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Editorial: NDAA-2017

To preserve the gains made in the past 15 years in Afghanistan, the United States President signed the annual defense budget, authorizing $3.4 billion for Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF). The annual defense budget—the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2017—will help the Afghan security forces to degrade terrorists and secure the achievements made in different sectors after fall of the Taliban’s regime. The good news is that NDAA-2017 not only extends the special immigrant visa scheme for Afghan interpreters and other Afghans who are threatened by the insurgents because of working for the US government here, but the law has also made conditional the $400 of the $900 million of the coalition support fund (CSF) to Pakistan. Islamabad will have to make sure that it is taking action against the notorious Haqqani Network.

Conditioning significant portion of the CSF to Pakistan would help Afghanistan in the fight against militancy and terrorism. Afghan militants are enjoying support of state actors in Pakistan. They are treated in Pakistani hospitals and their families live in Quetta, Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi. The Quetta, Miranshah, Karachi and Peshawar Shura of the Taliban are still intact. Pakistan has not detained or deported top leaders of the Taliban and Haqqani Network; though, it was agreed by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group that Pakistani military would take action against Afghan militants if they rejected participation in the peace process.

Besides that, the NDAA-2017 will have a psychological affect over Afghan insurgents and the Islamic State, aka Daesh. The militants were hoping that the US and its allies would abandon the Afghan government. However, it did not happen. There is no sign of fatigue on part of the international partners. So, the funding to Afghan security forces would morale of anti-Afghanistan elements down. They will realize that through violence they cannot achieve their nefarious design or topple the Afghan government. The next spring offensive will further weaken the anti-government forces.

Therefore, Afghans have welcomed the NDAA-2017. People of Afghanistan are hoping that the US forces would continue to target the insurgents and Daesh terrorists. But it is also true that only fighting militants would not bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, though it could improve security situation. Thus, the US and other Afghan partners should explore all possible avenues to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table. Unfortunately, a few neighboring countries have recognized the Taliban as a parallel government by contacting them. Afghan government should protest such contacts. To safeguard the gains, the US should also support Afghanistan by imposing economic sanctions on those countries which support Afghan insurgents.

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