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Pursuing a regional security approach

Afghanistan’s national security advisor, Hanif Atmar, on Wednesday in a meeting with Indian ambassador in Kabul, Amar Sinha, said that lasting peace and stability in the region could only be achieved if there is a sincere cooperation among all the regional countries against terrorism. Education and economy also came under discussion in the discourse between the two officials.

When it comes to regional cooperation, it is not only Pakistan or India, whose role is important, but Iran, China, Central Asian Republics (CARs), and Russia need to be taken onboard. Their role can make a real difference. Signing a highly controversial bilateral security agreement with the United States, the President Ashraf Ghani-led National Unity Government realized that instead of pursuing a policy where the West plays a dominant role, it is better to pursue a regional approach, which is why he defined his foreign policy in five main areas. Therefore, soon after forming a National Unity Government, he attempted trying regional remedies. The areas included ties with immediate neighbors, regional countries, Muslim world, the US and the Global North.

After the fall of Kunduz city to the Taliban last month, and the increased presence of the Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan, worried Russia in particular and China in general. Resultantly, Russia is willing to pick up its role in Afghanistan because the drawdown of foreign forces has created a void, which needs to be filled. The United States has unfortunately been pursuing the same shoddy security approach in Afghanistan. Under this approach the US heavily relies on Pakistan. Currently Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in US on visit where American President Obama will push Sharif to do more to counter terrorism and bring the Taliban to the table of negotiations. This is what makes part of this shoddy approach, which has already failed to work out during the past 14 years. Any doubts? Then we need to look back and try to know what kind of results this approach has delivered except increase in the number of the Taliban and terror attacks. Is there any positive outcome visible being delivered by this ‘do more’ policy of the US and the ‘yes we are doing’ policy of Pakistan, on the ground?

Since 2004, there has been a steadiest rise in insecurity, and this is all because of this flawed US policy. In such a situation, Afghanistan is naturally pushed into seeking regional support, which is sincere and continued. The government is trying to pursue a regional solution to the conflict, yet so far it didn’t devise any strategy how to pursue this regional approach. Our neighboring countries, like India, Iran, Russia and China, and CARs, have been affecting the situation in Afghanistan, yet the developments on ground indicate that Pakistan has been given superfluous leverage. The regional and powerful countries like Russia and India as well as the international belligerent force against terror like the US must realize that the more Afghanistan reduces its dependence on Pakistan for its peace and security the more the approach will become fruitful as during the past 14 years there have been only one direct peace dialogue with the Taliban and that too in an environment where the Taliban’s leader was dead two years ago and statements were used to be issued with his name.

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