This week’s featured graphic shows how Afghanistan’s location at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia ensures that its future will affect the dynamics of China-Russia relations in both regions. For more on The Taliban Takeover and China-Russia Relations, read Brian G. Carlson’s CSS Analysis in Security Policy here.
NEW DELHI – Despite some last-minute brinkmanship by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the United States and Afghanistan seem to have worked out a bilateral security agreement to govern the 8,000-10,000 (mostly American) troops that will remain in Afghanistan from next year. But Afghanistan remains a source of significant uncertainty – and high anxiety – in an already unstable region.
Although the Afghan army has performed surprisingly well this year as it has prepared to assume full responsibility for the country’s security, governments in the region remain deeply skeptical of its ability to resist a resurgent Taliban without the strong support that the US has provided. But the Americans are intent on withdrawal, and no other country is willing to assume the responsibilities that they are relinquishing.
In this context, the fear that Afghanistan will unravel once again risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, a closer look at various key governments’ approaches to Afghanistan reveals that only the US is maintaining a coherent stance.
As Pakistan enters its 66th year of independence, -it is a good time to take stock of the country’s internal security dynamics in order to understand how these impact upon the overall security and stability of South Asia.
According to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Pakistan Security Report, 2011 [pdf], while the country continues to rank “among the most volatile regions in the world”, there has been some improvement in its overall security situation, especially since the later part of 2011. The report states:
“The last half of the year 2011 was a period of comparative peace in Pakistan in terms of internal armed conflict, acts of terrorism and the consequent casualties. A decrease in the number of suicide attacks and drone strikes were the major contributing factors… the security situation is slowly improving as violence has decreased 24 percent in the last two years.”
The new grand bargain went into its next round. On 14 June 2012 the Heart of Asia group gathered in Kabul to push forward the Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan. The real potential for regional security and cooperation, however, remains a contentious issue. Some observers disregarded the gathering as yet another useless meeting which failed to take concrete steps towards a regional security architecture. Others like UN-Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon praised it as “real progress on the path to security and broad-based development”.