Referred to as an interminable and protracted war, the ongoing US-led war in Afghanistan is becoming a stalemate with no end in sight in the near or long term. Since the violence and bloodshed have been the most common phenomenon in an already war-torn region, the war is perhaps an inevitable part of the life being led by the Afghan people for the past decades, while any attempt to bring peace in the region is bound to meet rabid resistance owing to the conflict of interest among the concerned stakeholders who seem to be at odds with each other, following their own agenda or list of priorities under the guise of peace-building efforts.
Despite all its military might, the US war in Afghanistan, which has seen two phases (Operation Enduring Freedom 2001–2014 and Operation Freedom's Sentinel 2015 to the present), is yet to achieve a face-saving end, while Donald Trump’s particular style of achieving results is making it even more unlikely to bring the Afghan war to an acceptable end not only for the United States, but also for its key partners and other countries in the region. The US’s arm-twisting tactics against Pakistan to ‘do more’ are at its limits and the recent aid suspension to its tested ally has not paid off.
The US State Department, for instance, has informed Congress that the US government’s decision to suspend its security assistance to Pakistan has so far failed to achieve its objective: forcing Islamabad to change its policies. “There certainly hasn’t been any change that we would consider final and irrevocable. They have engaged in discussions with us, but there hasn’t been a sufficient amount of action yet that we would be lifting that suspension of security assistance.” say John Sullivan, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.
Commander US Central Command (Centcom) General Joseph L Votel has candidly accepted the fact that Pakistan happens to be an important US ally when it comes to maintaining peace and security in South Asia and to ensure peace in the Afghan region, it is important that the strategy to bring the Taliban to the table be implemented speedily.
“We are very busily implementing our South Asia strategy, which is designed to bring the Taliban to the reconciliation table and end this very, very lengthy conflict (in Afghanistan),” says General Votel.
Short of options
With its flawed approach towards Pakistan, the US seems to be short of options at the moment. However, the initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has emerged as a silver lining for the war-torn region. This is because China wants to extend the $57 billion CPEC to Afghanistan, and as per Afghan media, after the inclusion of Afghanistan, the name of the corridor will be changed into China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CAPEC), as part of China’s ambitious BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond.
This is the time the Afghan leadership should come forward and decide how long a troubled Afghanistan can afford the ongoing war as well as the consistent loss of innocent lives.Syed Jawaid Iqbal
According to Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Kabul could become part of economic activities going on in the region and, for this reason, China is ready to play its role for resumption of a peace process for bringing stability in Afghanistan. “The recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan are our concern and we are ready to play a role for resumption of the peace process. Both Pakistan and China are close neighbors and we desire a peaceful Afghanistan,” says Yao Jing.
Since both Pakistan and Afghanistan have been uneasy neighbors ever since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, China has tried to promote talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, the diplomatic ties between both the countries have been severed, as Afghanistan accuses Pakistan for supporting Taliban militants who have been fighting the U.S. forces to limit the influence of India in Afghanistan.
Speaking after the first trilateral meeting, which was held between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wang said the economic corridor connecting China, Pakistan and Afghanistan could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development the war-torn region needs desperately. He said Afghanistan has an urgent need to develop and improve people’s lives and hopes it can join inter-connectivity initiatives.
“So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” according to Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador.
If actualized into action, the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan will serve a long way in bringing about the much-needed stability in Afghanistan and will positively impact the socio-economic condition of the Afghan nation. However, it needs a paradigm shift the way the U.S. wants to see things taking place in the region, which seems unlikely at the moment, considering the ground realities. This is the time the Afghan leadership should come forward and decide how long a troubled Afghanistan can afford the ongoing war as well as the consistent loss of innocent lives. In Afghanistan, it is likely that the road to peace will now passing through CPEC.
President & CEO of perception management company, CMC, Syed Jawaid Iqbal is a well-known author and public relations guru. Karachi-based Jawaid Iqbal has represented Pakistan at several regional and international forums and has been Chairman, Pakistan Chapter of the Colombo-based South Asia Media Association. He is associated with several social welfare organizations and contributes to leading newspapers. He has also presented TV talk shows on current affairs. In 2003 he founded the Society for Global Moderation – a private-sector think tank, strengthening tolerance, inter-faith harmony and democracy. His book “On Record” was released in 2004. His twitter handle is @Jayeye49.