It’s not going to be easy
Fears regarding the post Nato withdrawal situation in Afghanistan continue to worry the US as well as the countries in the neighbourhood. The increasing pressure by the US on Pakistan to reopen the Nato supply routes is one indicator. The subsequent visit to Islamabad by the Chinese FM and Putin’s special envoy on Afghanistan indicates their keenness to evolve a coordinated approach on the issue. The matter is likely to figure in bilateral talks on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Beijing next week where Pakistan, Afghanistan Iran, Turkey and India would all be present.
While underlining that he had come with a message to further strengthen the strategic ties with Pakistan, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi underlined the need on the part of Pakistan to improve its friendship and co-operation with its neighbours and the world. This obviously meant improving bilateral relations with India. President Putin’s special envoy Kabulov indicated a convergence of views between Russia and Pakistan on regional issues, Afghanistan being the foremost. Meanwhile Indian ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, told the Atlantic Council that India was concerned about the future of Afghanistan after the Nato pullout. She called for greater coordination with the United States on Afghanistan. Speaking at the Brookings Institution, former Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha advised Nato to stay the course in Afghanistan until the Afghan army is in a position to meet the Taliban threat.
As things stand Russia, China and Iran are wary of long term Nato presence in Afghanistan while Pakistan and India suspect each other of trying to control Afghanistan and influence its policies. What needs to be done is to work out a rational solution of the post withdrawal problems. For this, all stakeholders have to ensure that no power in the region or outside is allowed to turn Afghanistan into its client state through continued military presence, economic aid or terrorist groups. This alone can guarantee peace in Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Pakistan needs to urgently resolve the issue of opening the Nato supply routes to allow the US and its allies to concentrate on creating a viable Afghan security network before final withdrawal in 2014 as they simultaneously wrest more areas from the extremists.