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Afghanistan Peace Process and its Implications to the Region
  |Thursday, 23 June 2016 12:00|Other| Page Views : 887



  AFGHANISTAN PEACE PROCESS AND ITS IMPACT TO THE REGION

Chronology

1838 British forces invade and install King Shah Shujah.

1842 King Shah is assassinated. British and Indian troops are massacred during retreat from Kabul.

1878-1880 Second Anglo-Afghan War. Britain startscontrol of Afghan foreign affairs after a treaty.

1919 Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence from British influence.

1929 Amanullahflees after failing to introduce new social reforms.

1933 Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next four decades.

1953 General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister.

1963 Mohammed Daudresignsfrom prime minister due to the pressure.

1964 Introduce the Constitutional monarchy which leads to political polarization and power struggles.

1973 Mohammed Daud(Ally of USSR) seizes power in a coup and declares a republic.

1978 Assassination of General Daud in a pro-Soviet coup. The People's Democratic Party comes to power but is paralyzed by violent infighting and faces opposition by US-backed mujahedeen groups.

1978 April People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan

1979 Assassination of Afghan President Nur Muhammad Taraki Hafizullah Amin assumed the duties as the president

1979 - December Assassination of Hafizullah Amin. BabrakKarmalbecomes the President. Soviet troops directly involved in to the war in Afghanistan USA supported anti Soviet Mujahedeen and "Afghan Arab" fighters through Pakistan's ISI

1987 MohammadNajibullah became the president

1989 Soviets troops withdraw

1990 Country officially become an Islamic state

1992 Najibullahoustfrom power.

Establishing of Post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan by the Peshawar Accord

Hezb-e Islami of GulbuddinHekmatyar starts attacking against the capital city Kabul

1994 Taliban gain control of southern Afghanistan.

1996 Al Qaeda group startoperating in Afghanistan (till 2001)

1997 Taliban recognizeas legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia

2001 - September Assassination of Afghan political and military leader,Massoud

USA government suspect Al Qaeda over 9/11 attack

2001 - October Launching of Operation Enduring Freedom by US and UK targeting al-Qaeda training camps.

December Taliban government topple

2004 - December Hamid Karzai becomes the president

2009 Taliban forms a shadow government

2010 Refuse the peace negotiations of President Karzai by Taliban leaders

2011 - May Death of Osama bin Laden

2014 - September Ashraf Ghani becomesthe President

December The US war in Afghanistan (America's longest war) officially ended.

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. It has a population of approximately 32 million. The country is bordered by Pakistan in the South and East, Iran in the West, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the North; and China in the far Northeast. Its territory covers 652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi), and position it as the 41st largest country in the world.As of 2015, the population of Afghanistan is around 32,564,342. This includes the roughly 2.7 million Afghan refugees who are still living in Pakistan and Iran. The only city with over a million residents is its capital, Kabul. Other large populace cities in the country areKandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad,LashkarGah, Taloqan, Khost, Sheberghan, and Ghazni. Over 99% of the Afghan population is Muslim and up to 90% are from the Sunni while others are Shia.

Pulling out of US troops and handing over security duties to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in 2014has created an instable situation in Afghanistan. This hasbecome worst as the US troops left Afghanistan by giving the responsibility to a weaker force when comparing to NATO. With the US announcement of withdrawal many investors and NGOs started abandoning Afghanistan, risking the country’s affected economy.Today Afghanistan economy is largely depends on 97% of foreign aid. As a result of declining economy the strength of ANA came down to 1,69,203 in February 2015 and by the end of 2015 it has further reduced up to 1,40,000.

Present security situation in Afghanistan remains unstable as the Taliban are trying to expanding it attacks in to northern areas of the country with the aim of gaining the popular support and boost the recruitment process.Being a powerful neighbor, Pakistan has to play a leading role in bringing permanent peace to this war torn country. However, Pakistan has been blamed for providing secure bases for Mujahid’sand maintaining close links with other terrorists groups to operate inside Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan accuse each other of supporting insurgencies across their border, which they both deny. Cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is essential to ending the insurgency as the Afghan Taliban hassecure bases on both sides of the border. Pakistan offensives against Taliban and Taliban activities in Afghanistanhave created over 350,000 to 500,000 refugees in both countries. This massive cross-border movement of refugees has become a common issue and creates a security risk to the neighboring countries in the region.

Since overthrowing the Taliban, India has invested heavily in renewing its ties with Afghanistan. At present, India is the largest regional donor to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and offered more than $1.2-billion (US) since 2001. This can be seen as a contribution toward greater regional stability. In addition India has been involved in various reconstruction and capacity-building projects, strengthening its economic ties with Afghanistan. India’s growing involvement in Afghanistan can also be seen as advancing more specific strategic goals. Afghanistan is geographically positioned to serve as a viable access route for energy coming from Central Asia. This is increasingly important as India takes steps to foster greater energy cooperation in the region. Once India is completed its highwayproject linking Afghanistan’s ring road to Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf, it could effectively reduce, Afghanistan’s current dependence, as a land-locked state, on Pakistan for sea access.

Pakistan considers India’s involvement in Afghanistan as an effort to displace or counterbalance Pakistan’s influence in the country. As India’s power in Afghanistan expands, especially its soft power, Pakistan is losing its position of economic and strategic privilege. Pakistan consider India’s growing influence, mainly its consular presence in Afghanistan, as a threat and blamed India for using these consulates as a cover for its intelligence agencies to carry out covert operations. However Pakistan always believes that friendly Afghanistan would be a ‘strategic depth’.

In a situation where the Al Qaeda has declared support to the Afghan Taliban, while bulk of the TTP (Tariq Taliban Pakistan) iscarrying out attacks in Afghanistan in line with the Islamic State, have put the country’s security domain at a great risk. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s declaration as a part of ISIS implies that the ISIS has already entered Central Asia. The spread of ISIS to Afghanistan and Pakistan territory will createfurther instability in the region.

InNovember 2015 Pakistan Chief of ArmyStaff has made an official visit to USA and agreed,to mediate for the peace talks between the Pakistan and the Taliban. However, the recent Taliban attackto residential buildings and the fortified airport in Kandahar, near the largest United States military base, raised serious questions about Taliban’sgenuineness in talking peace.In the mean while when Kabul is preparing to negotiate with the Taliban, Mr Nabil, the intelligence chief has resigned criticizing the Mr. Ghani’s approach. This would give a clue that former President, who is seen as still manipulating influence and as scuttling the new government’s efforts.

Beijing fears that the existence of Talibanand emerging ISIS activities in Afghanistan could encourage the Chinese Uighur population. China being the leading foreign investor in Afghanistan won the contract for Afghanistan’s largest copper mine, located in the troubled eastern region of the country and also secured oil and gas exploration rights in northern Afghanistan worth around 700 million dollars. An insecure Afghanistan could also serve as a barrier to Chinese regional ambitions that are aimed at strengthening regional integration. Afghanistan could potentially receive many economic investments through the Beijing’s‘SilkRoad’ project which will connect Western China to Northern Europe, passing through Central Asia, Middle East and Turkey.

However, the continuation of insurgency in the country would hamper the expansion of trade and fast delivery of Chinese goods along the new route. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan could have implications for other regional powers such as Russia and India, but China will not face the same repercussion as they have much influence on Pakistan. With the latest development in Taliban and IS activities Afghanistan, there is a possibility of getting Russianmilitary assistance in case of grave crisis like in Syria. This may be a one of the reason that President Barack Obama to revise the US troopsdeployment in Afghanistan.

In the meantime Russian Intelligence has revealed that hundreds of ISIS fighters coming from various nations are massing on Afghanistan’s northern border. These fighters are said to have linked with some Taliban fighting groups who are ready to work under ISIS flag. This would be highly critical to both South Asian and Central Asian region. If the ISIS would secure control of drug trafficking routes, it would be a serious threat to Russia and Europe. However, Russian strikes against ISIS-Al Qaeda in Syria are also facilitated at reducing their infiltrations into Afghanistan.

The fifth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process ministerial conference held in Pakistan on 9 December 2015, with the aim of bringing regional countries together to support peace and stability in Afghanistan. Foreign ministers of the 14 member countries (including Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia) and representatives from supporting countries and organizations have attended the conference. 2015 peace process was initiated by USA, however during the conference China played a leadingrole. With allies like Pakistan, Iran and Russia, China is in a much better position to determine the future progression of Afghanistan.Taliban hasexpressed their support to continue to facilitate and help to build a platform for the revival of the reconciliation process.During the conference many countries including USA have shown their concern over emerging Islamic State in Afghanistan while India perceives all militant groups in the country as a long-term threat for its interests and the stability of the region.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have now a remarkable shared understanding of what is needed for improving security in both countries and ending the conflict in Afghanistan. The two countries should recognize areas where cooperation between the two countries fail and need to work on to prevent any possible collapse of relation and cooperation in the future. In addition they should know that they cannot make peace in Afghanistan without close coordination with the United States and China. Over and above Nuclear-armed neighbors, India and Pakistan also have to change their stances over Afghan politics and this is the high time for both the countries to build a trust with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation.


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