Sunday, July 25, 2010

NATO Withdrawal and the Fiction of Resolving Afghanistan through Diplomatic Conferences

The Hindu repeats its prescription for an immediate withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan and an international conference leading to a pledge of non-interference in Afghan affairs along the lines of the July 1962 Neutrality of Laos declaration as the way forward. I repeat what I had written in an earlier post about why this suggestion is contrary to Indian interests in Afghanistan and why such conference pledges cannot be enforced and will bring neither peace nor stability to that state. One need look no further for proof than the Laos declaration itself which failed to halt the civil war in that country. The suggestion that such a declaration may "pave the way for an Afghan solution to nation rebuilding - one that will hopefully reject the Taliban" is bewilderingly naive and ludicrous. If the Taliban could have been stopped through declarations, it would surely have happened a long time ago.

The suggestion serves Pakistan's interests which has assiduously nurtured the insurgents as numerous reports including the most recent one in today's NYT make clear. A withdrawal of foreign troops may very well happen with the souring of the public mood in the NATO member countries but it would be a greater disaster if done precipitously as The Hindu asks for. Any definite departure date will only prepone the civil war which is likely to ensue in the aftermath. In fact, with Obama's 2011 drawdown date and the conference's aim to transfer all control by 2014, there are real signals that parties have begun to prepare for this eventuality.

This is not to say that attempts to reconcile the divergent interests of Afghanistan's neighbors and India should not be attempted but that hard task is not going to be made any easier by a withdrawal. Quite the contrary. This very difficult task may be, if at all, slightly easier with NATO troops still firmly entrenched in the region.

Presently, it appears that Pakistan does not perceive a democratic Afghanistan to be in its interests and believes it can prevail with the help of its proxies. Any solution to the conundrum must squarely address this perception either by altering it through diplomatic persuasion or by raising the costs of pursuing efforts towards this end. The former route has been the preferred choice but has yielded no results and besides a few drone attacks, there is little political support for the latter. At the moment, there is no real hope of a change in that deadlock which means the fate of Afghanistan will probably be once again determined in future by force. Hopefully, India too is preparing for a post-NATO Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether India will go back to supporting the erstwhile Northern alliance along with Iran and Russia in any civil conflict or will attempt to find allies among the Pashtun groups this time.


Xinhua Ram said...

Did LiC ever care for Indian interests or the interests of the free world? Tell me something new.

bimonsub said...

How EFFFFF did THIS happen???

cbcnn_Pilid said...


The left liberal, antiwar and anti-US "imperialism" agendas have all coalesced. Indian journalists of leftist persuasion more often than not take their cues from these "people's movements" with insufficient regard to its consequences to our country. For example, nowhere in that edit does it say what this will mean for India. Though this post is somewhat repetitive, it is important to expose that.

Xinhua Ram said...

N Ram's Afghanistan

Is Nandini Sundar around?