Pakistan’s Strategy Post-2014 Withdrawal

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India’s interests in Afghanistan are definitely going to have security implications on Pakistan. After the withdrawal, India will increase her role in Afghanistan, and if it goes unrestricted, Pakistan will definitely have apprehensions that will affect peace in the region.

Post-2014 Withdrawal, by Marium Shah

Present Situation, Assumptions and the Role of Pakistan Beyond 2014

It is for sure that after the US withdrawal, the first few years – or maybe a decade – will be very challenging for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, as the situation will remain complex and volatile. Afghanistan will be stable as early as the political process is successful, there is a complete and smooth transition of power, and there is a proper structure and governing system. This success of political process again depends upon the success or failure of the reconciliation process.

Pakistan is suffering from militancy and bloodshed since more than a decade now, as the overall situation remains violent, full of turmoil, with ever increasing suicide blasts and terrorist activities. Pakistan is closely following the US withdrawal, as we believe that peace and stability in Afghanistan will definitely ensure peace and stability in the region and, specifically, in Pakistan. This piece will provide a brief commentary on what the strategy of Pakistan should be after the allied forces exit Afghanistan. Whatever it is that the policy makers are deciding and planning at this crucial juncture, we definitely cannot afford any misadventure this time.

During an interview with one of the academicians, it was concluded that Pakistan cannot afford to have an anti-Pak government in Kabul, as it will not be going to favor Islamabad in any possible way. After the elections in Kabul, if the new government is not pro-Pak, at least it should not be anti-Pak either, as it would create a polar environment in South Asia. A very pro-Indian government in Kabul will not have any positive impact on the region, as it will definitely create polarity and insecurity between two nuclear-armed neighbors. This time, when another superpower is exiting from Afghanistan, Pakistan needs to keep a friendly approach via strong diplomatic channels. Pakistan needs to invest in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Afghan people and help them rebuild their infrastructure. This is the time to regain their trust and invest in tangible and long term goals.

This time Pakistan should get involved in constructive engagement with Afghanistan, in order to avoid animosity, hatred and further issues. The role of Pakistan should not be more than that of a facilitator, and it should support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solutions and processes. Border management should be a priority this time, in order to avoid cross border movements and activities. This should be thoroughly focused, both by Afghanistan and Pakistan, in order to curb and fight militancy and terrorists. Pakistan should not support any specific ethnic group in Afghanistan; the stance should be more than neutral and endorse what the Afghans decide for themselves. Both the countries should try to build a mutual relation based on trust in order to cooperate with each other.

 

Pakistan should also devise some pragmatic strategy for the return of the Afghan refugees. At the moment, the situation in Afghanistan is not stable and how it will shape up in the near future is also quite predictable, as the Afghan National Security Forces are yet not able to stabilize the country. Though they have been trained and given a chance to participate in operations, but still they are not able to handle a sudden shift of power after the withdrawal. Besides, the green-on-blue attacks (personnel of Afghan National Security Forces killing NATO/US/Allies) also created apprehension and discomfort among the NATO and US forces.

 

The fear of ‘an unstable, chaotic Afghanistan’ is still there and dominates the viewpoints. This will be the most likely situation if the peace and reconciliation process fails or breaks down. Both Pakistan and India need to understand the sensitivity of the situation rather than jumping again to fight using their proxies. Pakistan’s concerns are valid at their own place and to resolve those overt and covert issues, there should be a dialogue process. At the present moment, Pakistan is not in a position to lead another misadventure nor can it afford further conflict and violence in the region. Any sort of violence, conflict or regional skirmish will further worsen the already wrecked existing scenario, and it will be devastating for Pakistan’s economy, security, national unity and image. So, there should be no vacuum left in Afghanistan for some external power to fill, as that will deteriorate the condition. Through some acceptable power sharing formula, all groups and factions should come and try to resolve the issue. The Taliban have agreed to negotiate and it is very likely that they will be having some place in the government. The Taliban should understand and accept the Afghan Constitution and law, in order to be accepted locally.

Pakistan should try to keep the Afghan turmoil in Afghanistan; it should not cross the border and affect Pakistan as it affected for the last many years. Pakistan should not act as a villain; rather a friendly cooperative approach will have a way forward. Another academician shared that this time Pakistan has to play its cards very effectively, with great calculations, in order not to repeat the old mistakes. Pakistan should not be more than a ‘facilitator’ in the peace process which is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. For our internal issues and crises, we need to have a very sound, well-articulated security policy. Secondly, after the withdrawal, Pakistan has to watch out for external threats even more carefully and vigilantly on both the eastern and western borders.

Presently, no regional players seem to be in a mood of prolonged and consistent violence and conflict, as the region in general has severely been affected during the last decade. We noticed that during the last decades, instability and chaos in Afghanistan, somehow, created more instability and anarchy in Pakistan. Pakistan has emerged as the worst victim of this ‘global war on terror’. Besides material and human sacrifices, its name and image has been badly destroyed in the last years, which in return affected internal stability, economics and social life.

 

Highlights

Pakistan must not exceed her role beyond being a ‘facilitator’ in the peace process in Afghanistan. Pakistan should maintain an unbiased and friendly approach with all the factions in Afghanistan. Pakistan should not be an actor or selector, but should rather let the Afghan people decide for themselves what is suitable for them.

An anti-Pak government in Kabul will not be in Pakistan’s favor as it will keep the tension and vulnerability high in the region. India’s interests in Afghanistan are definitely going to have security implications on Pakistan. After the withdrawal, India will increase her role in Afghanistan, and if it goes unrestricted, Pakistan will definitely have apprehensions that will affect peace in the region. Both India and Pakistan have interests in Afghanistan, and it is for sure that Pakistan cannot afford to have an anti-Pakistan government in Kabul, if in any case it is not friendly.

Pakistan should get actively involved in reconstruction and rehabilitation in Afghanistan. Pakistan should be engaged in tangible and sustainable assistance to the Afghan people. Pakistan has to change its foreign policy and national security strategy in the coming days; militancy should not be a tool of the foreign policy of Pakistan. There has to be a civil-military consensus on matters like Afghanistan and security. There needs to be a proper border management as the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan creates a lot of confusion and inability to tackle with the militant groups effectively. The border needs to be stable, in order to provide stability to the whole country and to manage insurgency. So, in short, with an exit of another ‘superpower’ from Afghanistan, Pakistan really needs to think on pragmatic terms that suit her interests and also maintain peace and stability in the region.

 

Comments

comments

is researcher and a regular contributor at PKKH. She is a Human Rights, Youth and a Peace Activist and has done her MPhil in ‘Peace and Conflict Studies’ from NDU. She can be reached at ms.fortress@gmail.com and she tweets at @battlehawk_

Discussion9 Comments

  1. The issue isn’t what Pakistan wants. The real issue is what Pakistan can offer. Since the 1970s, the only thing Pakistan has offered to Afghanistan is a very blatant attempt to make it into a subservient state.

    As long as Pakistan can get over that mentality, stop supporting Taliban and stop spreading lies about Indian involvement…. like the fictitious “dozens of consulates”.

    Instead, Pakistan needs to emulate Indian involvement in Afghanistan by building schools, roads, bridges and hospitals…. Help train the nascent Afghan Civil Service to be impartial and unhampered by tribal and religious affinities and help them grow into another regional giant instead of relegating them to the basket case where Pakistan seems to be heading towards

  2. Pakistan is getting paranoid by its own propaganda. The issue is that Pakistan keeps failing to understand and recognize the sovereignty of Afghanistan. As a sovereign nation Afghanistan is free to pursue its own foreign policy in its national interest. Does Pakistan have similar fears when Iran or China build relations with India? Its rightly commented above by Indian that Pakistan wants Afghanistan as its subservient nation and not as a sovereign nation.
    Its a very absurd thinking that there should be a pro-pak govt. in afghanistan. Any Afghan govt. will have favorable relations with Pakistan if both nations share similar values in spirit, letter and deed.

  3. ASEEM, from your argument, which appears shallow and at worst pedantic, may I remind your finite memory, that your own baseless argument can be applied to Zionist-controlled Indian. It is a sad fact to highlight, but India, itself has lost any credibility it had and has become another ‘subservientt-slave’ to the extremist Zionist Israel. If India is such an honourer of good relations, why does it fail to uphold the right of ‘self determination’ for the people of ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir?’ Furthermore, why does it threaten Pakistan – a sovereign nation – almost on a daily basis? If your baseless argument is true, then it is safe to conclude the Indian intentions toward Pakistan, if Pakistan’s intentions are that of having a subservient Afghanistan.

    Pakistan Zindabaad, Paendabaad
    ALLAHU-AKBAR!

    • K2: India is not an Arab nation to be tamed by Israel. India’s stand on Palestine is principled and it stands. However, India pursued an arab policy towards Israel until the 1980s while a few muslim nations had relations with Israel. Now as India grows to be an economic power, she pursues a more independent foreign policy and diplomatic relations with Israel is part of it. If US, Europe, Russia and China can not control india’s independent policies then how can Israel? Yes, one pauses to think that what kind of defence do the Israelis have that a tiny nation with just 7 million population that cant be spotted on a map is able to bully its arab neighborhood… thats what explains India’s defence tie up with Israel.

      With regards to Kashmir there are similar situation in Balochistan, Tibet, Uyghur, Srilankan Tamils etc in the vicinity. A principled stand would call for self determination in all these areas and not just one. India’s stand is very clear that democracy does not give right to secede and the world including china agrees with it.

      If Pakistan stops supporting, harbouring, arming and infiltrating terrorists in India, she will have no problems with but Pakistan shelters terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar etc. etc. Ever since infiltration of mujahideen has been stopped, the terror incidents have reduced in Kashmir.

      India respects soverignty of all nations and that is reflected in India’s foreign policy of non-alignment, panchsheel and Gujral Doctrines. You can google to find details and our policies and practies are based on principles. India has no military interest in Afghanistan else it would have agreed to supply weapons when the latter requested India. India is more interested in economic development as poverty and dependancy compromise with sovereignty.

  4. ASEEM, either you are ignorant or you’re a typical Indian intentionally failing to recognise that Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan – always was & always will be, inshaAllah. On the other hand, Indian Held Kashmir – I.O.K., is a state which ought to have been given the right to Self Determination & according to the UN law, devious India should have carried out a referendum – plebiscite which it has failed to honour the Kashmir people with. Are you sincere in your arguments or are you, as mentioned earlier, ‘a typical Indian’ with a mindset of enslaving those who should have had an independent state a long time ago? Should India continue to subjugate various people, e.g. of Kashmir, Assam, to name but a few, then Zionist-India has set its own destruction.

    Pakistan Zindbaad, Paendabaad
    ALLHU-AKBAR!

    • India recognizes Balochistan as an integral part of Pakistan. India recognizes Tibet as autonomous region of China. India does not recognize any separate Tamil Eelam in Srilanka. Thats India’s official stand and every citizen respects that.
      However, what we read everyday about Balochistan is very appalling. Pakistani govt. uses its airforce against its own (?) Baloch people, the missing baloch youth and govt atrocities remind of pre 1971 east pakistan. If you know the history, you would be aware that Balochistan had offered to merge with India in 1947 but India advised them to merge with Pakistan. Similarly, Pashtuns too were unhappy to join Pakistan. Badshah Khan had chided Gandhi that you are leaving us with wolfs… But India has never created any trouble for Pakistan in these areas.

      Internally, we believe in One, United India, Akhand Bharat. Indian constitution treats all its citizens equally regardless of their religion, ethnicity, language or culture and gives equal rights to all. Pluralism is bound to have differences of opinions and there is plenty of cushion in our consititution that we are proud of.

      India believes that Kashmir is legally an integral part of India and their is dispute only over wrongful and illegal occupation of parts of its territories by Pakistan and China i.e. POK and Aksai Chin. As regards to plebiscite, it is Pakistan that has refused to implement the preconditions of plebiscite i.e. vacating its army from POK. It was India which asked for plebiscite in kashmir but since Pakistan did not oblige, India withdrew its pledge and the matter is closed now. Like a handful of Kashmiris some Tibetans, Uyghurs, Balochs all are also demanding freedom. Does Pakistan support all such freedom movements are selfishly selective??? Thats why I say Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir is not based on principles and hence it does not have the world support.

      You should perhaps read more about Assam. ULFA is dead and Bodoland is more of an issue of illegal immigration of muslims from Bangladesh. Also, zionism is referred in case of jews and there are very few jews in India but people of all faith have a right to profess their religion as an equal citizen.

      I am a typical Indian who values democracy, secularism and right to have a difference of opinion.

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