Friday, 1 September 2017

Afghan Policy : Old Wine In New Bottle?

US President Trump's speech in Afghanistan stirred mixed reactions in the world. Some in Afghanistan felt relieved including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who stated he was grateful to Trump for this affirmation of support for our efforts to achieve self-reliance. Although for some, it meant more war, more killing & more destruction like former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who stated in an interview, “There was not a single word about the peace effort. It was all talk of war, and we have had enough of that.”

Speaking about reactions, the speech sure enough perturbed Pakistan when Trump announced his strategy to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan.

Calling Pakistan ‘safe havens for terrorist organizations’, he further stated, “Pakistan has sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.” Although he stopped short of cutting off military aid, as some Pakistani elites had feared.

Many Afghans praised Trump for his tough talk on Pakistan, which they see as a major source of instability and violence.

 The speech included an unexpected swipe at India too.

“We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.” Trump said.

Kudos to Trump’s speech writers’ adroitness on the drawing of surprising nexus between Afghanistan cooperation to the trade imbalance between the United States and India.

It’s favourable for both countries to consolidate on Afghan policy, but snide remarks like “billions of dollars in trade” is surely a big no go.
India has already given $3 billion in assistance to the war-torn nation sine nation, not to mention the country’s new parliament building, more than 2,500 miles of roads, dams & hydropower plants which were built by India.

But Indian officials surely liked one aspect of Trump’s speech: his denunciation of India’s archrival Pakistan.

Now it seems that Pakistan is baffled by Trump’s request for India’s help in Afghanistan. As part of their defence, the Pakistan officials have alleged that Indian influence is the prime reason for the instability and insecurity in Afghanistan.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to mitigate the perplexity of Pakistan, refuted the Pakistani perception about India's growing influence in Afghanistan.  "Like Pakistan, Afghanistan is an independent country and has the right to have relations with anyone. India is our long-time friend. But I assure Pakistan that no one can use our soil against Pakistan and any other country," stated Karzai further adding that “…Pakistan & Afghanistan are not enemies but twins.”

1 comment:

  1. Well written.. thoughtful analysis of President's speech.