Mon April 24, 2017
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Security deals with US, NATO sans Pak cooperation are useless

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By Mansoor Faizy

KABUL: The approval of security accords with US and NATO by overwhelming majority of lawmakers is considered to be a fruitful step aimed at development of Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani also welcomed the approval of BSA with US.
BSA with the US and SOFA with NATO can be taken as a key step towards strengthening the national security. The accords would allow Afghan forces to be in control of all security affairs. These agreements will also help our national security forces to hone their defense capabilities, get sophisticated trainings and weapons. With this agreement a new chapter between Kabul and Washington relations has been opened as the US President Obama in his new guidelines to American troops in Afghanistan allowed them to target Taliban fighters freely under their very much own strategy, however under the BSA the Afghan government doesn’t allow them to conduct independent operations. Furthermore, Obama’s decision also means the US can conduct air operations. As soon as the President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah took oath, they signed the BSA with the United States and a Separate Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO on September 30. Though, now the BSA has been approved by majority in the parliament but when the new government leadership signed it, a protesting MP said that signing BSA means extending American objectives in the region and prolonging Afghan troubles while putting Afghan sovereignty under question.
There is a no denying fact that the deal between Kabul and Washington is not a matter of choice, but rather it is a matter of need. The deal should go through all legal process as it paves the ground for a long-term support for the Afghan forces.  As a matter of fact the Afghan force are being faced with numerous financial and equipment problems where this security deals looks the only viable option. BSA doesn’t mean external aggression on Afghanistan as foreign forces were already present before the approval of this agreement. Moreover, there are too many other Muslim countries who have already signed such agreements with the US. The MPs who voted in the favor of this agreement think that BSA will go a long way in making Afghan forces well-trained, well-equipped and eventually leaving far more effective results on national security. This agreement was approved by 156 MPs. Six MPs walked out in protest and their votes were declared invalid.
Under this agreement, American troops will be stationed in Parwan, Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Kandahar, Shindand, Paktia and Helmand provinces to train and equip Afghan forces.
This security deal is for the good of the country, it will pave way for peace, contrary to general publics’ view that it will create security problems. BSA is to cover a counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan and of course help Afghanistan build its stronger security forces. besides this security agreement, there is a general view being held by majority of the people the country who think the US invasion was after all a fruitful step (though it cost Afghanistan many losses also), which is the reason they look forward for enhanced ties with Washington.
Since the agreement has been signed now therefore the US President Barack Obama should work with National Unity Government honestly help Kabul reach its peace, security and development goals. Whenever there is talk on security, two things—Taliban and al-Qaeda comes under discussion. As far as the issue of Taliban and al-Qaeda are concerned, no doubt none can deny the role of Pakistan. Until the Taliban get shelters, ration, training and weapons from a country in the region—called Pakistan, Kabul will never succeed in curbing this threat. This is one side of the story. The other side of the story is if Kabul really wants to weed out militancy, it should make friend with Islamabad as without its sincere bond, Kabul cannot successfully tackle with this issue. Even signing of BSA will give no positive results until Islamabad shows readiness on peace and security support to Kabul. Recently ex-president Hamid Karzai also held Pakistan responsible for providing safe havens for the Taliban in its soil.  He also said that India, China and Afghanistan should work together in a bid to put a halt to this deadly menace in the region.
Taliban have been called on umpteenth times to come to the table of negotiation to find out solution to conflict through dialogues, but these peace calls as usual have made no effect. As usually the Taliban have given a deaf ear to these peace calls and their master (Pakistan) is not letting the Taliban to integrate into civil society. Contrarily supporting peace, Pakistan spared no efforts to scuttle the endeavor of High Peace Council’s efforts. Pakistan’s authorities have been too busy in running Afghanistan. It has become so entrenched in this evil game that it has totally ignored the fact that it’s very much own body has caught fire. In the face of these challenges, and given the nature of the conflict, approving the security deal with the US was not an easy job. However, Kabul made its way out of these challenges, and opposed opposition from Iran and Pakistan, and signed the agreement for necessity. Now the this agreement has been signed, the militants should rethink their policy as their violence has been becoming unbearable for civilians who being ruthlessly killed in Taliban’s attacks.
BSA was approved on Sunday’s morning while at evening 61 people were killed and over 70 were injured in a suicide bombing during a volleyball match in southeastern Paktika province. No group so far commented on the incident, but the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) in its twitter page termed Haqqani Network responsible for the attack.  The Haqqani Network is aligned with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Even the New York Times called the Haqqani Network the “Sopranos of the Afghanistan War”.
The US should pressurize Pakistan through mounting diplomatic and international pressure in order to push Islamabad on dumping its strategic designs in Afghanistan, and providing safe heavens to the militants on its territory as peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the very interest of Pakistan as well. The US officials always emphasized on signing BSA but what is the guarantee that peace and stability sans Pakistan’s support would come in Afghanistan. And also there is no guarantee that international troops and Afghan forces would no more come under attack after BSA. As far as this issue is concerned there would be no peace and stability sans Pakistan’s sincere peace and security cooperation. What the people of this troubled want is peace—whether it comes by signing security agreement with Washington or enhancing brotherly ties with Pakistan. As Pakistani officials publicly claim that security in Afghanistan is in the better interests of Islamabad, then the question is why it has taken an opposite direction.

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