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The Road towards Peace and Stability of Afghanistan

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Afghanistan is a state which is viciously suffering from Chaos and Instability. The people of Afghanistan have been in the anguish of Wars since long, in a recent decade, it is being estimated that around more than 10,000 innocent people have been killed. Consequently, religious and ethnic hatred has been increased. Adding more to injury, corrupt regimes has become the very reason for unemployment. The precious natural resources are being plundered by the external forces. At the societal level, around 10 percent of the population is a drug addict. The rate of smuggling has been increased to 87 percent. Surely, Afghanistan cannot rehabilitate without the economic, educational, cultural, social and political prosperity.

In such an adverse situation, the National Stability of Afghanistan seems uncertain. So, there is dire need to address the major stumbling blocks and bargain an ultimate consensus among belligerents. In Afghanistan, long war failed to determine any military victory among belligerents.

On one hand, the Taliban wanted the complete evacuation of foreign forces out from Afghanistan to end this unfruitful war and to stop all types of sophisticated weapons including chemical weapons. They wanted the assistance of friendly countries like Russia for reconciliation. In addition to that, they wanted to set free all their prisoners from blacklist so that the Taliban can also live freely.

On another hand, currently, US cannot fulfill their demand as the US wanted to monitor the activities of China, Pakistan, Iran, and Russia in the most important region. The US wanted to give India the status of regional power in the region and wanted to counter China. If Russia will be successful to eradicate the stumbling blocks in the Afghan reconciliation process then It will be a great failure for the USA. As Russian are eager to find some common grounds for peace. In Moscow Conference, Russian Foreign Minister said that it would be a good option that Government and Taliban negotiate directly and put their stance on table talk. We will assure the Taliban, that their land will not be exploited any more by external powers. If China and Russia become successful to find a peaceful way of resolution then the strategic role of India and US in the South Asian region would be badly affected.

The new era of Peace Talks has been initiated after a violent period of war.  Taliban’s are in a strong position and bends US Grand Strategy in Afghanistan to be flexible for Peace Talks.  More than 70 to 75% of the land is practically under Taliban’s while the Afghan Government is fighting to take control of 132 districts. Chairman of US Joint Chief of Army Staff General Joseph Dunford said that the Taliban “are not losing” in Afghanistan, and much more need to be done to bring peace to the war-torn country but Taliban proved to a strong opponent. Dunford said that while there would never be a “military solution” on its own to bring peace to Afghanistan. it is in their interest to negotiate a political solution to the crisis with the government in Kabul

It is the reason that principled state like US, Afghanistan (Afghan Taliban-Afghan Government) and Pakistan along with regional players India, Iran, China, Central Asian States, Middle East, and Russia are extremely vigorous to play their role in Afghan Reconciliation Process. The vulnerable situation of Afghanistan is not only confined to its territorial boundaries but It is an alarming fact for the entire region. Peace is relative process and Peace in Afghanistan is essential for regional prosperity and its geographic factors keep Afghanistan in the limelight of Great game of powerful countries. The growing influence in India Pacific region instigates the US and other states to keep their boots in the ground.

US Deputy Foreign Minister Alice Wells, Mike Pompeo visited South Asia uninterruptedly. The reason behind their visits is none other than the safe exit from Afghanistan and political settlement.  NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that political negotiations are needed to end the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan.  He said that the continued fighting in the war-torn country was “pointless and counterproductive. It is important to prevail stability under Afghan governance.

The flexible approach of states working on Conflict management, resolutions models and diplomatic tools resulted in different direct and indirect Talks between these states for peace-making. It included high official level meetings: Kabul Process, several bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and multilateral efforts, Murree Peace Process, Russia-China-Pakistan Trilateral Dialogue, US direct Talks with Taliban at Qatar, Moscow Conference in which 11 countries participated including Taliban, US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad meetings with different states, US high official’s various visits to South Asia. This peace initiative plays the role of catalyst to move the snail towards stability. Such steps are small and fragile but a ray of hope for Afghan that Peace can prevail.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad with US President Donald Trump’s new policy is looking for Pakistan’s assistance to persuade the Afghan Taliban to join the Afghan peace process. Washington urges Islamabad to play a key role in facilitating talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan said that Pakistan is sincere to cooperate for a political settlement in Afghanistan because peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest. It is not the first time that Pakistan respects the sovereignty of Afghanistan and lets us give a chance to the people of Afghanistan to decide the fate of Afghan people.

Pakistan as a responsible state wanted a positive and balanced relationship with neighboring countries. Pakistan had sacrificed for war against terrorism but now it is not in a position to contribute more for more results.  No state can sacrifice as Pakistan did for War against terrorism. Pakistan suffered 75,000 causalities in this war. Pakistan economy also suffered a loss of 123-billion-dollar due to war against terrorism while US aid was just 20 billion dollars.

Hence, a politically negotiated settlement is the only solution to end the Afghan crisis which can only be achieved by establishing peace with the Taliban and the Afghan government through constructive engagement and dialogue.

Pakistan “remains a critical partner” to America’s South Asia strategy but USA strategic policy towards Pakistan and Taliban remain miscalculated. After allegations and accusation, they are willing to make them part of the resolution. US should comprehend from the past statistics that the world can survive without USA intrusion and their boots on the ground.

Independent Researcher/ Freelance Columnist Area of Interest: Defence and Security Issues MPhil from Quaid e Azam University Islamabad in Defence and Strategic Studies, Master from Bahhahudin zakaria University Multan in International Relations

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South Asia

An opportunity to revisit the Indus Waters Treaty

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Two days before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was about to proceed with the hearing of “objected” hydro-power projects on tributaries, India issued a  notice to Pakistan seeking amendments to the decades old and only pact that compels historic rivals to regulate shared-water volumes in the region. Reportedly, the Indian pitch to the amendment refers specifically to the clause of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism, in which it intends to bring hierarchy to the options of resort. Technically, the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan provides a layered mechanism for dispute resolution through arbitration. The process involves the appointment of a neutral expert or a court of arbitration if the countries are unable to resolve a dispute through bilateral negotiations. The decision of the neutral expert or the Court of Arbitration is final and binding on both parties.

The timely development is in response to the on-going dispute between signatories, which flared in 2015 when Islamabad objected to Delhi’s hydropower projects, namely Kishanganga on the Jhelum River and Ratle on the Chenab River, as a clear violation of the treaty by aiming to disrupt and divert Indus flows. To examine the objection, both sides initially agreed on neutral experts, but later Pakistan withdrew its consensus and sought legal arbitration on the matter. The World Bank, also the broker of the treaty, failed to bring parties to the table and finally approved parallel processes: independent experts and arbitration court proceedings. It is to be noted that no party can bring about changes to the treaty unilaterally. This leaves a possibility for both parties to find common ground, iron out differences, and come to an agreement through negotiations and mutual consensus.

As India seeks modification of the IWT, Pakistan must consider it an opportunity and reciprocate the treaty’s reopening, if so, with reimagination and reinterpretation in the light of much-needed technical and operational norms and consideration of ecological viability. A successful and fresh dialogue on IWT would be a step in the right direction and a win-win situation for both countries, providing an equitable use of the river system, regional stability, and increased chances for socio-economic development. It must be  perceived as an opportunity  to address an outdated structure  that  enables  the exploitation of resources and provides insufficient collaborative measures between the parties. The assumption at the time of signing has significantly deluded contemporary realities given the dynamics of water both in quantitative and qualitative terms, a subsequent outcome of the climate induced and ecological threat to the Indus Basin River system. IWT, with its 1960 provisions, inherently remains deficient in managing water relations  in a  region where  billions are  subject to vulnerable climate  change  consequences, territorial disputes abound, and hydro-politicization appears unavoidable.

Nevertheless, the Indus Water Treaty has well-regulated the distribution and use of the Indus River and its five tributaries that flow from India to Pakistan while surviving multiple occasions of confrontation between the signatories. Additionally, the treaty established mechanisms for resolving disputes and provided for regular meetings between India and Pakistan to address any issues related to the treaty. The treaty has been largely successful in promoting cooperation between the two countries over the Indus River system, despite occasional tensions and disagreements. However, the recent move by India seeking modification has once again brought the treaty under the spotlight. IWT, which has been generally successful, certainly faces challenges other than the dispute resolution mechanism, which needs to be incorporated and addressed by the signatories. Emerging dynamics such as climate change, depleting resources, and geopolitics must be factored into the treaty to ensure its survival, relevance, and sustainability. These challenges have to be confronted by both countries as a whole, not just from the point of view of their water needs and water sharing obligations. As the world grapples with an uncertain future, India and Pakistan have an opportunity to re-establish their commitment to the IWT as a success story and enhance its application so that the treaty may be better adapted to current and future needs.

The IWT has survived tensions, conflicts, and wars between parties with a fair amount of distrust and reciprocal accusations of noncompliance with the treaty’s spirit and essence. Yet it is widely regarded as a successful example of international water management. However, the risks, both short- and long-term, associated with emerging climatic patterns provoke the need to accommodate those new realities of the Indus Basin within the existing structure and norms. New Delhi’s notification to “modify” the IWT is largely in response to the ongoing legal battle over dams’ construction. In light of this, the two countries should use this as a chance to redirect and renegotiate a meaningful dialogue over the much-needed amendments to the IWT in order to address the current and future water needs of the region apart from dispute settlement clauses.

Climate change presents a major loophole that needs to be addressed in the pact in order to strengthen its functionality. Specifically, changes in precipitation patterns and glacial melting could impact the availability of water in these rivers and thus the implementation of the treaty. The potential to disrupt and alter the agreed allocation of the water resources in the Indus River and its tributaries will certainly affect the smooth distribution of water as outlined in the treaty. Thus, it is important for both nations to consider the impacts of climate change and work together to adapt and mitigate the effects on the Indus River and the treaty. This may include measures to adjust the treaty, such as joint monitoring and management of water resources and cooperation on infrastructure development, to ensure sustainable water management and equitable distribution of water resources in the face of a changing climate. While it has been successful in preventing major water wars between India and Pakistan by establishing shared water resource management, the IWT continues to play a critical role with notable challenges. As climate change increasingly affects the region, it is essential that India and Pakistan ensure a resilient and responsive Indus River Treaty. These challenges need to be addressed in the spirit of the treaty, which subsequently provides the rights and responsibilities of both countries to ensure a sustainable treaty and a peaceful region.

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Kashmir: Pakistan’s Jugular Vein

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The Kashmir conflict is currently the oldest unresolved international conflict in existence. Pakistan views Kashmir as the source of its main political disagreement with India. The world community, with the exception of India, agrees. Pakistan commemorates Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5 every year in order to show its unending political, moral, and diplomatic support for the just struggle of Kashmiri brethren for their right to self-determination, as guaranteed by the UN Charter and pertinent UN resolutions. It emphasizes Pakistan’s support and sympathy for the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, their ongoing struggle for freedom, and paying tribute to Kashmiri martyrs who gave their lives in the hardships of achieving independence for Kashmir.

Despite the fact that the Kashmir issue has been an international concern since January 1948, when it was first brought before the UN, the current cycle of Kashmiris’ extreme struggles to practice their right to self-determination began in late 1989. Since then, the conflict in Kashmir has developed a close relationship with the broader issue of conflict and peace in South Asia. A serious crisis developed between New Delhi and Islamabad as a result of a virtual uprising among Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley and Srinagar.

On August 5, 2019, India unilaterally repealed Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution and annexed Kashmir, making the situation even worse. Pakistan is persistently advocating for the people of Kashmir and working to alleviate their suffering. Naturally, this was something that was inevitable as soon as the BJP secured a commanding majority in the most recent Lok Sabha election.  For the BJP’s fascist Hindu government, it was a promise made in its election platform. However, Kashmiris have actually ended up with less than the majority of Indian citizens because they have lost both statehood and their limited autonomy, which has been greatly eroded.

Today, it appears that the internal issue and India’s anti-democratic practises in Kashmir are more important than Indo-Pak relations or the outside world. The whole Kashmir region has become one of the world’s most militarised conflict zones. Since security personnel are primarily responsible for the issue, stationing Indian military and paramilitary forces in the area has only made matters worse. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act of India; grants these security forces immense power, which they frequently abuse. These forces don’t really comprehend the local way of life or share their genuine empathy for their religious beliefs. Among the main characteristics of this conflict are poverty, corruption, incompetence in government, excessive use of force, racial politics, and violations of human rights.

More than half of the population in Jammu and Kashmir saw violent government crackdowns, public explosions, and cross-firing between military personnel and armed rebels during the years that followed the insurgency as a result. The strong military presence seriously endangered the safety and freedom of the Kashmiri population, which had already suffered greatly from the worst effects of conflict and violence on physical and mental health. Human rights abuses, murders, economic ruin, and social strangulation of the Kashmiri people are the results. The strategic stability of South Asia has been severely compromised by the abrogation of these two articles. The aggressive annexation of Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir by India has harmed Kashmir’s unity and sovereignty.

Pakistan is adamantly fighting for the people of Kashmir and doing everything it can to solve their problems. Moreover, Pakistan has always demonstrated a strong commitment to defending the freedom and self-determination of the people of Kashmir on bilateral and multilateral levels. It continued to express its support for the protections of the Kashmiri people unequivocally and clearly and has drawn attention to Indian military activities and violations of human rights at all regional and international fora.

 Pakistan cannot ignore Kashmir because it is its jugular vein. Pakistan must take different actions because the security and stability of the South Asian region depend on the peace and stability of Kashmir. It is necessary to adopt a well-considered and timely strategy. A thorough response that takes into account the problems Kashmir is currently facing in terms of politics, society, economy, and public health is urgently needed. The Indian government has a responsibility under international human rights law to safeguard the security and well-being of Kashmiris, preventing them from going through the same ordeal that they did as a result of the ongoing communications blackout in 2019. Pakistan and Kashmir must fight on until the UN Security Council intervenes and settles the conflict and it is recognised by the international community. In the interim, let’s wish for the best while preparing for the worst.

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South Asia

The Rise of Non-State Actors in Afghanistan: A Consequence of Political Vacuum

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Terrorism

In recent years, Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in the influence of non-state actors such as the Taliban and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). These groups have exploited the political vacuum in the country to carry out acts of violence and terrorism, creating instability and insecurity for the Afghan people and neighboring countries.

Introduction:

The history of Afghanistan is marked by political instability and conflict. In the 1990s, the country was torn apart by a civil war between rival factions, which created a power vacuum that was eventually filled by the Taliban. The Taliban regime was eventually overthrown in 2001 with the help of international forces, but the country has since struggled to establish a stable and effective political administration.

The absence of a recognized political administration in Afghanistan has led to a power vacuum that has allowed non-state actors, such as the TTP, to exploit the situation and use Afghan soil to launch attacks against Pakistan, thereby threatening its security and stability.

The Political Vacuum in Afghanistan:

In the absence of a recognized political administration, non-state actors have been able to take advantage of the situation to establish themselves as power brokers in the country. The Taliban, for example, has been able to regain control over large swathes of territory and carry out acts of violence and terrorism against the Afghan government and international forces. The TTP, which operates primarily in Pakistan, has also taken advantage of the political vacuum in Afghanistan to use the country as a base for launching attacks against Pakistan.

The situation in Afghanistan highlights the importance of having a recognized political administration in place. A stable and effective political administration is essential for maintaining peace and security in the country and preventing the rise of non-state actors like TTP. It is also essential for preventing the country from being used as a base for launching attacks against neighboring countries.

Furthermore, the lack of a recognized political administration in Afghanistan has made it difficult for the international community to effectively address the challenges facing the country. The international community has been working to support the Afghan government in its efforts to establish a stable and effective political administration, but progress has been slow. The rise of non-state actors like TTP has only added to the challenges facing the international community and made it more difficult to find a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

To address the challenges facing Afghanistan, the international community needs to continue to support the Afghan government in its efforts to establish a stable and effective political administration. This can be achieved through providing financial, technical, and diplomatic support, as well as through helping to build the capacity of Afghan institutions and encouraging the development of civil society. The international community must also work to address the root causes of the conflict in Afghanistan, such as poverty, lack of access to education, and political instability.

The international community must take a firm stance against non-state actors like TTP, who seek to destabilize the region and carry out acts of violence and terrorism. This can be achieved through targeted sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and military operations if necessary. The international community must also work to disrupt the networks and financing mechanisms that these groups use to carry out their activities.

The Threat to Pakistan:

Pakistan, a country with a rich history and culture, is facing a serious threat from non-state actors operating within its borders. One such group is the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has been using the soil of Afghanistan to launch attacks against Pakistan. This has had a severe impact on the security and stability of the country, making it imperative for a coordinated effort to be made to address this issue.

The TTP, a militant group based in Afghanistan, has been using the country as a safe haven to launch attacks against Pakistan. From Afghanistan, TTP has been able to plan and coordinate attacks on Pakistan, causing death and destruction. The porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has made it easy for TTP to cross over and carry out these attacks. This has resulted in a serious threat to the security and stability of Pakistan, putting the lives of its citizens in danger.

The actions of TTP have had a profound impact on the security and stability of Pakistan. The group’s attacks have resulted in the loss of innocent lives, causing grief and distress to families and communities. TTP’s actions have also had an impact on the economy, as businesses and industries have been forced to shut down due to the insecurity. This has resulted in job losses and economic instability, putting a strain on the country’s already fragile economy. The threat posed by TTP has also had a negative impact on the country’s reputation, as it is seen as a country unable to control its own territory and protect its citizens.

The threat posed by non-state actors like TTP cannot be addressed by a single entity. A coordinated effort between the government, military, and other relevant organizations is necessary to address this issue. The government and military must work together to secure the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to prevent TTP from crossing over. The government must also take steps to tackle the root causes of extremism, such as poverty and ignorance, to prevent the rise of such groups. International organizations must also play their part in addressing this issue, by providing support and resources to help combat the threat posed by TTP.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the rise of non-state actors like TTP in Afghanistan is a direct result of the political vacuum in the country. The use of Afghan soil by TTP to launch attacks against Pakistan has had a severe impact on the security and stability of the country. The situation highlights the importance of having a recognized political administration in place to maintain peace and security and prevent the rise of these dangerous groups. The international community must continue to support the Afghan government in its efforts to establish a stable and effective political administration, and work together to prevent the country from becoming a breeding ground for non-state actors like TTP.

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