Over hallmark of the US-led war in Afghanistan has

 

Over the past 16 years of the invasion by the United States
and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the situation inside Afghanistan
from security perspective  is
deteriorating. It’s still a major concern for the International community.
Despite the many efforts and resources amid at bringing peace and stability to
Afghanistan, the result has been scrimpy at most. The most substantial factor
that causes the greatest problem in Afghanistan is a lack of proper planning,
Shifting policies, inattention to geopolitical realities and over-reliance on
military power without the necessary attention development and civilian
assistance plans. The current US-NATO approaches have little or no chance of
success unless a broad comprehensive approach, including a humanitarian plan.
Some analysts suggest the role of regional and neighboring countries in
Afghanistan shows that a viable solution could be found on the basis of a
dialogue and regional cooperation.

 

Introduction

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It
says while many would agree that any warring army needs to know its enemy,
there seems little acknowledgment of the fact that a successful negotiating
process also require a deep knowledge of the parties in conflict, of the way
they function, and of their intentions and aims.1
The war in Afghanistan has entered into strategic stalemate where none of the belligerents
has been able to gain military victory in the conflict. More than five years
into the drawdown of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops,
security situation and violence in Afghanistan remains perpetual. But regional
actors and Afghan government needs to shift their focus on security situation
inside Afghanistan. The resilience of the Taliban against the decade and half
long military operations by NATO explicitly manifest the failure of the
International community’s  Afghan
strategy. The hallmark of the US-led war in Afghanistan has been ascendency of
the military option rather a peaceful one. 
Contrary to establishment of norms. Political means are only used to
supplement the military strategy.2   

With
waning global focus on the Afghan imbroglio the conflicting interests of
various external and internal players continue to undermine peaceful settlement
of the issue. Though, majority of the neighboring countries are willing to
support an Afghan led peace process for the settlement of the issue. The
growing strength and sway of Taliban in Afghanistan have led the international
community to patronize different initiatives over the past years aimed at encouraging
to the join the Afghan government or discouraging the spread of insurgency.
These efforts included programs such disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration (DDR 2003-2006), United Nations supported Afghanistan New
Beginnings program (ANBP) and its successor the Disbandment of illegal Armed
Groups (DIAG 2005). The Afghan government of the time launched the
Strengthening Peace Program in 2005 known as PTS, a few ad-hoc approaches at
the local level were also undertaken by Afghan government officials and the
British at Musa Qala in Helmand province; and at the end a more formal
Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP)3
was launched. But unfortunately all these peace initiatives have done little to
stabilize Afghanistan and non could pursue any meaningful engagement for
sustainable peace.  These program worked
more effectively on lower level than on higher level and corruption was also
considered to the main reason behind the failure of these programs.

The
strategy of finding a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict has never
been contested; nor the vitality of political means compared to the military
option ever lost its appeal among policy-makers. The debate has always been on
the modalities to be followed, the ultimate aim of the talks with insurgents,
the end-condition sought, identification of suitable environments for talks and
the role of various actors. 4  furthermore, . There has been considerable
reluctance within the administration about reconciliation as a whole, and
whether or not to deal with insurgent leadership. There has also been a
disagreement between the U.S. and NATO allies on the issue of reconciliation,
with certain countries like the UK being more open to the idea of political
negotiations and wanting to take it much further and possibly playing the role
of a mediator. 5

 

The IS-PK factor

 Fostering an affiliate in Afghanistan and
Pakistan serves several of ISIS’s strategic objectives. ISIS’s grand strategic
aim is to rule all historically Muslim lands in a caliphate that wins an
apocalyptic war with the West. External affiliates support this objective by
giving ISIS strategic resiliency, facilitating its military expansion outside
of Iraq and Syria, and legitimizing its claimed status as a trans-regional
caliphate. ISIS likely prioritizes expansion in the greater

Afghanistan/Pakistan
region (also known as Khorasan) because of the region’s historic and religious
importance. The modern jihadist movement originated in Afghanistan.

Islamic
religious texts state that the army of true believers will gather in the
Khorasan before the apocalypse  ISIS
requires presence in the region in order to actualize its literal

interpretation
of apocalyptic scripture. Operations in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region
also enable ISIS directly to challenge al-Qaeda (AQ),6
its rival for the leadership of the global jihadist movement. AQ’s senior
leadership is based in the border region and contests ISIS’s claim to

hold
political and religious authority over all Muslims.

ISIS’s
Wilayat Khorasan maintains an overt military and social presence in Nangarhar
Province in eastern Afghanistan, where it controls numerous villages as of
November 20, 2015, specifically in Achin, Deh Bala, Bati Kot, Shinwar, Kot and
Chaparhar districts. The

geographic
spread of ISIS’s control in Nangarhar reflects the organization’s intent to
control local communities and establish Shari’a governance in the greater Afghanistan-Pakistan
region. ISIS may not seek to attack and control district centers in Nangarhar
as Taliban factions have elsewhere in Afghanistan. The district centers are
generally small and pose few obstacles to freedom of movement because they can
be circumvented by road7.
Instead, ISIS’s next goal in Nangarhar is likely to attack the provincial
capital of Jalalabad, particularly U.S. and Afghan government forces based in
the city. ISIS also likely aims to control Highway 7 between Jalalabad and
Torkham Gate, the border-crossing to Pakistan, in order to tax goods
transported on this main artery. ISIS has also demonstrated its intent to attack
Kabul, roughly 150 kilometers away from Jalalabad. ISIS already has claimed
multiple explosive attacks in and near Jalalabad and one attack in Kabul since
September 2015 and it continues till today. 8

 

ISIS
gained support in Afghanistan and Pakistan shortly  after it declared its “caliphate” in June
2014. A contingent of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban or
TTP, formed ISIS’s most important support base in the region. The TTP
splintered rapidly after the death

of
its leader Hakimullah Mehsud in November 2013. Disagreements over leadership
decisions and peace negotiations with the Pakistani government prompted several
factions to defect from February 2014 onward.9
The TTP’s spokesman Shahidullah Shahid privately offered his allegiance to ISIS
several times during this period. Shahidullah may have maintained links to a
senior member of ISIS’s predecessor al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which could have
encouraged his decision. Shahidullah  10publicly
announced his allegiance to ISIS in October

2014,
along with the TTP’s regional commanders for Orakzai, Khyber, Peshawar, Hangu,
and Kurram agencies. Regional commander of Orakzai Agency Hafiz Saeed Khan had
been the front runner for TTP leadership after Hakimullah Mehsud’s death. Saeed
Khan likely defected

to
ISIS because of his failure to secure leadership of the TTP. The other regional
commanders may have joined due to ties with Saeed Khan, or due to pressure from
Pakistani military operations. The Pakistani government launched the Khyber I
operation days before Shahid’s announcement. The operation sought to drive
militants from Khyber Agency to the Tirah Valley, which lies south of Nangarhar
and is near the operating areas of most TTP regional commanders who pledged to
ISIS in October 2014.11

 

20
terror groups are operating in Afghanistan12
and they need to be defeat with regional alliances as they pose threat to whole
region including CARs, Russia, and China. Although ISIS and many other
fundamentalist group claims that they are practicing religion in purest way
which in reality are against any religion, moreover fundamentalist see
religious texts as inerrant guides to life. These fundamentalists terror group
are not only the problem of Afghanistan, its regional issue and shall be dealt
with regionally, the threat level is higher than we expect, whole of the
regional countries need to work on one policy of eliminating the risk inside
Afghanistan.

 

Contribution of the regional actor
to  Peace, US, China, Russia, India and
Pakistan  

 The Trump administration’s Afghanistan policy review
provides an opportunity to confront a central truth: No strategy, even with
more troops, will succeed without reducing Pakistan’s support for the Afghan
Taliban and the affiliated Haqqani network that is responsible for some of the
deadliest attacks against the United States and its partners in Afghanistan.
After more than $30 billion in assistance to Pakistan since 2002, it is
understandable that critics of the current United States policy toward Pakistan
advocate a more coercive approach: slapping further conditions on assistance,
imposing sanctions or listing Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.13

The
trouble is that such “sticks” are unlikely to change Pakistan’s behavior,
because its existential concerns are tied to broader regional priorities. To
get Pakistan to alter its approach in Afghanistan, the United States must
understand and address Pakistan’s strategic anxieties. The Pakistani military,
in particular, is moved foremost by their country’s rivalry with India. They
have always feared a scenario in which Afghanistan offers India a second base
from which to squeeze Pakistan. Leaders in Islamabad also worry that India’s
support may embolden their counterparts in Kabul to forcefully challenge the
validity of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and reassert Afghan claims on
Pakistani territory. While most of India’s aid to Afghanistan has been
economic, India has stepped up security assistance in recent years, including
military equipment, to bolster the Afghan security forces against the Taliban.14
Other Indian efforts, like financing for Iran’s Chabahar port that allows
landlocked Afghanistan to bypass Pakistan, have further stoked Pakistani
concerns.

The
Chinese and Pakistan approach to Afghan affair is extremely important. The
tripartite mechanism in Beijing this year has encouraged Afghan government to
talk to Taliban. The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China supports
” an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process”  The Chinese Foreign Minister further stress
on different areas of the cooperation, connectivity and prosperity of the both
Afghanistan and Pakistan during the conference. In addition, Afghanistan
foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani showed willingness to improve the security
of the region with the help of China and Pakistan. As he said that terror,
threat remains around the region and his country is ready to cooperate with
regional countries especially China and Pakistan.  The Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif,
further appreciated the tripartite mechanism for a stabilized bilateral
relations between Afghanistan-China-Pakistan. He expressed that his country
shared a long border with Afghanistan and have a same culture. 15

engagement
with Taliban is crucial at this moment both for Afghanistan and China however,
Pakistan being accused of supporting terrorism16
in Afghanistan have realized that regional connectivity plays more significant
role in bringing prosperity to Pakistan rather backing terrorist groups in
Afghanistan. The spillover impact of terrorism had much higher consequences for
Afghanistan and Pakistan. Providing logistics support to terror groups is
low-priced than comparing a Counter-terrorism strategy which is costly,
Afghanistan and Pakistan paid a heavy price for counter-terrorism strategies.
Now it is a time for both the countries to demonstrate a strong commitment to
the prosperity of the whole of the region with the assistance of China.

 

Since
the push for One Belt one Road project which was announced by Xi in his visit
to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013. The plan of (OBOR) then fervor Chinese
businessmen and Chinese policy makers inside CPC. Even though, Due to lack of
harmony in the region and a new (US National Security Strategy Policy) in South
and Central Asia made China more inclined to her neighbors. However, in the new
National security policy the US has accused China including Russia of being a
big challenge to the American power, influence and interest attempting to
deteriorate American security and prosperity around the world.17  China’s fast growing fame indeed undermines
the US power throughout the world; China has been actively engaged in different
parts of the globe and more specifically with its neighbor countries. The
Chinese peaceful rise and non-interference theory appears to be successful and
most favorable to the regional countries. Further the Russian has joined the
Chinese to make Asian region as their spare of influence.

  After the fourth meeting of the Quadrilateral
coordination Group which presented desolate approach to direct talks among
Afghan Government and the Taliban, however at the same time a top member of
Chinese military visited18
Kabul on February 29, 2016. General Fang Fenghui, a member of China’s Central
Military Commission (CMC) and the chief of CMC staff met with top Afghan
leaders including the president, Chief executive officer, National Security
Advisor, and Minister of Defense. It was for the first time in history of
China-Afghan bilateral relations; General Fang agreed to give 480 million Yens
to Afghan security forces, he also focused on jointed cooperation on terrorism
which threatens Chinese projects such as CPEC and OBOR. During Fang meeting
with President Ashraf Ghani he expressed19
that Afghanistan is immensely important for Chinese economic belt, but also
focused on terrorism which is consider be a (big threat) for such projects
initiated and hence China is stressing the fight against terrorism. Sunni
Uyghur militant groups near the Afghan-Pak border has claimed responsibility
for small numbers of attack in China, the most predominately Sunni Uyghur group
the East Turkistan Islamic movement which is based in porous region of
Afghanistan and Pakistan claimed responsibility for server bombing in 2008
however the authority denied the terrorist involvement and also for the attack
in Kashgar in July 2011 that killed three dozen people.20

A
number of terrorist have also expressed and willingness to support
ideologically the East Turkistan Islamic movement. In July 2014, Islamic state
leader Abu Baker Al Baghdadi said in his speech to rally for the global causes
of Muslims “the Muslims rights are forcibly seized in China, India, and
Palestine”. Also in 2013 Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri 21endorsed
the right of militant to fight the Chinese in Xinjiang. With these such
development Militant is on the rise in every part of the region especially Asia
and particularly Afghanistan.

On the Russian point. Despite increasing
cooperation with NATO, Russia has criticized the alliance’s strategies in
Afghanistan. The Kremlin has focused its criticism on three areas: NATO’s plans
to maintain military bases in the region, its lack of cooperation with regional
organizations such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and its overall priorities in
counterterrorist operations. The issue of Western military presence came under
a spotlight soon after Russia withdrew its objections to Uzbekistan and
Kyrgyzstan’s decision to grant NATO’s request for cooperation. When Defense
Minister Sergei Ivanov stated in October 2003 that Russia expected the

West to withdraw from the region as soon
as its mission in Afghanistan ended, that feeling was already widespread within
the political establishment.22

 

Russian concerns clearly go beyond Islamic State and the drug
trade. It sees the residual U.S. presence in Afghanistan as a latent threat. In
a lengthy interview with Turkey’s Andalou Agency, Ambassador Zamir
Kabulov, Russia’s top Afghanistan hand, expressed concern over a long-term U.S.
military presence in the region, stating that there is no “clear-cut answer” as
to why the United States “wants land bases in Afghanistan.” Kabulov claimed
that the present U.S. infrastructure in Afghanistan gives it “two to four weeks
to redeploy up to 100,000 soldiers on the same bases.”23

 

Conclusion

Given
the array of deep-seated domestic, regional and global issues surrounding the
Afghan conflict, Afghanistan’s transition to a peaceful end-state is expected
to be a complex, lengthy, multi-faceted process. Nevertheless, the specter of
ever-increasing instability in the region, caused by continued insecurity in
Afghanistan, has created incentives at local and

international
levels to pursue a more comprehensive and consistent strategy to end the
conflict.

While
different parties to the Afghan conflict see the solution through the prism of
their security and geopolitical interests, none can win in the absence of a
restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan. The US and its allies
including neighboring countries will not be able to secure their vital
interests in the region if Afghanistan continues to be embroiled in increasing
instability. This necessitates the emergence of a shared vision for a peaceful
end-state in Afghanistan and building indigenous capacities to achieve this
goal.

1 Antonio Giustozzi, “Negotiating with the Taliban
Issues and Prospects,” The Century
Foundation (New York, 2010), www.tcf.org.

2 Ajmal Abbasi, “The Afghan Peace Process: Strategic
Policy Contradictions and Lacunas,” Ipri
1, no. 1 (2016): 60–74.

3 Matt Waldman, “‘Golden Surrender?’ Discussion Paper
03,” Afghan Analysis Network, 2010,
http://www.operationspaix.net/DATA/DOCUMENT/4792~v~Golden_%0ASurrender__The_Risks_Challenges_and_Implications_of_Reintegration_in_Afghanistan.p%0Adf.

4 Abbasi, “The Afghan Peace Process: Strategic Policy
Contradictions and Lacunas.”

5 Sajjid, “Peace,” 2010.

6 William McCants, “Misappropriating the Black Flag,” Quilliam Foundation, 2014.

7 Harleen Gambhir, “ISIS in Afghanistan,” Study of War, no. July (2015): 1–9.

8 Ehsan Popalzai Euan McKirdy, “ISIS Suicide Bombing in
Kabul Kills Dozens,” CNN, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/28/asia/kabul-attack-intl/index.html.

9 Bill Roggio, “Pakistani Jihadist Groups,
Lashkar-I-Islam Merge into the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan,” Long War Journal, 2015, 20.

10 SITE Intelligence Group, “TTP Spokesman Shahidullah,
Five Officials Allegedly Pledge to IS,” 2014.

11 Harleen Gambhir, “ISIS in Afghanistan.”

12 Abdul Wali Arian, “20 Terrorist Groups Fighting
Against Afghan Government,” Tolo News, 2017,
http://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/20-terrorist-groups-fighting-against-afghan-government.

13 MOEED YUSUF HADLEY, STEPHEN J., “For Peace in
Afghanistan, Talk to Pakistan,” New York Times, 2017,
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/opinion/afghanistan-pakistan-taliban.html.

14 HADLEY, STEPHEN J.

15 Meng Qingsheng, “Chinese FM Urges Afghan Government to
Talk to Taliban,” CGTN, 2017,
https://news.cgtn.com/news/314d544d34637a6333566d54/share_p.html.

16 Peter S. Henne, “Trump Says Pakistan ‘harbors
Terrorists.’ The Real Story Isn’t so Simple,” Washington Post, 2017,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/28/trump-says-pakistan-harbors-terrorists-the-real-story-isnt-so-simple/?utm_term=.b9dc9538e021.

17 US Adiminstration, “National Security Strategy”
(Washington, n.d.), http://nssarchive.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017.pdf.

18 China military online, ” Afghan President
meets with Fang Fenghui”, March 2, 2016,  
http://english.chinamil.com.cn/news-channels/china-military-news/2016-03/02/content_6937875.htm

19  ?????,” ?????
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Feb 29, 2016,http://president.gov.af/ps/news/66862

 

20 Tania Branigan,” China plays down terror link as bus explodes”, July 28, 2008, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/28/china1

 

21 South China morning post,” Al-Qaeda leader
Ayman al-Zawahiri sets out his first jihad guidelines”,  September 18, 2013, http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1311795/al-qaeda-leader-ayman-al-zawahiri-sets-out-his-first-jihad-guidelines

22 Andrei P. Tsygankov, “Russia’s Afghanistan Debate,” Problems of Post-Communism 60, no. 6
(2013): 29–41, https://doi.org/10.2753/PPC1075-8216600603.

23 Arif Rafiq, “Russia Returns to Afghanistan,” Warrior,
2017,
https://scout.com/military/warrior/Article/Russia-Returns-to-Afghanistan-101457966.

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