long lasting peace, he argued,
remained wedded to a broad- based consensus framed on inclusion of the inescapable reality of
the Pushtuns and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Executive Director, , IslamabadHigher Education Commission spoke about
the great significance and efforts made by Pakistan in the field of Afghan education to help
facilitate a transition what he termed from guns to pens.
His Excellency. Mohammed Omerdaudzai, Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
dwelt upon the likely repercussions and spillover effect of the Afghan transitional period for
domestic, regional and international stability. He appreciated the positive role of the
international collaborative efforts for development of Afghanistan and subsequent success of the
Kabul regime. In a resounding note, he expressed his firm belief that after the exit of US-ISAF
combat troops from Afghanistan, Taliban may explode bombs and create disruption in the civil
life of the people but are, in no way, capable to take over the Government in Kabul.
His Excellency Richard G. Olson, Ambassador of the United States of America highlighted the
critical role of US-Pakistan partnership in the sustenance of socio-economic uplift of
Afghanistan. His Excellency termed the US exit as continued presence and a policy of
engagement rather than abandonment and a complete withdrawal of forces. It is not withdrawal,
rather it is continued engagement and draw-down for the sake of larger international interests, the
Ambassador remarked.
This was followed by the address of Chief Guest, Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretary of
Government of Pakistan who stressed upon Pakistans vital contribution in line with international
efforts for up-gradation and development of the Afghan society. He termed sky to be the ultimate
limit as far as Pakistans sincerity of commitment for the Afghan purpose was concerned. He
said Pakistan believes in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution of the problem.
Brigadier Azam Jamal, Director General, NUML presented the Vote of Thanks which was
followed by a Group Photo.
The first Academic Session of the conference was chaired by Prof. Emeritus, Marvin G.
Weinbaum, University of Illinois, USA. The first speaker of this session was Prof. Christian
Vallar, Dean of Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Nice, Sophia Antipolis,
France. The title of his paper was USA and NATO Forces withdrawal and the French Policy:
Between Hope for Peace and Fear of ongoing War in Afghanistan. In his paper, the scholar
emphasized on the contribution made by France in the humanitarian, material and financial fields
as part of international collaborative effort for the multi-dimensional progress of Afghanistan.
The next paper of the session was that of Mr. Rodney Jones, President, Policy Architects
International, USA titled: US-NATO Pack Up Forces in Afghanistan: Raising the Curtain On,
Whats Next. Mr. Rodney Jones could not make it in person on account of non-issuance of visa.


Hence, his paper was read by Professor Wienbaum. Mr Jones pinned high hopes on sociopolitical and military institutional development of Afghanistan with dividends for the future.
Later, Professor Wienbaum presented his own paper titled: US Exit from Afghanistan and the
Quest for a Political Solution. He linked the critical indispensability of withdrawal with the
process of reconciliation and the prospects of how to make Taliban inclusive of the peace deal.
This was followed by a Question Answer session that focused on the US-NATO exit and the
prospects of start of a New Great Game in the region and fears of regional powers involvement
in the affairs of Afghanistan.
The Second Academic session was chaired by Ambassador Ayaz Wazir who had served as
Consul General in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan during the crucial period of
Mujahideen war against the Soviet occupying forces. He was also part of the parleys between
Pakistan Government and Mujahideen leaders to bring about peace in Afghanistan after the
Soviet withdrawal. Dr Maqsood-ul-Hassan Nuri, Advisor, Centre for Policy Studies, COMSATS
Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad was the first speaker of this session. The title of
his paper was Military Withdrawal: Prospective Scenarios for Afghanistan and the Region. He
expressed a positive view, saying that a natural settlement of the Afghan problem will take place
subsequently. He highlighted the prospects that a regional level developmental collaborative
effort including that of India and China fosters greater prospects for regional stability. Dr, Nazir
Hussain, Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam
University, Islamabad assessed the emerging scenario in the perspective of the realist paradigm
and asserted that the US drawdown, in fact, only signified US legitimacy of access for the
regions vast untapped resources. He asserted that the US residual force, irrespective of its
varying account of numbers, largely reflected American desire to maintain bases around this
region. Prevention of international terrorism and a no to safe havens of Al-Qaeda was only a
garb of the US larger desire for strategic presence in Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. Dr
Maria Sultan, Director General, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, Islamabad emphasized
that no matter whosoever controls power at the centre, the key question rests on how to extend
writ of the state and control over the ethnically divided peripheral areas. This was followed by
the Question-Answer Session. The participants expressed concern that the presence of the
residual force only indicated partial withdrawal supported by high-tech military presence
functional from the Arabian Sea. The queries raised also asked as to what would be the residual
force end up in achieving international peace, domestic prosperity for Afghanistan or else and
continued regional instability. Perhaps a complete withdrawal promoted the prospects of a more
enduring peace in Afghanistan. A foreign presence, physical or otherwise in the form of a
foreign-sponsored or engineered peace deal is a recipe of disaster for the region.
Distinguished scholars of the Academic Session-III included prominent personalities viz. Mr
Mohammad Ashraf Ansari, Visiting Faculty of Department of IR-CPS, NUML, Mr. Saleem Safi,
GEO TV Anchor of the famous program Jirga and Prof Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, Dean, Faculty
of Contemporary Studies, National Defence University, Islamabad. The session was chaired by
Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Azeem, President, Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad. The speakers
highlighted the pros and cons of continued engagement of US forces in Afghanistan. As the
destinies of the Afghanistan and Pakistan remain interlinked as immediate neighbours more than
the distant relatives due to the geo-strategic and ethnic factors, the scholars predicted a massive
fallout on domestic stability within Pakistan. Prospects of forecast of oscillation between


pessimism and optimism as academicians predicted an existential threat with increased

instability and the rise of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan within Pakistan. Optimistic view holds the
promise of regional peace, stability and prosperity, fostered on a broad-based international
consensus for multilateral generous contributions to win hearts and minds of the Afghan masses.
Optimism was expressed that the exit strategy would incorporate a reconciliation effort in the
form of a new peace deal as well as socio-economic development to uplift the conditions of
Afghan masses.
In the Fourth Academic Session, chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Gheorghe Savuica,
Mr. Muqarrab Akbar of Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK, Dr Tabassum Firdous,
Senior Assistant Professor, Centre for Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, Sri Nager,
Indian-held Kashmir, Dr. Raja Mohammad Khan, Head of Department, International Relations,
National Defence University, Islamabad and Dr. Ijaz Khan, Professor at the Department of
International Relations, University of Peshawar presented papers. The topic of Mr. Muqarrab
Akbars paper was Implications of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in terms of
destabilization. Dr Tabassum Firdous highlighted Indian perceived role, following the 2014
withdrawal of US-NATO forces while Dr. Mohammad Khan dilated on Chinese perceived role
while Dr. Ijaz Khan dwelt at Iranian role in the Afghan tangle with particular reference to the
ISAF withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. The analysts highlighted a number of challenges
associated with the US drawdown strategy viz.

How to marry the US Exit with a sustainable reconciliation strategy i.e. it should be a
process of negotiated settlement, not from the position of weakness for the negotiators.
How to engage the Taliban who do not represent a monolithic entity.
How to ensure the existence and continuity of the Kabul government in a futuristic
power-sharing agreement that remains inclusive of the Taliban.
How to acknowledge the critical role of Pakistan and to address its legitimate security
concerns viz-a-viz the Indians, in particular and others in general.
And how to make the most of the US-Pakistan partnership that depends largely on how to
capitalize the opportunity for a peace deal.

In conclusion, it was said that without acknowledgment and adjustment to the multiple World
Orders that overlap, coexist and interpenetrate each other, a durable Afghan solution appears to
be a far distant cry.


Professor IJAZ KHAN

The scheduled drawdown of US-NATO forces from active combat in Afghanistan must
be responsible and it should not mean abandonment of Afghanistan. The International
Community, especially USA and NATO countries have a responsibility to stay engaged and
continue to support Afghanistan in the areas of Economy, Development, Training and Security.
It is also their responsibility to make Efforts in the time preceding the Drawdown deadline of
December 2014 for finding peaceful solution to the War in Afghanistan. However, if no solution
is found by then, efforts and support for resolution must continue even in the post Drawdown
All regional states have interest in peace in Afghanistan. They must make serious efforts
to evolve a consensus based on respect for interests of all and stop competing with each other.
For peace in Afghanistan, the solution must have support of all the regional states.
However, it must be emphasized that all peace efforts at international or regional levels
must be in support of an Afghan-led peace process. Afghans themselves are the real party that
can decide and ensure peace in their country. International and Regional States must support and
facilitate that process. The Afghan process must involve all the different groups, interests and
divisions of Afghan society.
Pakistan has a major stakes and due to its involvement with Afghan crisis since 1980s, it
has a major role in the process of its resolution. Pakistan has legitimate interests in Afghanistan
which must be respected by all parties. Along with it, Pakistan also has a major responsibility to
support and facilitate Peace Process at all three levels i. e. International, Regional as well as
Intra-Afghan which must be fulfilled.
The final agreement to be sustainable must be based on respect for the basic Human
Rights of all divisions, segments (including gender) and ethnic groups of Afghanistan.
At all the three levels, International, Regional and intra-Afghan, one point must be
ensured that the situation in Post-2014 Afghanistan must not be permitted to result in total
mayhem and rule of Warlords.