Afghanistan’s Struggle Against Militancy

The recent developments in Afghanistan clearly indicates that the militancy is on increase in Afghanistan and peace and security has become a far cry in the country

Aug. 16, 2018, 9:03 a.m.

Afghanistan a country of immense strategic importance and a country witnessing the history of invasions in the Indian subcontinent in the pre-colonial phase for thousands of years is passing through a critical phase of democratization, peace and stability. Afghanistan’s tragedy is that despite installation of a democratic regime in the country under the leadership of Hamid Karzai decades back it has not seen a single day of peace. The war of militancy has not only caused internal threats and insecurity but it has also caused external interference and resulted in a state of war within the country.

The strategic Importance of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a gate way to West and Central Asia on the one hand and links South Asia with the Arab world on the has been a country of strategic importance historically. With the rise of Central Asia as independent states and the great game in the region, its importance has increased tremendously. Afghanistan has been important for India in the history for several regions. The invasions on India from across the Hindu Kush and Khaiber all were witnessed by this great historical region.

Afghanistan played the role of a buffer state during the British rule over India. After independence the geo-politics of the South Asian region changed drastically. Pakistan emerged as an independent state. The legacies of partition became a bone of contention in India- Pakistan. The border line between Pakistan and Afghanistan known as Durand line became controversial. The bordering region of PakistanBaluchistan and Pakhtunistan soon indulged into ethno-regional movements, demanding autonomy. It had its implications on the bordering Afghanistan region, as both sides of the border were Pathan dominated.

The Super Power Game

The importance of Afghanistan increased in the post colonial era with new developments taking in the region. The strategic importance of Afghanistan attracted super powers to take interest in the region. Actually after the end of the British colonial rule a power vacuum had come up and the super powers, keeping in view their vested interests became active to indulge into the internal affairs of Afghanistan. One another important factor was that the Afghan society was highly fragmented and the local tribal chiefs were involved into mutual hostility and conflicts. The Soviet Union then United States of America and after that the rise of Taliban all have tried to realize their own interest. The western powers did not take interest in the development of Afghan society and economy. The internal conflicts and violence increased with the rise of Taliban. Afghanistan’s return to democracy was an important development but it was not an easy task to fight against Talibanians.

Militancy on Increase

The Taliban has continued its strikes against the democratic forces which they believe are backed by the western forces. The militancy in Afghanistan has resulted in the presence of western forces in the region on the one hand and the internal insecurity and violence on the other. The militancy has caused killing of large number of people and loss of government property. In fact, internal war has become a culture of Afghan society. The militancy has also encouraged arms and drug trafficking in the region.

The recent strikes by Taliban in Gazni has resulted in killing of hundreds of people and also the militants. Gazni is an important region of Afghanistan linking Kabul with southern region of the country. The disruption of the northern army base camp in Chenaya is a serious issue in terms of the increasing strength of the militants. The Afghan armed forces backed by US forces has strike heavily against the militants in Gazni and established control over it but the Taliban militants have continued their war. It clearly shows the kind of situation Afghanistan is facing at the moment. Recently Taliban militants claimed that they killed 266 members of government forces. They withdrew from some areas after putting several government buildings on seems that the militants are not prepared to leave the Gazni area despite government attacks on them. Perhaps they know it very clearly that the armed forces of Afghanistan do not have sufficient strength to fight against militants.

The recent developments in Afghanistan clearly indicates that the militancy is on increase in Afghanistan and peace and security has become a far cry in the country.

Role of Pakistan

There are several evidences to indicate that the Taliban militants are backed by Pakistan. It is a fact that Pakistan is the epic center of terrorism particularly the religion based militancy. The social fabric, instability in the Pakistan- Afghanistan border region and the disturbed political relations between the two countries has prompted Pakistan to export militancy to Afghanistan. It is believed that Pakistan has been supporting militancy in Afghanistan. A leader of the Awami National Party Afrasiab Khattak quoting a report said that Pakistani fighters have been killed or arrested in the recent clash in Gazni between militants and government forces. If it has some truth then it is clear that the Pakistan is backing militant forces in Afghanistan. Tariq Shah Bahrami, Afghan Defence Minister has also been quoted recently stating that Pakistani, Chechen and Arab fighters were involved in the attack on Gazni.

Pakistan itself is an instable and insecure country. Terrorism has become a force to be reckoned with in Pakistan. The nexus between terrorism, fundamentalism and army is important in promoting the terrorist forces. There is a close linkage between the terrorist forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan is not in a position to control the terrorist forces. So it can not resist the terrorist and the army nexus supporting militants in Afghanistan. One has also to understand that the instability and violence is also a serious threat to Pakistan as well, particularly its north west province is vulnerable to disturbances from across the border in Afghanistan.

Implications for India

Afghanistan is a country of geo-political significance for India. Though India lost direct geographical link with Afghanistan after the Chinese occupation of the Aksai Chin area of India. Nevertheless, it provides access to India in Central and West Asia. The ambitious projects like gas pipe line from Iran depends on peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is also important in India’s cooperation with the Central Asian countries. India has been supporting democratic governance in Afghanistan. India has played a vital role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. India its have lost many of its officials, engineers and technicians in militant attacks in Afghanistan. The cross border terrorism has been a serious issue for India. The continued militancy in Afghanistan also has implications for the South Asian region. The region is already termed as an unstable and volatile region and the Afghan militancy has added to it.

The world powers are concerned over the militant war in Afghanistan as it forms part of great game in the Central Asian region. There are many who believe that militancy has increased in Afghanistan after withdrawal of NATO forces from there in 2014. Does it mean that the solution of militancy in Afghanistan lies in the relocation of combined military forces in the reason? It appears that this would even not provide a lasting solution. What is needed is the strengthening of democratization process in the country. Taking the Afghan society from the clinches of tribalism and strong tribal and ethnic cleavages through development and modernization is needed. The regional perspective is also important. Unless terrorism in the region is not abolished peace and security in Afghanistan will remain a distant dream.

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Prof. BC Upreti

Prof. Upreti is a former director of South Asia studies centre University of Rajasthan Jaipur and senior fellow of Vivekanand international foundation and Indian council of social science research

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