India remains an integral part of Afghanistan’s steady progress in institutionalising peace, pluralism, and prosperity. Ties between Afghanistan and India go beyond the traditionally strong relations at the government level. Since time immemorial, people of Afghanistan and India have interacted with each other through trade and commerce, peacefully coexisting on the basis of their shared cultural values and commonalities. This history has become the foundation of deep mutual trust. Public opinion polls in Afghanistan confirm this, as well as the sentiment Afghans share about feeling at home whenever they visit India.
Partnership defines this fast shrinking century. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has increasingly become interdependent both in security and economic development terms. That is why countries no longer speak with the kind of zero-sum undertones, which they used to do in the last decades of the Cold War and the early years of the post-Cold War. At least in rhetoric, ‘win-win partnership’ has replaced the realpolitik jargon of the past century and increasingly guides states towards a new world order whereby every state should be afforded the opportunity to grow and develop alongside the rest.Continue reading
In complex post-conflict environments such as Afghanistan, security and development needs are intertwined. Without addressing both at the same time, it would be hard to ensure an environment that enables sustainable economic growth. In other words, bullets alone cannot remedy Afghanistan’s current situation. In fact, as former U.S. President Bill Clinton once said, “it’s the economy stupid,” something that is even more relevant in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.Continue reading
It is true that Afghanistan and Pakistan are fighting a common enemy in the Taliban and al Qaeda. But the nature of insurgency and engagement is quite different in the two countries. The Pakistani military is fighting an insurgency mainly against its own people. It’s different in Afghanistan: government forces are fighting both local militants and terrorist mercenaries that primarily infiltrate from, and are trained and equipped by, elements from across the country’s southeastern border.Continue reading
Almost twelve years have passed since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but peace remains elusive. Four interlocking challenges with internal, regional, transnational, and international dimensions impede Afghanistan’s stabilization and reconstruction. Each challenge facing Afghanistan feeds off the others, and together they have engendered a vicious circle that is destabilizing the country.
Lagging commitment on the part of donor nations has been a factor in giving the Taliban new life. According to a recent study by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an astounding 40 percent of the $25 billion in aid that has been pledged to fund Afghanistan’s democratization process has not been delivered. And of the $15 billion in aid that has arrived, roughly 40 percent has gone to paying salaries and fees for Western contractors and their employees. On top of it all, officials in Afghanistan admit that they cannot properly account for how $2.5 billion in aid was spent. It all adds up to a sad fact: the Afghan people are being short changed. It’s not surprising, then, that a fair share have grown disenchanted, and that this disillusionment has provided fertile ground in which a new generation of Islamic fighters can grow, and narcotics trafficking can once again flourish.Continue reading
Over the past ten years since 9/11, event after event in and outside Afghanistan has overshadowed the need to connect with the Afghan people and to deliver on their basic expectations for peace, justice, and prosperity. Even though NATO member-states increasingly appreciate the importance of public diplomacy at home and abroad, they have largely faltered to engage and listen to the Afghan people on how to secure Afghanistan.
Present and past peace negotiations between Pakistan and the Taliban in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas have coincided with increased cross-border terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. For example, terrorist attacks have risen by more than 40 percent in eastern Afghanistan within the first five months of 2008 compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the number of civilian deaths caused by cross-border terrorism rose to 638 this year, 62 percent more than the same period last year. Additionally, this past June saw the highest number of foreign military casualties with 46 coalition troops having died in clashes against the Taliban. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, however. During similar Pakistan-Taliban peace negotiations in 2005 and 2006, Afghanistan saw a 300 percent increase in cross-border terrorist incidents. At the August 2007 Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Peace Jirga Conference in Kabul, President Pervez Musharraf admitted that the problem existed.