Afghanistan
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News Analysis |

The Taliban fired 20 rockets at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, hours after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg arrived, unannounced in Kabul for talks with the Afghan officials. The Taliban spokesman has said that the target of the rocket barrage was the former four-star general, James Mattis.

Afghanistan so if the US implores India to ramp up efforts in Afghanistan, Islamabad will pull the plug on the US, something which is not in the interests of the region

Mattis, by virtue of being the defense chief, was the architect of the new South Asia policy which was announced by President Trump, last month. The Taliban have vowed to make the country a graveyard for foreign occupiers. The attack is a signal that the Taliban will continue to resist the US and Afghan forces. The brazen attack has yet again shown that the military might of the US, NATO, and Afghan forces have neither hampered the war-fighting prowess nor the spirits of the Taliban.

Read more: COAS warns enemies and urges the world to “do more”

However, given that all these realities were ignored while ratifying the troop-surge, it was expected that Ghani, Mattis and the NATO chief would say anything else than what they did say today. President Ghani called upon the insurgents to lay down arms but at the same time called India, Russian and other regional players to confront them.

Talking exclusively with GVS, eminent US scholar on South Asia Michael Kugelman said the reason why a paramountcy is given to Indo-US defense relations is that the US sees India as it best bet

This brings to the fore the belief that a modest addition of 3,900 troops can turn the tables in Afghanistan, something which was repudiated yet again today. There is also the hope that the Taliban can be militarily weakened to an extent that it brings them to the talking table; something which is still seen as difficult given the pre-condition set by the Taliban to flush out foreign forces from the country. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said: “With NATO’s help, Afghan forces have come a very long way and we will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghan Security Forces.” He also appreciated the induction of more troops under the aegis of the new South Asia policy.

James Mattis said the coalition will not allow al-Qaeda, Haqqani and other insurgent groups to gain a firm footing in the country and that all efforts will be made to stabilize and secure Afghanistan. He added that the new strategy provides Pakistan a real chance to fight insurgents. He also stressed upon the need to talk openly with Pakistan on the alleged provision of sanctuaries to terrorist groups.

Read more: American ‘DO MORE’ policy exposed

While Afghanistan and the US have once again called upon Pakistan to do more, the latter’s strategic ties with India will elicit the apprehensions of Islamabad

While Afghanistan and the US have once again called upon Pakistan to do more, the latter’s strategic ties with India will continue to elicit apprehensions in Islamabad.

The deepening ties that the US defense has with India are seen as a crutch to its security interests, and both have pledged to confront the common enemy in unison. Mattis was in Delhi before visiting Kabul. Without naming Pakistan he said: “There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens anywhere.” Both countries also agreed to further strengthen defense cooperation with each other.

Talking exclusively with GVS, eminent US scholar on South Asia Michael Kugelman said the reason why a paramountcy is given to Indo-US defense relations is that the US sees India as it best bet in the region.

“It’s very clear that from the perspective of security interests in South Asia, India sees more eye to eye with the US than does any other country in the region. This is one reason why there’s been such a big, bipartisan push in Washington for deeper US-India defense ties.”

Read more: Dissecting Kabul’s “do more” demand.

There is also the hope that the Taliban can be militarily weakened to an extent that it brings it on the talking table, something which is not possible given that the Taliban vows to flush out foreign forces from the country

When asked about what Mattis will try to extract out of India, short of boots on the ground, Kugelman was mindful of what India could do.

“Mattis is realistic and understands that it’s unlikely that India will ramp up security assistance to Afghanistan in a big way. What he and the Trump administration will hope is that India will maintain and increase its training program for the Afghan security forces. There may also be a hope, though not necessarily an expectation, that India will start sending major arms supplies to Afghanistan. It’s certainly a possibility.”

Any of the above-mentioned roles will further strain the fraying Pak US relationship, besides bringing Islamabad more closer to China and other regional players. However, it is poignant to mention Pakistan will resist any attempts to lessen Indian influence in Afghanistan so if the US implores India to ramp up efforts in Afghanistan, Islamabad will pull the plug on the US, something which is not in the interests of the region.

Comments & Discussion