The importance of foreign secretary John Kerry’s visit to Afghanistan
His Excellency John Kerry’s surprise visit to Afghanistan at such crucial time is a great gesture by the U.S. administration on its commitment to continue its financial and political support to the Afghan people beyond 2014. As we have seen in the last few months the relationship between the two strategic partners is trembling due to the recent uncalculated remarks by the Afghan president and his team. Mr. Kerry both as a diligent diplomat and an expert statesman has the intelligence to sort out these minor issues and present a bigger scope of the U.S. assistance to the Afghans post the gradual withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the country in 2014.
In fact, he is among the few U.S. politicians who could easily be compared to Mr. Henry Kissinger who spent most of his public life in aligning U.S.’s foreign diplomacy in remaining close and active with its oversees allies in the 1970s. Similarly, Afghanistan is going through a very critical phase in its history, the insurgency which began in 2001 is full on as we speak, the economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid where the dilemma of an insecure Afghanistan post 2014 is piling up on the top. Now more than ever for us to tackle all these problems and remain in the right path it is an absolute responsibility of the prevailing leadership to remain forthcoming with our strategic partners and continue to enjoy the political support of the international community specially the U.S. administration in the future as well.
Geographically Afghanistan exists in a very complicated surrounding where there are countries that are hostile and sensitive towards the U.S. presence along their borders and if we establish a platform to understand their concerns and at the same time state our vulnerabilities there will be a change towards their current policies in regards to the Afghan peace process with the insurgents. We have to accept that we are the weakest state in the region. On one hand, Pakistan has an institutionalized armed forces equipped with nuclear arsenal where as on the other hand, Iran is an economic power with the same military status as Pakistan, now for us in order to survive in the region we do not have any other viable option rather than sealing a deal with the U.S. in terms of building our armed forces, keep supporting the flow of democracy in the country and very importantly help us ease the tense relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbors.
Surprisingly, just a day in office, he made a kind gesture of meeting with the visiting young musicians from Afghanistan in D.C. and applauded their courage and talent for promoting peace. A statesman in such caliber as him it is a great honor for us that he personally visited Afghanistan among one of his first foreign destinations. He as the state secretary could play a very vital role in making Pakistan cooperate in the ongoing peace process with the Taliban and persuade both Kabul and Islamabad to put their differences aside and strengthen their bilateral relations.
Simultaneously with Mr. Kerry’s visit to Afghanistan, the control of the biggest U.S. prison in Afghanistan was handed over to the Afghan officials. Overseeing the Bagram detention which hosts the most notorious terrorists by the Afghan government is a huge challenge. Previously, most of the insurgent attacks foiled in the Afghan capital were either planned or motivated in the prisons under the authorities of the Afghan officials. I am pretty sure; if they take this responsilbity as granted and facilitate the release of these convicted there will be an uprising as far as the suicide attacks are concerned in Kabul and its outskirts.
Meanwhile the upcoming political leadership in Afghanistan has to be prudent enough to prioritize our strategic goals and refrain from any step which could eventually isolate us from the rest of the world and take us back to an ethnic battle zone as experienced in the 1990s. With the support of the international community and the U.S. we will be able to diminish insurgency in the long run and remain intact from the conspiracies designed to destabilize our peace and security. Obviously, our neighbors will never prefer us being the focal point in the U.S. foreign policy and will do anything in their hands to persuade the religious conmen to label the relationship as non-Islamic and hazardous to our national interests.
It is so evident that the monster 2014 has already put a huge toll on ordinary Afghans psychological peace and as the realities in the ground indicate a mere mistake in peacefully transferring power to the next elected leadership could shift our destination in a very ugly alley. As a very vivid example, the housing market which in the last ten years was booming has already started sloping down as nobody dares to invest in an uncertain real estate market post 2014. This is a time that the power brokers have to weigh all the cons of getting distance from the rest of the international community and falling in the traps of our neighboring countries willingly intending to keep us as a weak, consuming and ethnically divided nation in the future.
President Karzai and his fellow team members have to realize that any criticism addressed to his administration by the U.S. officials is meant to keep Afghanistan in the right path and pave the way for a viable reform process within the Afghan socio-political system. The U.S. government by far has spent close to USD 40 billion dollars of its tax payers' money in Afghanistan and absolutely has the right to question the overwhelming increase in the high level of corruption among Afghan high ranking officials. Historically any postwar country that has benefited from the U.S. financial assistance has been able to rationalize in spending and prioritize projects with long term gains. A great example in this regard would be Europe (The Marshall Plan), South Korea, Japan and etc….
Last but not least, it is a last call to the present and upcoming leaderships in Afghanistan to bring accountability and transparency in public spending and honestly appreciate the assistance provided to the afghan people by the international community and the U.S. in over a decade now.
Author: Naser Koshan
Washington, United States