Afghanistan: A survival match

Hamid Karzai the President of Afghanistan has been in power through several elections to this day. There is a corresponding modern history of Afghanistan that kept brewing in the neighboring state of Pakistan. This is largely the story of the Taliban.

Pakistan’s interest in the region seen from several angles ranging from the region providing them a territorial depth, if not an Islamic one, from a perceived threat from India. There is a fear of losing this strategic domination to India and forces amicable to it.  India too seeks its place in the geo strategic region perhaps for exactly the opposite reasons.

The Taliban has grown out of and with the Mujahedeen supported by Pakistan and funded by many agencies and countries directly and indirectly. One of the key figures in the early days of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was later Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1993 to 94 and again in 1996.

Hekmatyar is in hiding and still a prominent figure in the Afghan (Taliban) insurgency. The Taliban’s insurgency in the current state of affairs has made them a stake holder in the future of Afghanistan. While the other two Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin  Haqqani  refuse to come to talks unless all foreign troops leave Afghanistan, Hekmatyar seems more agreeable.

The situation in Afghanistan is still precarious. ‘Control’ in Afghanistan is generally around the major cities and urban centres.  The Afghan security forces trained by the west may not be ready to replace the NATO and US troops who are planning to leave by 2013. There are conflicting views presented on the security situation to support the retention or withdrawal of foreign troops.

Hamid Karzai, in a recent interview on ABC television, stated that Afghanistan has always been under threat of terrorism. This was a practice started by Imperial British India to keep the Afghan monarchy suppressed which continues even today now from Pakistan.

The Taliban had ruled after the ouster of the Soviets, but was largely fragmented and under the control of various war lords. The chances of a unified peaceful Afghanistan are hard to broker with the multitude of multinational interest.  Afghanistan has to appease too many neighbors, Pakistan, Iran and everybody north of River Amu Dariya in the North.  Talks with the Taliban will be a movement in some direction which will be hard to predict.

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