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A Pawn In the International Order


A.K. Pasha

THE AFGHAN WAR AND ITS GEOPOLITICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA
Edited by Salman Haidar
Manohar, New Delhi and Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 197, Rs. 425.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

For centuries the Afghan tribes and nationalities have lived independently and outside attempts to control have failed.  Foreigners are neither liked nor popular with the Afghans.  From King Amanuallah to King Zahir Shah small steps towards modernization were taken. Daud Khan’s coup in 1973 which overthrew the monarchy is a turning point in the Afghan history as the USSR (since then) tried to increase its influence. With the USSR sending its troops in 1979 to Afghanistan mainly to further its strategic aims, Moscow fell into the trap laid by the US. Due to heavy losses the Soviets withdrew and the veterans of war including Osama bin Laden—trained by the US helped to destabilize countries from Egypt to Philippines. Whatever little development had been achieved was destroyed during the war to evict the Soviets and in the subsequent civil war.  Pakistan helped the Taliban take over Afghanistan.  This gave a boost to militancy in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, with Pakistani and (read US) outside help. US interest in getting Central Asian energy via Afghanistan became known.  But the 11 Sept 2001 bombings led to US invasion of Afghanistan as Bin Laden was held responsible.  According to a Pakistani Muslim cleric, Osama bin Laden is a “symbol for the whole Muslim world, against all those outside powers who were trying to crush Muslims.  He is the courageous one who raised the voice among them. He’s a hero to us, but it is America who first made him a hero.” For at least 25 years Afghan society has seen terrible violence, destruction and loss of life.  The principal actors are the USSR, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, USA and others.  Unfortunately some of them instead of rebuilding the devastated Afghan society are still pursuing policies which are causing instability.      The Bonn conference held in December 2001 under the UN promised to bring stability to the war ravaged country.  Of course, presidential elections were held in 2004 and Hamid Karzai was elected; parliamentary elections were held on 16 September 2005, but many saw the elections as a step towards a democratic and stable Afghanistan.  But successful candidates in the latter elections included former Taliban members, fundamentalists, drug lords and mujahideen.  The 30,000 strong presence of the US and NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has brought some stability (4000 US troops will be withdrawn by spring 2006) but US policies are creating an unstable situation again with Hamid Karzai struggling to assert his authority ...


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