Unity At The Heart of Asia

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By General Mirza Aslam Beg
The fast changing scenario in Afghanistan gives the hope, that, the post 1990 conspiracies which tormented the Afghans may not be repeated, as the foreign occupation is vacated. Therefore, the factors determining the future destiny of Afghanistan need to be analysed, keeping in mind the conspiracies of the past, which prevented peaceful transfer of power, after Soviet retreat. That led to a civil war, which threw-up the Taliban as the redeemers, but they too were cut-down by the invading forces in 2001. Then followed the thirteen years brutal war of occupation, which now has ended, and so have the conspiracies, which had preventing the Afghans to form a government of their choice, which could guarantee lasting peace to the war ravage country. The recently held Heart of Asia Conference at Beijing, sets the sight for the future, and also identifies the factors which could usher Afghanistan into a new era of peace and stability. The factors, under focus are:

* The Taliban have emerged as the winners and have shown serenity of judgment and the political wisdom to lead the nation to its new destiny. They are prepared to negotiate peace, with the new Unity government of Ashraf Ghani

* Mullah Umar’s words of wisdom, which I have often quoted, indicates the fundamental direction that “let the occupation forces leave, then we will take decisions in a free environment, acceptable to the entire nation. We are not going to fall prey to the machinations of our enemies, who destroyed our unity in the past.”

* An Intra-Afghan Dialogue was held in Paris, in December 2012, at the Foundation for Strategic Research, where the participating Taliban; Northern Alliance and the representatives of President Karzai, gave solid affirmation to Mullah Umar’s resolve; and a peace process road-map to 2015, was evolved, envisaging a role for Pakistan supported by United

States. They also resolved “to remain united, working for a broad-based government, for peace in Afghanistan.” This is the on-going process now.

* The new Afghan government, under President Ashraf Ghani has taken all the positive steps, confirming the decisions taken by the 2012 High Peace Council at Paris.

* President Ashraf Ghani has declared that the future of Afghanistan will be decided in a very selective manner and in close coordination with its six neighbors of the Inner-Circle – namely Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia and the Central Asian countries. All others are expected to support his initiative.

* The Pak-Afghan historical and civilizational bondages are emerging stronger, and reject the machinations of the outsiders, into the affairs of the two countries.

* The United States, under the force of circumstances, shifted its Strategic Pivot to the Asia Pacific region. It has reconciled to the emerging changes in Afghanistan and particularly supports Ashraf Ghani’s concept of Unity at the Heart of Asia, and his initiative to forge closer relations with Pakistan. India gets a new role as a leading partner in the Asia-Pacific Coalition, against China, same as Israel has a role in the Middle East.

These are the positive signs which promise peace and stability in Afghanistan that will extend beyond to Pakistan, to bring to an end the sate sponsored terrorism from the Afghan soil. And also will come to an end the US obsession to establish India as the dominant power, from Kabul to Dacca. Thus immediate neighbors of Afghanistan, of the First Circle, have a common cause of establishing regional peace, to provide the much needed balance of power in the Heart of Asian region.

Pakistan’s foreign policy determinants are being set forth in a style and a manner, which is not apologetic any more. General Raheel rushed to Kabul with the request to tell the Indians to wind-up their conspiracy network operating against Pakistan since 2005 and also to curb the Pakistani terrorists operating from

Afghanistan soil. General Raheel went to United Kingdom to tell them that it was not the first time that ‘London Plan’ has emerged from their soil and that there were solid proof that Pakistani dissident groups were being harboured and funded by sources in the United Kingdom and that it must stop. Earlier on, he spent two weeks in the Untied States explaining to them the emerging realities in the Heart of Asia and Pakistan’s concerns about the security challenges to the country.

The Americans don’t seem to have a foreign policy of their own. John Kerry visited Pakistan and his foreign policy initiatives appeared fully subdued and supportive of India on the issue of Kashmir. Regarding Afghanistan, he repeated the old demand, to Do-more, from Pakistan, against Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban, as if the decision of joining the American war against Afghanistan was still valid. Yet it is time now that, United States adopts a policy in harmony with the emerging realities in the region. The war on terror is also approaching a decisive end and Insha Allah, Pakistan’s objectives will soon find harmony with the foreign policy objectives of the countries of the First Circle. That is a big step forward.

(Writer is the former Army Chief of Pakistan)

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