Op-ed: What does the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan mean for Pakistan?

The security issue will rise up for all neighboring countries particularly for Pakistan for playing a major role in Afghanistan affairs, writes Abdul Shakoor Shah.

blank

9/11 and the US aggression in Afghanistan has affected the geopolitical dynamics of the region. Certainly the US withdrawal of it’s troops will also evolve the scenario. Afghanistan itself, and its neighboring countries will surely get its aftershocks. Neighboring countries have been tightening their muscles during the US-Taliban war to get their geopolitical and strategic hold in the country, but certain counter forces let none to get overhand. Russia, China, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the major undertakers in the arena.  After decamping Afghanistan, the US-Pak relations will turn increasingly transactional.

Implications for Pakistan

The US-Indian strategic ties to counter China will result in misalignment of the US interests in Pakistan and will surely lose its grip on the Afghan affair. To hew out a solution of Afghanistan excluding Pakistan was not possible for the US otherwise the US might have done it without Pakistan.

Read more: Taliban delegation visits Pakistan to discuss peace process in Afghanistan

Indian influence in Afghanistan is not much more than conspiracies against Pakistan and destabilizing Afghanistan for fulfilling it’s dream of Asian domination. It was crystal clear from day one that the US has not invaded to stay here but its interests undersurface were different. Provoking India against China will worsen the situation in Asia.

The security issue will rise up for all neighboring countries particularly for Pakistan for playing a major role in Afghanistan affairs.

The US is not concerned about South Asia as it does not have an immediate threat from the region. US is only dividing China’s attention to different borders by engaging China with India and announcing weapons for Taiwan. One of the strategies of US possibly would be to engage China on different fronts and China-Indian skirmishes are the curtain risers. The main part of the power war is being fought on economical and technological fronts. The core issue of Kashmir will linger on without any unusual change.  It is wise to join hands with neighbors rather than a far away ally who cannot even reach when needed.

Internal dynamics of both the countries will compel Imran Khan and Modi to show reluctance for launching channels of reconciliation

CPEC has ushered a new era in the region. It is being called the Asian Trojan Horse. A stable Afghanistan is in favor of all the Central Asian Republics. India cannot play its part in the Afghan affair as it is not in the good books of its neighboring countries because of its aggressive attitude toward them. India has always been trying to munch on the neighbors geopolitically and socio-economically. Pakistan will have a great political influence in its hands after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The US departure will engender a security vacuum for the region, even USSR and China will be negatively affected.

Read more: US thanks Pakistan for aiding in Afghanistan peace process

In the case of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s ties with Pakistan, Pakistan has always tried to keep balance but its inclination towards Riyadh has been stronger than Tehran. US will keep an eye out for the risk of nuclear proliferation from India to other non nuclear states which may interest US.

Tensions between India and Pakistan will worsen 

The tension over Kashmir between two nuclear powers of Asia will be intensified after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as it has been accelerated by abrogation of 370 and 35A. US’ offer of mediation over the Kashmir issue was not a purely friendly one but it was a part of smoothing the Taliban negotiation for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan which has proven to be a graveyard for the US and its allies. The US departure is also Trump’s political stunt for winning forthcoming presidential elections. The water war will be the future tussle between India and Pakistan in the coming year as India is constructing of reservoirs in the territory.

It’s hold in the region also looks grim after relinquishing Afghanistan, as Pakistan is not dependent on US regarding economy and military programs anymore.

Internal dynamics of both the countries will compel Imran Khan and Modi to show reluctance for launching channels of reconciliation. The security issue will rise up for all neighboring countries particularly for Pakistan for playing a major role in Afghanistan affairs.

Read more: Trump says wants US troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas

Pakistan has already paid a high price for being a major ally in the war against terror. In return the US has put certain hurdles for Pakistan, demanding “do more” which was wholly in the US’ interests rather than Pakistan’s. The partners are stepping ahead in their best interests, by facilitating the US for withdrawal and Pakistan for economical uplift and military aid. The US is not getting rid of Afghanistan on a win-win position. It has used its influence in FATF and IMF loans as well. But after the departure, US-Pak relations will take a different turn, as we have previously experienced.

It is the need of the hour to look for an alternative which will be in the best interests of the country. Even after the US departs, it will continue with Pakistan on an interests’ basis rather than rewarding it for being an ally during the war against terror. It’s policy of using economic pressure on Islamabad has lost its vitality now. The US-Pak bilateral trade and Pak-China bilateral trade are solid evidences. It’s hold in the region also looks grim after relinquishing Afghanistan, as Pakistan is not dependent on US regarding economy and military programs anymore.

Way forward

There is a dire need for a new block in south Asia revolving around mutually shared interests of major giants of the region such as Pakistan, China, and Iran. India will no more be a part of the new block as it has a confrontation policy against its neighboring countries. It is in the best interest of all the major countries neighboring Afghanistan to come forward for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. It will eradicate the future anticipated security issues in the region. The internal and external religious factors that have interlinks in Afghanistan may also change after US quits. There will be less India-China confrontation after the US withdrawal. India seems unaware of the saying “ It is folly to live in Rome and strive with the pope.” After the US departs, new geopolitical, social-economic and strategic ties will take place in the region.

Read more: US strikes target Taliban as fighting rages in Afghanistan

The author is an English professor and a freelance columnist. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 


blank