US’ new Afghan policy trumps prospect of peace

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If anything, Donald Trump’s new policy towards Afghanistan underlines a more or less exclusive reliance on the use of militancy force to set things right. But it almost entirely neglects the regional geo-politics, prevalent issues and the contending interests of the neighbouring countries which essentially keep the conflict going in the war-torn country. So rather than an Afghanistan-centric policy, US needed a broader regional approach to work for an integrated solution to the conflicts and the competing interests that in turn fuel the war in Kabul. But it hasn’t done so. Trump, on the contrary has gone against the objective assessments of the situation aand arrived at a self-interested and subjective idea of solution which is certain to aggravate not only the conflict in Afghanistan but also the regional rivalries, especially the one between India and Pakistan. Dividing the two countries since their founding is the festering issue of Kashmir.

Besides, ever since the war began in late 2001, regional geo-political has transformed. A new great game has begun with America and China as the two big players. On the other hand, there is a growing congruence between China and Pakistan in their approach to the regional problems. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has aligned the interests of the two countries. And this alliance is something that has made New Delhi uncomfortable. India has opposed the CPEC on the ground that it passes through the Pakistan Administered Kashmir which India says belongs to it by virtue of the accession treaty signed by Maharaja Hari Singh.

 

On the other hand, Washington’s priorities with India are no longer regional in their nature but their scope is the larger geo-politics. In recent years, the US-India engagement has also been about the remaking of the global power equation with India not only being recognized as a global power in its own right but also as a countervailing force to China, the world’s No 2 in waiting. It goes without saying that India’s 1.3 billion population with a value addition of a burgeoning middle class has become an ultimate attraction for the recession-hit and depression threatened west. Besides, India’s calling cards of democracy, secularism and an inclusive political culture have turned the country into an oasis of sorts in a region of dysfunctional countries, autocracies and Chinese communism.

 

Russia is the new entrant to this game. Having substantially recovered from a drastic power meltdown following the collapse of USSR in 1989, Russia has again thrown its hat in the ring. And it isn’t bound by its old equations and associations with the countries of the region, including India. Russia is now getting closer to Beijing and even Islamabad, a prospect that hasn’t been to the liking of New Delhi.

 

Afghanistan is at the heart of this changing geo-political map of the region. In fact, it continues to be the battleground. But Trump’s new policy hardly takes on board this complexity. The only way that this destabilizing situation can be effectively tackled is for the regional powers including India and Pakistan to get together and find a comprehensive solution. But it has to be a solution that also addresses the core concerns of the neighbouring countries and takes care of their interests.

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