Despite playing to the gallery, the United States and Afghanistan are far from hammering out a bilateral security deal. The goals of both countries are different and ironically, they don’t see eye to eye even after working together for more than a decade in the war on terrorism.
Though both Kabul and Washington say that they have resolved disagreements on thorny issues, there is still a lot of homework that needs to be done. One of these is the issue of immunity for US soldiers who stay on in Afghanistan after NATO’s withdrawal next year.
Kabul has failed to win a guarantee that Afghanistan would be protected by U.S. troops from external attacks. The U.S. has backtracked on this pivotal issue because it involves Pakistan. Afghanistan has a history of military and cross-border infiltration from across the Durand Line.
What Afghanistan faces today in terms of seeking guarantees from the U.S. is almost like déjà vu, reminiscent of the case of Iraq. The long list of compromises and concessions that Washington wants is making the Afghan deal almost go down the drain. The same happened in Iraq, which led to the total withdrawal of U.S. forces without any post-withdrawal or interim arrangement. If Kabul too is meted out a similar treatment, it shouldn’t cry foul but work closely with its rejuvenated security forces for erecting an order that is foolproof and vibrant enough to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Nonetheless, Kerry’s assurance to Karzai that no unilateral attack on Afghan soil would be carried out without consulting the local authorities is something to rejoice at. What is required now is a tenable accord to provide the war-torn country with economic aid and assistance, and help rebuild it with peace and development restored. Given the psyche and history of the Afghan people, cooperation is much better than compromises in the realm of security.
- The Khaleej Times, Dubai,