News / Asia

    Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

    With the political situation in Afghanistan in flux and international forces due to leave the country by the end of the year, the debate in neighboring Pakistan is focusing on prospects for increased cooperation with Afghanistan and Iran.

    In just eight months the last of the international forces are due to leave Afghanistan, ending a 13 year battle against the Taliban and other militants.

    Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country.

    Pakistani Senator and Chairman of the Defense Committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed recalls the last proxy war played out in Afghanistan between Pakistan and Iran, which destabilized the region in the 1990s.

    “Pakistan and Iran must avoid making the mistakes of the past. We tried to overreach, we had outsized ambitions, the times have changed, there are new realities, in Afghanistan the elections have shown that there is a supremacy of the ballot over the bullet,” he said.

    But because of the competing and overlapping interests of the four main regional players -- Pakistan, Iran, India and China -- as well as the United States, it is unclear if a strong, coherent regional consensus will emerge any time soon.

    Rifaat Hussain, a professor of public policy at the National University of Sciences and Technology, is not optimistic.

    “That you are a contiguous state, you want to implement non-interference, non-intervention doctrines, but the developments inside Afghanistan, particularly the growing influence of your rival powers, does not allow you to exercise that option. So non-interference is not a viable option in my judgment,”  said Hussain.

    But regional dynamics are changing. A lot will depend on the strategic decisions taken by the new political leadership in Iran, Pakistan, China and after the ongoing elections in India and Afghanistan.

    There are questions as to what extent traditional rivals Pakistan and India, and Iran and the United States, will be able to overcome past animosities and mistrust.

    Islamabad is also seen by Kabul as siding with the Afghan Taliban in order to keep a hand in Afghanistan’s political direction.

    But Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, says there is a strategic shift underway in Pakistan’s policy towards Kabul, away from dominance and towards cooperation.

    “If we want to look at policy through a new lens, as opposed to the old ball-and-chain of strategic depth, then we will look at no favorites,” said Rehman.

    But in an example of persisting friction between Islamabad and Kabul, Afghanistan’s cultural attaché to Islamabad, Zardasht Shams questioned Rehman’s position.

    “We have the legitimate elected Afghan government and then we have insurgents. So there should be favorites. The Afghan government should be the favorite, not the … there should be no doubt who are the favorites,” said Shams.

    Future peace will also depend heavily on the political acumen and political deal-making ability of Afghanistan’s next president. Partial results from the April 5 elections point to a runoff between the two leading candidates:  former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani, and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: captainjohann from: Bangalore,India
    April 18, 2014 12:43 AM
    There is no mention of Saudi Arabia and al Nusrah Front in this article.It is the triumvirate of Pakistan,Saudi arabia and UAE which were supporting the Taliban regime which ruled before 9/11 while Pakistan was the last one to keep its rrepresentative even after the USA sarted bombing the Taliban positions.after9/11.USA cannot absolve itself responsibility for the Kunduz evacuation which is how the wound is festering now

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    April 16, 2014 11:23 PM
    USA must watch closely activities in Islamabad. Because Pakistan is the birth place of Taliban. They have close relation with Taliban, So USA must be careful in this area. If there is no support of terrorism from Pakistan, I think we can expact peace in Afghanistan.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    April 16, 2014 7:48 PM
    MY OPINION? -- I really do believe that Iran, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will finally find peaceful co-existence, (once the US and NATO armies leave), and they now understand they must co-exist together in peace..
    PS; Like in days of kings and emperors, the US and NATO forces paid their enemies enemy in gold and silver, and provided weapons to each side, to weaken and destroy, those who would dethrone them?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora