View Full Version : Challenges of the Afghan satellite state By Musa Khan Jalalzai - 8th March 2016

8th March 2016, 11:26 AM
In February 2016, the US intelligence chief claimed that Afghanistan is on the verge of a political breakdown. However, former intelligence advisor to President Obama, James Clapper also told the US Senate that the war-hit country was at serious risk. “Waning political cohesion, increasingly assertive local powerbrokers, financial shortfalls, and sustained countrywide Taliban attacks are eroding stability,” Clapper said. In 2015, due to the high rate of desertion, Afghan police and army retreated from important check posts in Helmand. More than 34,000 police officers deserted due to lack of weapons and logistic support. The failed and wrongly designed military operation strategies to eliminate Taliban groups further jeopardised the security of the country as a growing number of Pakistani sectarian groups continue to enter southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan.

In the Heart of Asia Conference, the Afghan president raised the question of Pakistan’s support to terrorist networks operating inside Afghanistan. The Unity government is close to collapse due to internal ethnic and sectarian conflagration. The expanding periphery of violence in northern and southern parts of the country, and the lack of coordination between security forces and the police, and between the police and citizens means that the staggering body of the government can collapse any time. However, wide-ranging differences between the two presidents have reached the point of no return.

On 1st March 2016, Dr Abdullah raised the question of citizen alienation from the state. He criticised President Ghani for his weak national security approach, and warned that the way government is tackling violence is wrong. Dr Abdullah pointed to the shrinking writ of the government in several parts in the north, where warlords and foreign-sponsored commanders of private militias do not accept the authority of the Kabul government. The performance of government has been poor during the last one year; high-ranking officers from the police department and the ANA command openly criticised the Unity government for its failed war strategies. Politicians raised the question of coordination and a professional approach to national security. Coordination between government organs was in shambles; those who were appointed by Mr Ghani did not hear Dr Abdullah, and those who belonged to Dr Abdullah’s camp did not obey the orders of the president and Vice President General Dostum. Public confidence in government remained low. Contradiction in statements of army and police commanders, and the presidential palace about the strength of Islamic State (IS) created a new conundrum. Afghan army denies the challenge of IS while President Ashraf Ghani conceded its strong presence in Afghanistan before the US Congress: “IS is already sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan to test our vulnerabilities.” The government, in all, has failed to deliver security and support to both domestic and international investors. Mr Ghani warned last month that if the level of US forces did not increase, his government may possibly collapse.

In Afghanistan there are different national security and counterterrorism approaches, priorities and mechanism that contradict each other. Majority of people in the northern parts of Afghanistan perceive the Taliban as a terrorist organisation while the Unity government in Kabul perceives the Taliban groups as a political opposition. Interestingly, those who fought against the Taliban in northern, eastern and southern provinces were removed from their services by the Unity government in 2015 and 2016. However, Special Advisor to President, Ahmad Zia Massoud and Dr Abdullah are against the Taliban, while the national security advisor supports the Taliban and ISIS groups. General Dostum says the Taliban is a terrorist group, while the other group perceives them as political opposition. In Helmand, Arozgan and Kunar provinces, government ordered Afghan army commanders to leave their military posts to the Taliban. In Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Baghlan and Badakhshan provinces fight against the Taliban has intensified.

The basic responsibility of the Afghan government is to deliver education, security, good governance, and the requirements of critical national infrastructure, but unfortunately, the writ of the government is poorly executed in the provinces. Government is engaged in business with war criminals, and has unnecessarily altered the nature of the state through the introduction of informal politics. In one of his Brooking Institute research paper, Robert I Robert has deeply analysed the functions of weak and failed states where different types of insurgencies emerge time and again: “Weak states include a broad continuum of states that are: inherently weak because of geographical, physical, or fundamental economic constraints; basically strong, but temporarily or situationally weak because of internal antagonism, management flaws, greed, despotism, or external attacks; and a mixture of the two. Weak states typically harbour ethnic, religious, linguistic, or other intercommunal tensions that have not yet, or not yet thoroughly, become overtly violent. Failed states are tense, deeply conflicted, dangerous, and contested bitterly by warring factions.”

The incompetency and insufficiency of state legitimacy has widely been discussed by Afghan media since the establishment of the Unity government, but the illegitimate influence of warlords and war criminals in state institution, and policy-making process led to the disintegration of state institutions, which have been unable to deliver services to the citizens since 2015.

The poppy cultivation has now become a part of traditional economy, which criminalised and containerised the whole financial market in Afghanistan. In view of these circumstances, Afghanistan needs to accept the Durand Line as a legitimate border with Pakistan, and settle all outstanding issues with Pakistan. If we read the statements of Pakistani and US authorities, we can understand that the so-called Durand Line has settled between the two states as some of my friends in Islamabad confirmed to me. Moreover, let’s hear the music of Pakistan and the United State on the Durand Line. On several occasions, the foreign office of Pakistan clarified that the Durand issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a settled issue as it is an internationally recognised border between the two states. The United States also made it clear that it recognises the Durand Line as an international border. While asked about the Durand Line, the State Department spokesperson, Mr Kirby said: “It’s the recognised border, and we recognise the borders of Afghanistan.”

The writer is the author of The Prospect of Nuclear Jihad in Pakistan, nd can be reached at zai.musakhan222@gmail.com