By Sajjad Shaukat
Failure of the first Bonn Conference in 2001 was its inability to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban militants. But the US-led India and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been playing their collective game, pursuing their interests. Particularly, US divergent interests resulted in disharmony and intensity of conflict in Afghanistan at the cost of other western countries or NATO.
This time, second Bonn Conference is being held in Bonn, Germany on December 5, 2011. Despite the request of some western countries, especially, America and German to reconsider the decision, Pakistan has boycotted the Bonn meeting as a protest against unprovoked and deliberate air strikes by the US-led NATO Jet-helicopters on Pakistan Army outposts, which killed 24 troops on the early hours of November 26.
It is noteworthy that the Istanbul Conference was hosted by Turkey on November 3, 2011. Besides Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey, the representatives of some other countries, EU, NATO, and the United Nations also participated. The meeting was aimed at such issues as transition in Afghanistan, Afghan security, reconciliation process, stability in that country etc. The strong opposition compelled the US to drop the original Istanbul draft that proposed the formation of a contact group, which also comprised India which does not share a border with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had emphasised the need for strengthening the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and Shangai Cooperation Organisation to address security and economic issues of the region including Afghanistan. On the other hand, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while following US continued blame game against Pakistan called for “dismantling terrorist safe havens” in FATA. In the past, London Conference was also held with the similar purposes to stabilize Afghanistan.
Now, the Bonn meeting is aimed at bringing together Western and regional leaders to map out a strategy for Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign forces in 2014. So the conference agenda as declared by German Ambassador Steiner is the transfer of responsibility for security to the Afghan Government, political process of national reconciliation, integration of former Taliban fighters—country’s various population groups, renunciation of violence and terrorism, and respect for the Afghan constitution including human rights issue. But the stability of Afghanistan is the key aim in the context of the stability of the entire region, to which all regional countries will contribute.
Despite this, US covert interests will thwart the real aims of the other western countries in connection with the Bonn Coference. In this respect, America has already ensured that it will keep its military bases in Afghanistan permanently to advance the interests of its western allies for a stable Afghanistan. But under this pretext, US seeks to fulfill its multiple secret interests.
Since the US-led NATO forces occupied Afghanistan, stiff resistance of the Taliban militants which created unending lawlessness in the country has made it a most conducive place for the US, India and the Karzai-led regime to play clandestine strategic game against Pakistan, China and Iran.
Under the cover of the US-led blame game against Islamabad regarding cross-border terrorism, secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have well-established their networks in Afghanistan from where well-traned militants are being sent to Pakistan, who commit various subversive acts like suicide attacks, bomblasts, targeting killings etc. besides supporting separatist elements of Balochistan where similar subversitve atcs continue. In this context, Pakistan’s spokesman Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas and Interior Minsiter Rehman Malik have repeatedly disclosed that all the insurgents are being sent in the country from Afghanistan. Even Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has remarked that foreign hands are involved in weakening Pakistan. Now by ignoring the dangers of its new strategy to directly strike Pakistan’s tribal regions, and violation of its sovereignty, clearly prove that US wants to create instability in Pakistan.
America which has perennially been boasting the defence of India, is determined to make it super power of Asia so as to counterbalance China. In this regard, China’s strategic cooperation with Pakistan, particularly in the development of Balochistan’s Gwader seaport irritates both New Delhi and Washington.
In fact, with the tactical assistance of the US, New Delhi which had given shelter to the Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama and his militants has been playing a key role in assisting upsurge in the Tibetan and Muslim areas of China. Recently, US President Obama also met Dalai Lama so as to indirectly encourage insurgency in China.
On october 5 this year, India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement. However, apparently, it is open strategic agreement, but secretly India wants to further strengthen its grip in Afghanistan not only to get strategic depth against Islamabad, but also to destabilize Pakistan.
US has always accused Pakistan of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. While, with the backing of America, India and Afghanistan, in the last few months, heavily-armed insurgents from Afghanistan’s side entered Pakistan’s region intermittently, targeting the security check posts, killing 100 personal of Pakistan’s security forces. Meanwhile, air strikes by the US-led Jet-helicopters, ground shelling and drone attacks on Pakistani soil have also continued intermittently. These attacks resulted in more terrorism, provocating the militants in Pakistan. However, US-led India and Israel are deliberately creating instability in Pakistan as the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.
It is mentionable that cultivation and smuggling of drugs is the major source of income for India and Karzai government. So money earned through drug-smuggling is utilized in buying weapons, being dispatched to the foreign agents and the insurgents in Pakistan.
America knows that if it does not maintain its military presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces, Karzai regime and New Delhi will not be in a position to maintain their hold in wake of the successful guerrilla warfare of the Taliban.
Here question also arises that if well-trained NATO forces, equipped with sophisticated weaponry failed in coping with the Afghan Taliban in the past ten years as to how US will succeed in fighting them. So America only wants to keep its military presence with the help of India to destabilize Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and China. And its other purpose is to reach the energy resources of Central Asia. American contingency will further bring about instability in Afghanistan as Afghan militants will continue their suicide attacks and ambush assaults on the US bases and newly-trained Afghan soldiers. US is so enthusiastic in obtaining its secret goals that even it has ignored the corruption of Afghan government as Karzai regime depends upon corrupt officials.
It is of particular attention that during her latest trip to Islamabad, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasised on Islamabad to help “Taliban to enter negotiations in good faith” including the Haqqani militants. She also agreed with Pakistan’s stance that “launching new military operation in North Waziristan does not suit Pakistan’s situation.” Ms. Clinton also admitted that there was no evidence of ISI involvement in bombing of the American embassy in Kabul. Meanwhile, after reaching Washington, Ms. Clinton said that cross-border infiltration from Afghanistan inside Pakistan must stop.
Quite contrarily to the latest incursion by the US on Pak Army outposts show that its aim was to provocate Pakistan to boycott the Bonn Conference, while discouraging it to start reconciliation process with the Afghan Taliban. Nevertheless, it is duplicity on the part of Washington. Besides, Afghan insurgent leadership has also refused any dialogue with America unless the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from that country.
Notably, India has illegitimate interests in Afghanistan; hence it is creating instability in Afghanistan which favours Indian secret goals. On the other hand, Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, which is not possible owing to Indian presence in that country. Therefore, Pakistan has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan.
Except US, other NATO countries, related to Bonn Conference agenda should realize that unlike India, Pakistan shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with Afghanistan. There is a co-relationship of stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is essential for their global and regional interests. Therefore, their interests demand stability in Pakistan which has a key to the stability of Afghanistan. Particularly, participants of the Bonn Conference must not only incline towards Afghanistan in relation peace, stability and aid, but also pay equal attention to Islamabad.
Nevertheless, the US is playing a double game with the other western countries of the Bonn Conference, which want peace and stability in Afghanistan including other objectives as already mentioned. Consequently, US cover interests will thwart Bonn Conference aims.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations