As the transition period is going on in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of international forces are going to be completed in 2014, there are concerns about the capability of Afghan authorities to shoulder the responsibilities of carrying on the security and governance of the country appropriately. This fact is now widely accepted that Afghanistan would require a lot of support even after 2014 from prominent powers in the world.
Strategic agreements with major powers in the world and the regional players will definitely support Afghanistan in this regard. Afghan authorities have already started efforts in this regard. Strategic partnership with India has already been decided and there have been discussions going on about strategic agreement with the most dominant player in Afghanistan – the US.
The strategic agreement between Afghanistan and US will be a dominant one. The US has already announced the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 but at the same time has mentioned that it would be supporting Afghanistan in building a country with independent political and economic system so that it would play a dominant role in putting an end to religious extremism and terrorism as terrorism had hit US hard on 9/11.
The US thinks that the best way to proceed with this support would be a strategic agreement between the two countries, therefore recently there have been discussions going on both in US and Afghanistan among the authorities about the agreement and the nature and details of it.
One of the most dominating points that have been bothering the authorities is the permanent US bases in Afghanistan. Some of the authorities in Afghanistan and mostly the authorities of the regional countries have serious concerns about US permanent bases.
The regional countries believe that US can use these permanent bases against them and can also pursue their political aims as long as they remain in their neighborhood. It is really difficult task for both US and Afghan authorities to make the regional countries believe that these bases will not be used against them in any case, if it is decided in the strategic agreement that US can have permanent bases in Afghanistan and there is possibility that US will consider this issue as the most important one before signing the agreement.
Another issue that is of great importance regarding the agreement is the night raids. In the recent Loya Jirga, President Karzai mentioned, and it was also agreed upon by the Jirga members as well, that Afghanistan would agree for the strategic cooperation only if US stops the night raids upon civilian residence.
Though the Jirga's decision can not be considered final and it has to be approved by the parliament, this has been the issue that president Karzai has been following so seriously. The night raids have been adopted by US troops as one of the most effective tactics in searching and targeting the terrorists.
They have been able to target some of very dominant terrorist leaders in this regard and they want to continue the same for effective dealing with the terrorists. The night raids have bothered the Afghan authorities because there have been claims that these raids have resulted in civilian casualties.
The same has been propagated by media and even international humanitarian organizations. However, at the same time it also remains a fact that terrorists have been using civilians as shields and try to escape. On most of the other cases, they even disguise themselves as simple citizens and play their part. Afghan history has been a witness to this fact so many times.
The other important issue, as was hinted above, is the reaction of the regional countries. Countries like Iran and Pakistan do not like the presence of US forces in Afghanistan at all. Iran has been a traditional rival to US.
After the Revolution in Iran, there has been a series of bad patches in the relations of both the countries. Recently, there are serious differences between the two countries about the nuclear program of Iran. Moreover, Iran has always mentioned that permanent bases in Afghanistan would be considered a threat for Iran.
Pakistan on other hand has always been of the opinion that US has used and can use the Afghan soil in order to threaten the sovereignty of Pakistan. In addition, US-Pak relations are also going through a tough time.
From the unilateral decision of US to hunt Osama in Abbotabad to the bombing of US embassy and NATO headquarter in Kabul, there has been a steep decline in the relations of both the countries and they have been blaming each other for not doing its part against terrorism. Moreover, Pakistan, in accordance to the theory of strategic depth in Afghanistan, would want that it should have a strong hold in Afghan affairs so that it should be in a position to stand rigidly against India.
Apart from the strategic agreement with India and US, Afghanistan is eyeing such agreements with other important countries as well. According to the reports, Afghanistan would sign strategic cooperation pact with the United Kingdom after the 2nd Bonn Conference, slated for December 5 in Germany, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said on Monday i.e. November 21, 2011.
Addressing a press conference here, Aimal Faizi said Kabul and London had been holding talks for the past seven month on the agreement, envisaging the creation of a military academy in Afghanistan and training of national security forces.
Other important features of the accord included Afghan officials' capacity building, good governance, economic cooperation and an improved financial regime, Faizi said, adding that Karzai would ink the agreement during his visit to Britain after the Bonn meeting.
Definitely, these agreements are of great importance and they can serve as strong support for Afghanistan once it has to stand on its own. But at the same time, it must be maintained how to use the diplomatic ties wisely.
As an intelligent country Afghanistan must always strive for peace and cooperation and it can always take advantage of animosity and friendships between the other countries for its benefits but can not let its national interest be neglected for the same.