The New Big Four

Afghanistan will be­come a se­ri­ous chal­lenge in the years to come. How­ever, if ap­proached with a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment, Iran, China, In­dia and Pak­istan could serve as parts of a vi­able sta­bi­liz­ing force.

Southasia - - Contents -

Shift­ing po­lit­i­cal par­a­digms in Afghanistan could sig­nal a reshuf­fling of poli­cies

As US troops in Afghanistan be­gin their pullout drill, coun­tries in the re­gion are lin­ing up to fill the im­pend­ing vac­uum. Not­with­stand­ing oft-re­peated con­cerns for sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity, a power strug­gle is gain­ing mo­men­tum. As in any for­eign pol­icy de­ci­sion mak­ing, na­tional in­ter­est will be the most cru­cial fac­tor im­pact­ing the Afghanistan agenda of re­gional pow­ers. Since fall­ing-out with the US, Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai too has been fa­nat­i­cally look­ing out to make new friends. It is a grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion in Kabul that long-term ben-

By Sunny Peter efits for Afghanistan can only be ac­crued through a re­gional mech­a­nism. Apart from en­sur­ing that he re­tains power amid wide­spread al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism, Pres­i­dent Karzai has worked on a three-fold agenda: pro­tect Afghanistan’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity, pur­sue peace with the Tal­iban, and lever­age the coun­try’s nat­u­ral re­sources to achieve eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, by a strange co­in­ci­dence of his­tory, Afghanistan’s destiny is in a com­plex bind, se­verely im­pacted by re­gional power dy­nam­ics. If se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity are a pre­req­ui­site for peace and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, en­sur­ing it in the Af-Pak re­gion is a key na­tional in­ter­est for all re­gional ac­tors. Iron­i­cally, much of the re­gion’s con­tra­dic­tions arise from this com­mon­al­ity in ob­jec­tive. A key chal­lenge that Afghanistan faces is to find a re­gional mech­a­nism that will en­able it to stave off over-de­pen­dence on the west. Pres­i­dent Karzai trav­els from cap­i­tal to cap­i­tal, meet­ing heads of states so­lic­it­ing a com­mon ground to de­lin­eate the fu­ture of Afghanistan. An ef­fort to achieve this ob­jec­tive among

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