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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs