Home South Asia Afghanistan Strategic depth doctrine is a ‘Dead Horse’, says FM Qureshi

Strategic depth doctrine is a ‘Dead Horse’, says FM Qureshi

Shah Mahmood Qureshi has categorically stated that Pakistan only aims to establish sincere cordial relations between both countries and shunned the strategic depth concept, the reason for discord and mistrust between Islamabad and Kabul.

Qureshi

News Analysis |

Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has stated that Pakistan supports an all-out sustainable peace in Afghanistan which is not tarnished due to internal fighting of Afghans. “Pakistan’s perspective on Afghanistan is clear, we support an Afghanistan that is at peace with itself, and at peace with its neighbors,” Qureshi said at the opening speech of a peace summit called Lahore Process.

The summit aims at building a consensus over the pre-requisites of long-term peace in Afghanistan under the key domains of health, economy, trade and people-to-people contact between the citizens of both countries. The conference was attended by more than 40 Afghan delegates.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed on the importance of peace in Afghanistan as the national security of Pakistan is reliant upon it.

Since Afghanistan is undergoing an extensive exercise involving the insurgent Taliban, the government of the United States discussed the prospects of political Afghanistan post-U.S withdrawal. The process is currently encountering a stalemate due to different objectives which both the Taliban and the United States are aiming at. And hence, the discussion has not moved to other key matters, which Lahore Process is incorporating so far.

One of the major issues between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan is the repatriation process of the Afghan refugees who are living in Pakistan for the last 4 decades. Although a considerable no. of migrants have moved back to their country of origin, there still exists a substantial population of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Death of a Strategic Depth Doctrine

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed on the importance of peace in Afghanistan as the national security of Pakistan is reliant upon it. He went on to say that after Afghanistan, Pakistani forces and people have sacrificed the most due to instability in the region. It was here where he categorically stated that Pakistan no longer subscribes to the Strategic depth doctrine and is wholly committed to promoting peace in Afghanistan as per the aspirations of its people, via democracy.

Read more: Afghan peace, a shared responsibility

“Let this be absolutely clear: No one in Pakistan subscribes to any notion of the so-called ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan. We must not let anyone resurrect this dead horse to advance their propagandistic aims or seek to sow the seeds of misunderstanding between us and our Afghan brethren. We wish to see a friendly Afghanistan, governed by elected leadership, representative of the aspirations of all Afghans”, he said.

What is Strategic Depth?

It refers to Pakistan’s political and strategic involvement in Afghanistan for the objective of securing strategic leverage in Afghanistan in case of a conflict with arch-rival India. The center point of the strategy was to ensure that Pakistan’s friendly forces remain in control of power reins in Kabul, which would eventually allow Pakistan to utilize the country for defensive purposes against India which has been a constant national security threat for Pakistan.

For better diplomatic connections between both Pakistan and Afghanistan, it is important that the people of Afghan are allowed to decide their own future.

The term has its roots during the soviet-afghan war in which Pakistan and CIA supported Afghan Mujahedeen to thwart the Soviet war machine. But the secondary objective for Pakistan became to maintain a power center in Kabul which will remain inclined to its own security objectives in the future.

However, after the US invasion of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, India got the opportunity to deploy its assets in Afghanistan under the pretext of development projects and since then a proxy war has been waged against Pakistan via non-state elements. Strategically India has been able to extract the leverage out of lawless Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and for years the country witnessed bloodshed across it.

Read more: U.S-Pak high-level delegation met to discuss the Afghan peace process

As the Foreign Minister himself stated that Pakistan supports an Afghanistan, without any ulterior motives, which is governed as per the aspirations of its own people. For years there has been an air of distrust between both the countries and it has led to hostile elements exploiting the cynicism for their own vicious objectives. For better diplomatic connections between both Pakistan and Afghanistan, it is important that the people of Afghan are allowed to decide their own future.

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