Saturday, March 17, 2012

Afghanistan - Winding Up

Afghan Parliament

For US, exiting from Afghanistan is becoming more and more complex after the recent unfortunate events. As the time passes the bargaining power of US vis-a-vis Taliban is drawing a curve of steep decline. The recent incident of killing 16 people including kids by a US soldier only added the complexity and shattered the hope for any further nation building process - if there is any.

Afghan always taught many lessons to the strategic thinkers - to the British, to the Soviets and now to the United States. This also shows how difficult for a country – even if it is mighty US - to transform the victory acquired through air strike to a ground one; especially in a country where the culture, religion, values are totally different. This is not medieval times, so the methods applied in those days to bring the restive cities under control are no longer valid. At the same time strategic thinkers are yet to devise working plan for bringing peace to an invaded country.

Japan and Germany after WWII are examples, but in those days peace came after two devastating wars and the faith was not involved in the war. But Afghan is totally a different theatre, people can quite easily think that an external country belongs to a different faith is trying to implement values which are dear to them. In many cases the stress will be on the word faith rather than on the word - 'values'. Nation building process won't happen here if you are not committing for an indefinite period, ready to suffer more causality with enough economic war chest - options not easily digestible at home.

Najibulla regime lasted for three more years after the pull out of Soviet troops. How long the current regime will last? Three main things for any regime to remain at helm is legitimacy, power and honesty. Out of this, first two are very much critical, and the third one is an essential factor. So where is Afghanistan in this scale?

Even though there are allegations of wrong doings current Afghan government rose to power through elections, so we can say it is legitimate. But in the second case its score is bad. Will Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) will be able to replace NATO forces? Will it be able to fight Taliban insurgency and Warlords at the same time? Questions which are yet to be answered!!! Administration's worst rating is coming in the third front. Allegations of corruption are widespread and people tend to believe less and less on Afghan government in any cases related to honesty.

If no miracles happened an inglorious exit is waiting for NATO forces. But if we are analysing the facts without any prejudice we can see that US in fact achieved their goal and objectives.

Current Al-Qaida is a far cry from its (In)glorious days, its former chief  - US's primary target - is no longer alive. US eliminated many key figures, who can become a potential threat in the future. Even though in a limited form, NATO and US were able to achieve co-operation from the Russian dominated Central Asian Republics (CAR). Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and Manas Airbase many not be a great achievement in paper but a fairly good piece to show.

Drone - the fear in the sky - able to generate panic among the militants even in the previous safe heaves like inaccessible terrains of Af-Pak tribal belts. Its precision strike already took many key militant leaders off the field. Apart from this Afghan borders Iran, military presence in Afghanistan helps US keep a very close watch on Iran. Whatever be it is, US and its allies are leaving behind a regime selected by the people with some kind of adjustments with Taliban.

So even if they leave today, according to me it’s a successful exit for US as far as their goals and objectives are concerned. If they are able to bargain a air/army base close to Iran border or Af-Pak tribal belt it’s an added advantage.

For India

Soon India can find Taliban leaders sitting in the Parliament created using Indian funds.  We don’t have much reasons to be happy. Unfortunately, India centric militant organizations are not a threat to west, making them the last priority in the list...


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia (Edited later to suit for this article)

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