Upcoming Bonn Conference & Afghan Crises
By Zaheerul Hassan
First Bonne Conference was held in 2001, Now, once again the international community comprising 100 delegations of 90 nations will meet in the former German capital on 5 December 2011. The aim of this meeting is to decide the fate of long outstanding Afghan Issue. One of the main objectives is that the participants of the meeting will get together and deliberate the goals of the conference with a view to give concrete shape to the long-term engagement of the international community and to advance the broader political process in Afghanistan. As per media reports Afghanistan delegation might be including Hajji Ibrahim, brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, as the representative of Haqqani’s Network; Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or his trustees as the representatives of the Hezb-e-Islami; and Sayed Tayeeb Agha, Mullah Brother (Beradar) and Mawlawi Kabir as representatives of Taliban. It would not be wrong in saying that all these nominated individuals have no mandate or any influence on the present Taliban, Insurgents or armed opposition in Afghanistan. They are invited just for a political show to cover up, that neither the western countries nor the Afghan government has substantial contacts to the Afghan issue since the said conference was the league of victors “Washington's Afghan allies”. The Taliban, and many of the Pashtun tribes associated with the movement, were not invited and have been excluded from power ever since. Recently, the Afghan Civil Society Coordination Jirga (ACCJ) chief said some individuals selected through a ballot process for participation in the second Bonn conference were not real civil society representatives. Based on a ballot process, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) had picked 34 representatives from Afghan civil society organisations for taking part in the conference. ACCJ chief Abdul Rahman Hotaki told a news conference that the representatives should have been selected from organisations registered with the government. He claimed none of their member organisations had been invited to contest the election.
Anyhow, the war against terror which was started just after 9/11 is still continue and gave heavy damage of men and material. Repair to the damage to the last conference can only be done if true stakeholders of Afghan crises meet again with the intentions to give hope of peace to the people of Afghanistan and regional countries .Forthcoming Bonn conference should not be taken just as stock-taking on the road to 2014 and the transition to Afghan-run security and NATO withdrawal. There is a need to consider acceptable solution to real stakeholders those are actually involved and sufferer of war against terror. These types of stakeholders are: Afghan rulers, Taliban, general masses, Pakistan, US and Iran. Whereas India and some western countries which are involved in construction of Afghanistan could be bracketed in other type of stakeholders since there security are not being threaten directly from the Afghan Issue. Here, we cannot ignore the outcome of the Istanbul Conference which was concluded in the first week of November, 2011. It has discussed the issues relating to the transition in Afghanistan, including Afghan security, recruitment, training and equipment of Afghan security forces, as well as the reconciliation process. The conference also focused on regional economic cooperation. In Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran can play very vital role in the establishing of regional peace because of their religious bindings.
At the same time participants of coming Bonn conference must know that occupied forces physically remained unsuccessful to control the situation and continuously are facing defeats while fighting against Taliban. According to the credible estimation, American suffered heavy losses in terms of finances and life losses in war against terror like! (One) total cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan since 2001 is $1,254,566,897,296, (two) number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (officially acknowledged) In America's War on Iraq: 4,792 (three) Number of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered in Afghanistan: 2,718.
Notably, the second major ally Pakistan has suffered the colossal financial losses of more than $80 billion in the so called war on terror since 2001, while human loss is around 70,000, reveals the Economic Survey report issued by the government of Pakistan. During this war over 50,000 citizens and 5000 security personnel have been killed apart from destruction of infrastructure, internal migration of millions of people from parts of northwestern Pakistan, erosions of investment climate. Moreover, 270 drone attacks killed 2601 persons in FATA since 2004.
“Second Bonn Conference” can also be viewed in the light of prevailing post Osama Bin Laden (OBL) scenario and coming U.S. presidential elections. Obama’s administration has to start its exit strategy since after elimination of OBL there is no ground left to extend the increase and extending US forces stay in Afghanistan. Thus, needs of justifying of American forces under present situation would be difficult for the Pentagon. In this regard, Washington government on the plea of presence of Haqqani network is trying to use Pakistan as scapegoat to hide her failures. The relationship between two front line allies drastically went to the lowest level since inception of Pakistan. After unilaterally May 2, 2011 action in Abbottabad, Islamabad top civil and military brass is not in a position to go for “do more policy”.
Participants of Bonn Conference should also know that Pakistan is facing a real security dilemma in the presence of India on its eastern and western front (Afghanistan). They must realize that Pakistan has already fought four major and minor wars with India. Kashmir and water disputes major irritants and need to be resolved. Islamabad always said that India is carrying out cross border terrorism in FATA, Balochistan and rest of Pakistan. The criminal elements of Taliban are on the payroll of RAW. Almost 17 RAWs’ detachments under the garb of NGOs, projects organizations and consulates are functioning in side of Afghanistan on Pak-Afghan. These detachments of RAW are directly responsible for the instability in Pakistan. Thus, leadership of Bonn conference must recognize that Afghanistan and Pakistan stability is directly linked to each other. Pakistan has given the choice to its own side of Taliban to first surrender and then come on the negotiation table for establishment of peace. Similarly, Afghan Taliban under the leadership of Mullah Omer and Chief of Haqqani network can be brought on the negotiation table. But for this USA and NATO forces have to give guarantee of leaving the region. At the same time Washington should know that establishing of American bases will not be accepted to China, Russia, Pakistan and other Central Asian States
‘Bonn Conference leadership” should make efforts for successful culmination of talks which will help in long term strategic relations, smooth disengagement and return of US forces from Afghanistan. Probably, the possibility of Taliban participation in Bonn is now being tentatively explored. Officially, there will be a single Afghan delegation to the conference, but European diplomats say there is flexibility in the make-up of that delegation. It could include representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban. In the past former ambassador of Pakistan, Dr Maleha Lodhi very rightly raised questions on the under discussing issue, i.e. is the goal of the military means now simply the avoidance of defeat? What does “success” in Afghanistan really mean? Can Afghanistan be stabilized by just military means without applying non military elements of strategy? Is it all possible to for outsiders to undertake nation building?
The simple answer to these questions: need to resolve the issue according to the desires of Afghan nation, regional players, super powers and UN Security Council resolutions. U.S should implement the schedule of withdraw of her forces. Meanwhile, UNO under the elections should be conducted. The main theme of the solution should revolve around “negotiation with the real elected leadership of Afghans”. Off course the elected government has to give the guarantee of not promoting terrorism. The restructuring of Afghanistan should be the primary objective of UN and Afghan government. Indian ingress should be minimized to lessen the Pakistani worries. A successful peace process in Afghanistan hinges not only on successful talks with the Taliban but also on successful security and economic transition, and relatively effective and sustainable governance and rule of law. Moreover as promised by international community, Pakistan should be assisted in developing her energy and textile sector, boosting economy, transfer of technology and poverty alleviation.