By: Srimal Fernando and Jalal Shams
In September, Afghanistan faced the first round of the Presidential election that can be a historic turning point not just for Afghan, but also for their neighbors, US, NATO and Russia. Currently, the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr.Abdullah Abdullah are the two frontrunners in the Presidential race .In wake of the recent president elections the choice of leadership will be a decisive factor for overall security situation and stability of the nation’s future. The dominant narrative surrounding the diplomatic circles, are presently based on how the new Afghan government will face challenges as well as opportunities to renew the peace talks with the Taliban. This will be a crucial time for various stakeholders to enable a roadmap for peace to resolve the on going civil unrest.
During the past five years the new administration under President Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah saw the principles of political unity being consolidated. In contrast to the rest of the Presidents in the modern political history, the incumbent Head of State Ashraf Ghani was more professionally known as to the outside world as a potential peacemaker. When the election results are declared there might be an analogy between presidential front-runner’s cases and the way they handled the security and the external relations during the previous presidential term. Therefore it is important to note that Afghanistan’s external policy is derived from mainly three factors, geo politics, economic needs, and racial structure. However the nation’s foreign policy is only one point for consideration in transforming the nation towards peace and stability. This is something where it just isn’t going to make a lot of difference. On considering, the new Afghan government’s approach, they have only two choices. Either they could do nothing about the peace talks or could move forward on the Peace talks to prevent further bloodshed.
Years down the line in Afghanistan’s recent history during the joint U.S. and British invasion in under code named operation “Enduring Freedom” in late 2001 created a deep-rooted partnership of closeness between United States (US) and Afghanistan . On the other hand this situation produced liberal democratic acceptance within certain sections of the Afghan society. The reality was slightly different with weaker sections of communities that engaged in violent extremist ideology. Subsequently the circle of violence propelled into large scale Taliban insurgent attacks on the Afghan defense forces and on innocent civilians. The decade’s old conflict in Afghanistan has taken a devastating toll on the society both socially and economically. According to estimates at least 45,000 Afghan troops were killed since 2014. About 2300 American soldiers have died and another 20,320 service members have also been wounded in action during this period. Therefore the new Afghan government could find no easy way out of their problem imposed on them due to this dilemma.
The dead line for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is getting closer, yet US remain committed towards political stability of Afghanistan. On a positive note the US and the international community assurance of US$ 15. 2 billion as civilian assistance at the Brussels conference in 2016 was a farsighted approach to stabilize the situation.
In this context there must be a revised strategy for a permanent solution to the conflict ridden nation since US- Taliban negotiations broke down.
In order to usher a new era of peace, reconciliation and stability the president coming to power will be with a different strategy compared to the previous administration. Obviously Afghanistan occupies a geo-politically important position among the global powers. On that point these nations are bound to create conducive environments for a successful peace process to commence amongst the conflicting parties. In this hostile situation, the future hope of a permanent solution to the domestic conflict lies in a homegrown political settlement. Nonetheless the new Afghan government requires building national confidence and reviving the economy that creates employment opportunities.
This process of decision-making begins with policy choices that lead to internal and external outcomes. In Conclusion the domestic and external policy outcomes are subjected to some process of bargaining and power sharing procedures among the stakeholders. Confidently expanding Afghanistan’s bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation will be of great mutual benefit for the new foreign policy outlook.
The author is a Doctoral Fellow at Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), India and a Global Editor of Diplomatic Society for South Africa. He won the 2018/2019 Best Journalist of the year award in South Africa.
Jalal Shams is the current Advisor to the Afghanistan Social Democratic Party (ASDP) on international affairs and media relations is mid-career professional working for the Afghanistan Airfields Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) at the Presidential Palace.
By: Srimal Fernando and Jalal Shams