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Afghanistan: In the Grip of Spiraling Instability
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Lt Gen Kamal Davar (Retd) | Date:28 Jul , 2016 2 Comments
Lt Gen Kamal Davar (Retd)
a distinguished soldier and veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars, was the founder director general of the Defence Intelligence Agency, raised after the Kargil conflict. After retirement, he writes and lectures on security, terrorism and allied issues in the national media and many forums.

Violence-stricken Afghanistan continues to find itself being helplessly crushed under the weight of spiraling political instability and mindless killings, which are often sponsored from across the border, with no peaceful end in sight. Just two days ago, the Islamic State – a Sunni terrorist outfit – targeted a peaceful procession of the minority Shia Hazaras, killing over 80 and injuring over 200.

That the masterminds behind most of these attacks remain in neighbouring Pakistan is universal knowledge; a country that zealously seeks an elusive “strategic depth” against India for itself in the land of Hindu Kush.

Pakistan, in its undying obsession for a pliant regime in Kabul, continues supporting the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network (HQN), whilst also giving to leaders of these Afghan terror networks safe havens in North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For the first time since the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2001 (now dubbed as Operation Resolute Support after the NATO troops drawdown in December 2015), American drones targeted Afghan Taliban leaders inside Pakistan in May 2016 killing their leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, generating a flicker of hope for the beleaguered Afghan government in Kabul.

Pakistan, apart from some not so obvious rumblings and not overtly protesting the maiden US intrusion into North Waziristan, showed the double dealings of the Pakistanis. In the Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, the US State Department had also administered a scathing rebuke to Pakistan for its failure to police various terror groups in the Waziristan region, opining that “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile, a look at the current political and security landscape in Afghanistan clearly displays the near failure of US’s strategic goals in this troubled nation since US and the ISAF landed in Afghanistan in 2001. Notwithstanding over 3,500 US and other NATO troops killed and hundreds of billions of dollars spent since 2001, the US mission of stabilizing Afghanistan and bringing  peace to this impoverished and restive region remains nowhere in sight for a variety of reasons.

US President Barack Obama, now in the final lap of his presidency, has an unflattering history of having the Afghan war continue right through two tenures of his being in the Oval office with mixed results. Thus, the recent announcement by the White House that the US would deploy at least 9,800 US troops with the necessary air power to assist the Afghan National Army to combat Taliban, has been welcomed by both the Kabul government and those who wish for stability in Afghanistan.

Among the major internal problems ailing Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s National Unity Government (NUG) being seriously afflicted by internal dissensions is one of the most serious causes for troubles that continue to brew in this war-torn country. President Ghani faces serious policy differences with his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah; corruption within the government is commonplace and most of the regional governors and senior officials are mostly filling up their personal coffers leading to insensitive governance with the Afghan public not only suffering but getting fed up with the current dispensation. Elections to the Afghan Parliament and in the districts, otherwise overdue, have not yet taken place owing to a variety of administrative shortcomings. In fact, a fair number of observers say that the NUG may not even survive till the end of this year.

However, the NUG should be supported by well-wishers of Afghanistan, else, all efforts and the marginal progress achieved in Afghanistan since 2001 will negate all endeavours of the US, the international and regional community in stabilizing Afghanistan. The only force to fill this vacuum will then be the Afghan Taliban conglomerate with its terror liaison the HQN, Hekyatmar faction, Mullah Nazir Group and, of course, the perpetrators of Kabul’s unending agony, Pakistan’s ISI. The ISIS has been gradually expanding its evil footprint in Afghanistan – an alarming development for the region including for India, Iran and China.

Afghanistan is the first country in the world where the global war on terrorism (GWOT) was launched after 9/11, and, thus it is primary for the international community to succeed in achieving what it had set out for itself. Though, much depends on the overall efforts of the US to ensure a “strategic reversal” for all its efforts does not take place. Equally, regional powers are important stake-holders for ensuring this GWOT to become a befitting example of international cooperation in eliminating the scourge of terrorism in this region and the world.

The US will have to take the lead in more ways than one. Firstly, it must unequivocally announce to all and declare its intention to stay put in Afghanistan till the successful culmination of Op Resolute Support and a stable and strong Afghan government is in place. Secondly, it must     chalk out, under the aegis of the UN, a five year Reconstruction and Development Plan for the whole of Afghanistan and pledge a few billion dollars for the hapless nation’s economic growth. Thirdly, it must endeavor to not only train but equip the Afghan National Army with the necessary military wherewithal, including aerial capabilities to sustain itself and acquire some offensive capability against the Taliban/IS/ other terror outfits. In addition, the US must get regional powers like Russia, China, Iran, India on board to carve out a unified strategy to ensure stability and peace in Afghanistan.  Getting Pakistan, an important player, on board for Kabul’s stability by getting it to subjugate its mischievous agendas in the overall regional interest will not be easy.

Meanwhile, India which has age-old civilization links with Kabul and is widely respected by the Afghans must continue with its ‘soft power forays’, assist in Afghanistan’s economic development and not get deterred by Pakistani terror acts targeting Indian civil and infrastructural assets in Afghanistan. As it must augment Afghan security forces military capabilities now with some lethal weaponry, India need not put any ‘boots on the ground’. India should also take the lead in getting powers of this region on the same page to bring politico-military stability to Afghanistan.


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2 thoughts on “Afghanistan: In the Grip of Spiraling Instability

  1. Sir, General Kamal Davar, it is a nice article from Indian point of view but fact remains that ISIS is not a Sunni organization. Most of its members are former Northern Alliance partners. More so, black flags and slaughter of Taliban in Afghanistan by ISIS exposes the whole story. Sir, you have not mentioned Indian role in raising, funding and arming ISIS.

    If we recall, an Indian engineer, Mehdi Masroor Biswas was arrested from his apartment by Bangalore City Police on the charges of violent tweets about the activities of militants belonging to the ISIS. Mehdi kept posting pro-Jehadi tweets from his Twitter account @ShamiWitness attracting lacs of potential Jehadi around the world. Interestingly, Indian agencies came into action only when British intelligence started their probe against Mehdi and the international media house also exposed the Indian ISIS sympathizer. ShamiWitness acted as a leading conduit of information between Jihadis, supporters and recruits.
    According to a foreign media report, ShamiWitness was active since July 2009, posted over 1.3 lac tweets and had over 1,78,00 followers. The tweets by Mehdi were seen 2 million times each month. This proves that ISIS is a brainchild of India on which practical steps were taken in 2009.

    We have also proof of RAW’s involvement in terrorism through European countries. Niaz Abdur Rashid was an Indian national who received military type terrorist training from India and had links with Al Qaida. After acquiring foreign nationality, he trained French and other foreign nationals on terrorist lines. He was a secular minded person, founded FPF with a military branch, claiming to help Muslims as well as non-Muslims in distress. He dispatched two French nationals to Pakistan to meet Al Qaida facilitator, Huzeyfa to whom he transferred money through Western Union. Pakistan in January 2011, leads were exploited, leading to arrest of a network of 7 terrorists led by Niaz Abdur Rashid. No doubt, ISIS is Indian backed.

  2. I feel there should be a clear introspection of India’s policy thus far of using its ‘soft power’ and it’s long historically close cultural relationship with Afghanistan. Secondly, India needs to look into the future as a regional power and clearly define it’s regional policy and it’s security, economic and cultural interests. We need to have a clear realistic multi-pronged approach of our own instead of reacting to events and actions by others or following others especially when their own plans and strategies have already not been able achieve any consequential success in making the region more stable and secure and they themselves are as they say confused and exhausted and have achieved little after expended massive resources and lost considerable treasure and blood.

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