Unity at the heart of Asia

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Gen Mirza As­lam Beg

THE fast chang­ing sce­nario in Afghanistan gives one hope that the post 1990 con­spir­a­cies which tor­mented the Afghans might not be re­peated as for­eign oc­cu­pa­tion is va­cated. There­fore, the fac­tors de­ter­min­ing the des­tiny of Afghanistan need to be an­a­lysed, keep­ing in mind the con­spir­a­cies of the past which pre­vented a peace­ful trans­fer of power after the Soviet re­treat. That led to a civil war, which threw up the Tal­iban as re­deemers, but they were cut down by the in­vad­ing forces in 2001. Then fol­lowed the thir­teen year war of oc­cu­pa­tion, which pre­vented the Afghans from form­ing a gov­ern­ment of their choice. The re­cently held Heart of Asia Con­fer­ence at Beijing sets its sights on the fu­ture and iden­ti­fies the fac­tors which could usher Afghanistan into a new era of peace and sta­bil­ity. The fac­tors un­der fo­cus are:

The Tal­iban have emerged as the win­ners and have shown seren­ity of judg­ment. They are pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate peace, with the new Unity gov­ern­ment of Ashraf Ghani

An In­tra-Afghan Di­a­logue that was held in Paris, in De­cem­ber 2012, at the Foun­da­tion for Strate­gic Re­search, where the par­tic­i­pat­ing Tal­iban; North­ern Al­liance and the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Pres­i­dent Karzai char­tered a peace process road-map to 2015, en­vis­ag­ing a role for Pak­istan sup­ported by the United States. They also re­solved "to re­main united, work­ing for a broad-based gov­ern­ment, for peace in Afghanistan." This is the on-go­ing process now.

The new Afghan gov­ern­ment, un­der Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani, has taken pos­i­tive steps, con­firm­ing the de­ci­sions taken by the 2012 High Peace Coun­cil at Paris.

Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani has de­clared that the fu­ture of Afghanistan will be de­cided in a very se­lec­tive man­ner and in close co­or­di­na­tion with its six neigh­bors of the In­ner-Cir­cle - namely Pak­istan, Iran, China, Rus­sia and the Cen­tral Asian coun­tries. All oth­ers are ex­pected to support his ini­tia­tive.

The Pak-Afghan his­tor­i­cal and civ­i­liza­tional bondages are emerg­ing stronger, and re­ject the machi­na­tions of out­siders into the af­fairs of the two coun­tries.

The United States has shifted its Strate­gic Pivot to the Asia Pa­cific re­gion. It has rec­on­ciled to the emerg­ing changes in Afghanistan and par­tic­u­larly sup­ports Ashraf Ghani's con­cept of Unity at the Heart of Asia, and his ini­tia­tive to forge closer re­la­tions with Pak­istan. In­dia gets a new role as a lead­ing part­ner in the Asia-Pa­cific Coali­tion against China, same as Is­rael has a role in the Mid­dle East.

Th­ese are the pos­i­tive signs which prom­ise peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan that will ex­tend beyond to Pak­istan, to bring an end to state spon­sored ter­ror­ism on Afghan soil. And with this will come to an end the US ob­ses­sion to es­tab­lish In­dia as the dom­i­nant power, from Kabul to Dacca. Thus, the im­me­di­ate neigh­bors of Afghanistan, of the First Cir­cle, have a common cause of es­tab­lish­ing re­gional peace, to pro­vide a much needed bal­ance of power in the Heart of Asia re­gion.

Pak­istan's for­eign pol­icy de­ter­mi­nants are be­ing set forth in a style and man­ner which is not apolo­getic any more. Gen­eral Ra­heel rushed to Kabul to tell the In­di­ans to wind up their con­spir­acy net­work op­er­at­ing against Pak­istan since 2005 and to curb Pak­istani ter­ror­ists op­er­at­ing from Afghan soil. He went to United King­dom to tell them that it was not the first time that the 'London Plan' has emerged from their soil and that there was solid proof that Pak­istani dis­si­dent groups were be­ing har­boured and funded by sources in the United King­dom. Ear­lier, he spent two weeks in the United States ex­plain­ing to them the emerg­ing re­al­i­ties in the Heart of Asia and Pak­istan's con­cerns about the se­cu­rity chal­lenges to the coun­try.

The Americans don't seem to have a for­eign pol­icy of their own. John Kerry vis­ited Pak­istan and his for­eign pol­icy ini­tia­tives ap­peared fully sub­dued and sup­port­ive of In­dia on the is­sue of Kashmir. Re­gard­ing Afghanistan, he re­peated the old de­mand, "do-more" against Haqqani net­work and Afghan Tal­iban. Yet it is time that the United States adopt a pol­icy in har­mony with the emerg­ing re­al­i­ties in the re­gion.

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