News / Asia

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Sharon Behn
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.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs