Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Beyond Security

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Beyond Security

Another milestone in talks and commitments on Afghanistan is kicked off in Chicago. Afghanistan stands at the top of the agenda when heads of state and government from the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meet in Chicago Sunday and Monday. Following the decade-long war in Afghanistan, countdown has begun for ISAF and NATO forces to leave Afghanistan. Afghanistan National Forces will then undertake the job on its own.

Good investments are made in security sector to make sure peace and stability last longer once international troops have abandoned the country. However, discrepancies and disagreements over the status quo and the future plans have raised concerns on whether or not Afghanistan can afford to protect itself beyond 2014.

US administration's strategic plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan viewed a common destiny and interlinked future for the two countries. Accordingly, Pakistan and other countries were asked to provide the world community with the required genuine cooperation to put an end to the problem. Based on the principle, Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, is invited to attend the NATO summit on Afghanistan. His office said in a statement Thursday that he will attend the NATO summit meeting about Afghanistan in Chicago this weekend.

the statement said NATO had invited Zardari to the conference on Tuesday, just days after the organization's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, had suggested that the neighbor of Afghanistan would not be included because of the continued closure of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan to war supplies. The decision to attend the meeting was made in consultation with Pakistan's top military and civilian leaders, the statement from Zardari's office said.

Pakistan has played key role in forming the recent happenings in Afghanistan and thus Afghans and the world countries cannot ignore the country's role for the days ahead. Tensions between Pakistan and Western forces operating in Afghanistan have been high since NATO airstrikes killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in November, 2011.

The closure of the border with Afghanistan to NATO supply routes was one of the measures Islamabad employed to show its displeasure over the airstrikes. Talks to reopen the border have intensified ahead of the Chicago meetings. U.S. negotiators have been in Pakistan since late April, and this past weekend, Gen. John Allen, who oversees all U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and his Afghan counterpart were in Pakistan for discussions that included talks about the border situation. Analysts have described the NATO summit invitation as an incentive for Zardari to reopen the routes.

On the other hand, efforts in Afghanistan are aimed at capacitating Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) to ensure a smooth transition. As part of the highly interconnected world security, the peace making mission in Afghanistan is being transferred with great fear and anxiety. The third phase of security transition to Afghan forces was launched few days ago. The event took place with fear and concerns about a post-2014 period remaining widespread.

The withdrawal process is, of course, a natural and inevitable event. But the question remains on how soon the forces can transfer the job. In addition to the hard ground realities and the regional sabotaging moves, the US administration has long encountered challenges at home. Recent opinion surveys show that American public support for the war in Afghanistan is down to 27 percent, and only 37 percent of Republicans support the ongoing war effort. But some Republican lawmakers have criticized the President for moving too quickly to draw down American troops from Afghanistan, jeopardizing hard won gains. 

A bipartisan group of 86 members of the U.S. House of Representatives has written a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated end. Several of the lawmakers who signed the letter gathered to talk to reporters, saying extending the war is only going to mean more young American men and women in uniform will die or lose their limbs in Afghanistan. 

In their letter to the President, the 86 members say that while they would prefer an immediate full withdrawal from Afghanistan, there is broad consensus in Congress that it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. They asked President Obama to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility at the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago. 

Moreover, Afghanistan's priorities are not limited to peace building requirements. Much has to be done to build the nation that was first planned for. Since the beginning of the 21st century that implied a promising start for Afghans, the country has enjoyed all-out supports from international community and particularly the United States of America. Irrespective of how effective the aids have proved, Afghanistan received a warm welcome from donor countries soon after Taliban were ousted from power and an environment of pro-democracy and freedom emerged here.

No need to say, the donor countries have had huge mistakes in conceiving the ground, designing plans and approaching the subject here. But the nation has always waited for the time when President Karzai's government takes a step to fight ineffectiveness, inefficiency, corruption and malfunction. It has made hollow pledges and has taken measures that have proved somewhat counterproductive.

Going to experience an era of nascent democracy, human rights and fragile peace, Afghanistan will have no more opportunities to recommit past blunders, continue anomalous politics and remain short-sighted. Ethnic politics, factional approaches and friction-based policy making have made the democratization process linger in Afghanistan.

Historical annals support theorists asserting that Afghanistan will not survive tensions, conflicts and ethnicism unless democracy is rooted here and reliable democratic institutions and principles prevail over all decisions taken to affect the nation. Economic growth, political development and peace building will remain far from achieved if government spends more time exempted from accountability and remains nontransparent.

Moreover, the transition raises higher level of fear as Taliban are recognized as a political opposition group being asked to occupy their political mission in oil-rich tiny kingdom of Qatar, home to thousands of US navy forces. The so called peace talks are coming more skeptical as Taliban are offered more-than-enough advantages. Withdrawal of the NATO forces, coming in coincidence with opening Taliban's political office and the continued transition phases have alarmed the nation who have long waited for justice and freedom. The recent moves by US and Afghan government to concede easily against the fugitive Taliban demonstrate serious skepticism on near future happenings here.

The Chicago Summit is expected to produce no extraordinary result on Afghanistan and the mission being pursued here. However, Afghan government and its US counterparts have expressed hope for a new era in Afghanistan following the Summit. Security will top the agenda but, to say the truth, Afghanistan's problems remain far beyond that. A democratic ruling remains as important for Afghanistan as security though the later has always overshadowed democracy.

Nasruddin Hemmati is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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