Newspaper Article 15/10/2014
Afghan-US Security Agreement
Afghanistan and the US have signed a security agreement. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the election campaign supported the stationing of the US troops on Afghan soil, in post-2014. President Ghani after assuming office moved ahead with the plan. “As an independent country … we signed this agreement for stability, goodwill, and prosperity of our people, stability of the region and the world”. President Ghani also called on the Taliban to join the peace talks. He said: “Our air space will be under our own control. International forces will not be able to enter mosques or other holy sites.” The Taliban called the security agreement a “sinister” plot by the US to control Afghanistan. In a statement Taliban said: “We tell America and its salves that we will continue our holy jihad until our country is liberated from the claws of savage Americans”. Former President Karzai did not agree over the security deal with the US. He thought the war was not fought in the interest of Afghanistan.
Formally known as the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the security deal has prolonged the US stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years. Current strength of US/NATO troops in Afghanistan is 41,000. The troops were to withdraw from the country by end of 2014. As per the BSA, a new mission “Resolute Support” will be deployed in Afghanistan. This new contingent will comprise of 9,800 US troops and about 3,000 soldiers from Germany, Italy and other NATO countries. These troops would train and equip the Afghan security forces, counter the Taliban operatives in the country, and would also target the remnants of Al-Qaeda. The agreement also provides administrative and legal cover to the US troops; they have been exempted from the jurisdiction of Afghan courts. The BSA shows the US military’s future role in Afghanistan. In Iraq, the troops withdrawal created a vacuum and plunged the country into further chaos. In line with the ground realities, the poor law and order situation and the fragile economy, the country is vulnerable to chaos. The Afghan National Security Force-ANSF (strength 350,000) is also not that strong to protect the Afghan citizens and to counter the Taliban insurgency. However, the Afghans have always resisted foreign troops on their soil. In the War on Terror (WoT), locals viewed the US/Coalition as an occupational force, and during the 13 years war, the Coalition failed to win over the local’s support. A number of resentment cases were reported within the Afghan Army, in which the Afghan soldiers took up arms against the foreign troops. The clause in the current security agreement, under which the US troops are given immunity from prosecution under Afghan law, could face criticism. Meanwhile, can it be speculated that the threat of a Taliban takeover is completely nullified? or the Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has been curtailed to a large extent? The Taliban have denounced the security agreement. Comparing with the US/Coalition’s 13 years in Afghanistan, the troops could not defeat Taliban. Still the Taliban influence exists in the country, not only within the Pashtun belt, but also in the Tajik and Uzbek populated areas as well.
Seen from Pakistan’s angle, the country supports a peaceful/stable Afghanistan. The reference made in the BSA with regards to targeting of Al-Qaeda remnants indicates that the US would continue the drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal areas beyond 2014. Another point of concern for Pakistan is the Indian ingress in Afghanistan. Since the US led WoT, Indian ingress in Afghanistan has reinforced manifold. This has been a cause of instability in Pakistan. US supports Indian enhanced involvement in Afghanistan (and the region). On the contrary, in view of President Obama “the sources of Afghan instability are linked to Islamabad’s conflict with New Delhi, at the heart of which is Jammu and Kashmir”. India under the garb of WoT has been trying to de-stabilize Pakistan. Likewise this recent Afghan-US pact, would also be employed by India to continue with its simmering campaign against Pakistan. To counter such moves, Pakistan has to be pro-active in its approach, it should try to have cordial ties with the West, try to re-build trust with Afghanistan and also forge partnership with China and Russia.
Amna Ejaz Rafi