Conflict in Afghanistan and emergence of the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, have already produced tremendous ripple effects—on the regional as well as international levels. Though most of Afghanistan’s neighbors agree that politics of conflict and regional rivalries encourage extremism, but, unfortunately, they have not help the country the way required. The neighbors have not agreed till date that Afghan conflict is a humanitarian disaster. Forced deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan is an epitome in this aspect. The neighboring countries including Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia have not built consensus that the Afghan conflict attracted foreign fighters, let alone establishing a joint anti-terrorism mechanism that could yield positive results.
Realizing the importance of regional cooperation in the war against terrorism, Moscow is planning to hold a tripartite consultative meeting on Afghanistan. According to media reports Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials will participate in the meeting next month in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s director of the Second Asian Department, Zamir Kabulov, told RIA Novosti that officials of these countries would confer on establishing a wider regional partnership in order to protect themselves from the terrorist spillover. Russia is working on forming what she calls an “Afghan-regional” project. Moscow has also contacted the Iranian and Indian officials. But it is unclear that whether they or Afghan leaders would participate in the December consultative meeting.
However, at this point is very clear that key regional players such as Russia is focused on its own interests. The strategies these countries are evolving and discussing are not addressing the root-cause of terrorism. These countries cannot win the war against extremism and terrorism unless they go after sanctuaries and sponsors of terrorists that are beyond Afghan frontiers. The narrowly and poorly defined objectives would not help Russia to stop Daesh or other terrorist groups from making inroads into the Central Asia.
In order to draft a comprehensive and productive counter-terrorism strategy, countries like Russia should search for answers to core questions such as: Will Pakistan change its decades old stance on the local and trans-regional terrorist groups? Will Pakistan force Taliban to renounce violence or announce ceasefire to give green signal to the Afghan-owned and Afghan led-peace process? Can Pakistan succeed in overcoming the trust deficit between Kabul and Islamabad? How Pakistan can play role in regional stability? Will Moscow and Beijing put pressure on Islamabad to stop interference in internal affairs of Afghanistan? These are the major questions which should be answered by these countries to restore trust and hope of Afghans. If concerns of Afghans were left unaddressed then fate of the proposed conference would not be different than the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, comprising of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States. Furthermore, there should be broad consensus on how to support the Afghan government to eliminate terror groups. Most of these groups have foreign origin.