Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 21st, 2018

U.S. Needs to Stay Longer in Afghanistan

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U.S. Needs to Stay  Longer in Afghanistan

Like many people in Afghanistan and other parts of world the Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Chrishna emphasizes for longer presence and support of U.S. in Afghanistan. He mentions, "It is necessary for the United States to factor in Afghanistan's ground realities so that Afghanistan will be in a position to defend itself against terrorism sponsored by the Taliban." There have been concerns regarding the troops' drawdown that had been announced by U.S. President Obama and that has already started and the transition process that is going on in the country through which the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is handing over the security responsibility of seven Afghan provinces to Afghan security forces, while the capacity of the Afghan security forces still remains a controversial, which is doubled by the prevailing corruption in the security forces. The concern was mentioned by Indian Foreign Minister after the talks with Hillary Clinton, who is during her visit to India. Hillary Clinton's visit to India is for the purpose of furthering the strategic ties between the two countries and definitely bringing India into confidence regarding the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The security situation in Afghanistan is getting serious with each passing day. There have been various incidents that have convinced many to doubt the improvement in the country after the transition and drawdown. With the presence of the ISAF, there have been major blows by the terrorists in the country. They have been able to easily target wherever and whoever they will. The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is a matter of concern for the entire South Asian region. Most of the South Asian countries, though with varying degrees, have been victimized by terrorism.

India has been a victim of this menace as well; the previous attack in Mumbai in Taj Mahal Palace and Tower that resulted in the death of 164 people and wounded about 308 people and the current bomb blasts that killed around 13 people can all stand as the witness to the claim. India now fears that if the International community, especially U.S. leaves Afghanistan too hastily, the terrorist networks in the country may proliferate and start terrifying the region as a whole. Therefore, India wants to be sure that all necessary precautions are kept in consideration before the complete drawdown.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has stressed upon the considerate U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. In her statement in the southern Indian port city of Chennai on Wednesday, July, 20, 2011 she mentioned, "Let me be clear – drawing down is not the same as disengaging.

We will continue targeting terrorists and supporting the Afghan army and police, and we will continue our efforts to help the Afghan people rebuild after three decades of war." Whether such statements were delivered to soothe the Indian concern or the U.S. is really interested in remaining actively engaged in Afghanistan is difficult to conclude as the U.S. government at the moment is facing a very harsh opposition for decreasing war and debt and assistance budgets at home. Moreover, the approaching presidential election in the country is further pressurizing the U.S. President to withdraw as much as possible from Afghanistan. Further, the drawdown announced by President Obama is also exceeding the number that was expected by the U.S. Army leadership in Afghanistan.

India also fears that the withdrawal of international forces may give a chance to Pakistan to extend its influence in Afghanistan, because India has always claimed the Pakistani connection with the terrorist networks in the region. Therefore, from Indian view point, the vacuum that will be created after the drawdown or withdrawal of international troops will be filled by Pakistan supported factions. At the same time, India, though not from the evident view point, can not tolerate to have the U.S. presence in the region as well; but that can not be shared while there is U.S. Secretary of state visiting your country.

One of the basic inclinations in both Indian and Pakistani politics is to gauge the scenario in such a way so as to conclude it against each other. If such an inclination is avoided and the scenario is perceived as per the wellbeing of the entire region, there may be remarkable progress on so many frontiers. India and Pakistan have lost much during their hostile relations since the very first day of their separation.

At the moment the necessary triangle, Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. is not in a proper shape. The relations have gotten very tense. Afghanistan seems to be very much annoyed from Pakistan because of the issue of cross border rocket shelling, while U.S. has been not satisfied of the performance of Pakistan regarding anti-terrorism endeavors. Pakistan on the other hand still seems annoyed by the U.S. unilateral operation in Abbotabad that resulted in Osama's death. Moreover, the current pause in the U.S. military aid to Pakistan has further aggravated the situation. And it is really unfortunate that they are not finding any political solution to the issue bothering them so vehemently. This scenario is also clear for Indians, and they have the right to be bothered by it, because it in the long run is going to affect them greatly. The countries like India and Iran are definitely in the circle of the influence of terrorism, it is difficult for both of them to extract themselves out of it. Therefore, they must be involved in it and apart from emphasizing the international community for playing better role in Afghanistan issue must at the same time make their positive role sure in Afghanistan.

It is nicely said by Hillary Clinton, "We all need to be on the same page for this to work, whether we live in Kabul or Islamabad, New Delhi or Washington." This is the only way out. The issue of terrorism has gotten so serious that no country, among these four in general and Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. triangle in particular can reach to proper solution. They all seem to display themselves vigilant enough to be safeguarding their national interests but in the same pursuit they forget the fact that their national interests are only guaranteed if the terrorism is eradicated from the region to a considerable extent.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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