Home Contact Us  

US & South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4340, 17 March 2014

Dateline Islamabad

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Consequences of the American Exit
Salma Malik
Assistant professor, Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University

The announcement of a drawdown timeline for US troops from Afghanistan predictably garnered mixed reactions. However, most of the issues that brought the US-led ISAF to the region still remain unresolved. Where on one hand Osama bin Laden’s killing is an ace for the US, the al Qaeda as an entity still remains. This leaves the second spoiler, the Afghan Taliban, as well as their faith brothers, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Both of them have the advantage of being sons of the soil. There is no timeline to chase, so they have the luxury to act as spoilers, keep the security profile turbulent in real time and wait for the ‘foreigners’ to exit. Though the Afghan Taliban has suffered significant losses, their structures, ability to recruit, and countrywide operations remain intact with new tactics and means to hold ground.

Afghanistan today is not the one left in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal and the faulty Geneva Accords. This is good news, as even in the worst-case future scenario, one cannot envision the international community leaving Kabul in the lurch. However it correspondingly gives rise to another problem: that too many actors with vested interests will turn Afghanistan into their proxy strategic playfield. For the moment, Afghans are happy with this international focus and seemingly positive attention, but the years to come may change this happy picture. A larger chunk of Afghan civil society, which is highly proactive in democratic nation-building, is drawn from the Afghan diaspora, who despite their best intentions may not be able to withstand a possible surge in militancy and violence in case a situation so arises. The law enforcement and security apparatus, ANSF, though much improved and stronger than before still has a long way to go and its performance post transition would at best remain a mixed bag, which given Afghanistan’s complex security dynamics, is not at all a good news. That leaves the ‘Afghan-owned and Afghan-led’ democratic and nation-building process, which like many of the ‘Made in US’ products leaves much to be desired. In a cross-section of Afghan nationals, there exists deep skepticism about the ‘Afghan-owned’ component largely missing from the frame, thus once again constructing a system that has very weak foundations.

Much depends on the results of the forthcoming elections. With all the presidential candidates and their affiliates minus incumbent president Karzai consenting to the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), Afghanistan requires a strong representative government with indigenous legitimacy and capacity to extend its writ outside Kabul without external props. Will the Taliban be willing to negotiate and agree to some non-violent power-sharing? There are serious doubts. What would be the impact of these developments on Pakistan? Though the Pakistani government is already in talks with the TTP (Pakhtun faction) and there is a temporary respite from the US drones, bombings and civilian killings have not reduced and nor has the US announced a complete termination of its drone attack policy. In fact most of the Taliban high shura has comfortably crossed over into Afghanistan and will remain there for as long as it suits them. Though the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are pursuing their independent agenda, one must not forget their past links and the strength and resilience of their networks. In addition, the history of Pak-US relations is highly checkered, and even after eleven plus years, Pakistani society remains highly divided about whether this has been Pakistan’s war.

In case the talks with the TTP fail and there is a breach in the security framework that would result as a part of the agreement, would post-2014 Afghanistan be able to provide security cooperation to Pakistan, mainly in the shape of border closure, hot pursuit into ‘friendly’ territory to capture militants, intelligence-sharing and perceivable joint operations? With divergent perspectives and a strong sense of the other side being the spoiler, there is doubt that such a cooperative security regime could work. However, for the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, the post 2014 timeline would actually be a welcoming notion. So long as there is an American security interest and presence, there is optimism for a better security framework. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan can conveniently dump their bad diplomacy on the US. It also acts as a balancer against a stronger Indian presence.

Though Pakistani decision-makers have reinforced the point that they have no reservations with New Delhi’s ‘legitimate’ interests in Afghanistan, they would always remain wary of any military or strategic role India has in Afghanistan. Realistically, every country, be it the US (Monroe doctrine) or India (Nepal, Bhutan), has similar concerns when it comes to its strategic interests. Afghanistan of the future holds increased economic and commercial activity and corresponding involvement of the international community, as well as pressure for increased transit and trilateral (India-Pakistan-Afghanistan) trade. Pakistan has to prepare itself for the changing trends and pressures. Ironically, the energy pipelines still remain somewhat elusive; a problematic profile for energy-stressed Pakistan specifically. The coming months are fraught with multiple challenges that need a sustainable, well-articulated and well thought-out approach. The 2014 exit timeline in fact heralds a new chapter in the region’s strategic relations, which would largely shape future dynamics.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
D Suba Chandran,
"Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?," 3 March 2014
D Suba Chandran,
"TTP under Mullah Fazlullah: What Next for the Pakistani Taliban?," 14 February 2014
Rajeev Agarwal,
"US-Afghanistan: Implications of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA)," 6 February 2014

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?

IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015

India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass

Burying the Past: A New Beginning for Pakistan and Afghanistan

India-Pakistan: Working Boundaries and Lines of Uncontrolled Fire

Of Inquilab and the Inquilabis

Pakistan: Of Messiahs and Marches

Zarb-e-Azb: The Decisive Strike

India-Pakistan: Faces in the Sand

India-Pakistan: Nuclear Weapons and Crisis Diplomacy

Elections in India and Afghanistan: Perspective from Pakistan

Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?

The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: Through Elections and Media Ratings

The Failed State Index and South Asia: Revisiting the White Manís Burden

India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: Strengthening the Risk Reduction Measures

Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Holbrooke Visit: Reviewing the Messy Inheritance

Pakistan-India Peace Process: Cautious Optimism

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.