Heart of Asia conference: a platform of no avail for Afghanistan


by Masud Wadan, for VT

If you come to know the massive though treacherous deals taking place these days within Afghan government, you will get shocked.

In less than a year and a half into power, the incumbents of the dual leadership govt. have taken Afghanistan on a more rapid descent into a quagmire that is difficult to get out of.

Afghanistan has recently been spectator of a spate of raids on political analysts who were speaking of government dysfunction or issues it was allergic to. The raids were widely marked as “attack on freedom of speech”, this is while the “National Unity Government” looks to be more stringent and repressive.

Few weeks back, Ahmed Saeedi, a renowned Afghan political analyst narrowly survived an assassination attempt after unknown gunmen shot him in the head. The raid was the first blow to the freedom of critics.

In a week, city of Kabul has hosted a string of house raids including the one on Spanish embassy. It reveals the government as feeble to secure the heart of capital.

Kabul has frequently been responded with deadly suicide bombings or armed raids whenever Afghan president or his proxy was on outing to attend a regional or international conference on “peace” or “stability”. These incidents must not be deemed as “routine attacks”, though it indicates the warring sides oppose any world assembly about peace.

Ashraf Ghani’s comments in the wake of “Heart of Asia conference” in Islamabad about a joint anti-terrorism measure follows his contrary remarks about that Pakistan is in “an undeclared war with Afghanistan”.

The narratives about the conference were just as old ones. “Peace is the focal point and we’ll follow our efforts through the end to achieve it”. “Haqqani’s terrorist network should be annihilated”. “Regional countries should join hands to fight terrorism”. They are what we keep listening since long.

This was the fifth conference of its kind being held in the regional countries, yet none has had practical aspect.

Afghan people believe the expectation for productivity of the Heart of Asia conference is confined to the speech. Tens of other conferences and meetings just like it have taken place in less than a-decade-and-a-half in the first quarter of the century. The desired outcome was either void or negligible.

The first post-conference milestone in Afghanistan was the resignation of Afghan intelligence chief, Rahmatullah Nabeel. Although he is said to have resigned willingly which is still vague on details, there were uproars about pressures from Islamabad on Kabul to sack him. He was reportedly countering the intelligence sharing agreement with Pakistan’s ISI.

Nabeel was in dispute with presidential authorities over its submissive stance towards Pakistan particularly with respect to intelligence affairs.

Ashraf Ghani, at a press conference here sharply rejected rumors about Nabeel’s removal at the request of Pakistan. Reports say Nabeel was dismissed when he blew the whistle on Ghani’s performances through his facebook page. He had issues with the new leaders.

Also an unofficial report states that Kandahar province’s Police Chief Abdul Razeq who is famous nationwide for his firm anti-Taliban action in and around Kandahar province is as well marked as person “to get rid of”, just as Nabeel was disqualified.

Kandahar airport on Wednesday came under mass attack of heavily-armed gunmen whose objective was to open indiscriminate fire on civilian and military personnel. The attack left around 40 people dead and dozens injured.

The plot was meant to discredit Razeq as eligible commander for police headquarter. The more fatalities occur in the attack, the more chance “enemies of Afghanistan” get to take him away.

The two predecessors of Nabeel have also gone through the same challenge to leave the position. The country’s spy agency has been volatile, controversial and under watchful eye of Pakistan, for its constructive role play in thwarting of terror attacks and militant movements.

Regional hands have invested on notorious persons to take up the critical slots – particularly security positions. And I think it is high-time to put “them” in place of the “removable ones”.

When Ashraf Ghani gave precedence to Pakistan in a failed effort to establish peace in Afghanistan, it met with the death of Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Omar which casted shadow over the relations between the states. Now, it is uncertain what repercussion would the death rumors of Mullah Omar’s substitute Mullah Mansoor would bring along to the people of Afghanistan.

The Islamic State’s planning is on the path of materialization. The terror group is invisibly working to build a large-scale force in the country’s north. They are likely preparing for upcoming fatal war season starting in spring.

According to reports, family members of the Islamic State fighters have settled in the parts of northern Baghlan province, while Dand-e Ghaoori area of this province was formerly abandoned for hundreds of Taliban militants who now enjoy immunity from attack by govt. forces.

This is part of efforts to relocate the militant strongholds into the northern regions.

Second vice president to CEO Abdullah warned of Islamic State’s deadly campaign in the next year. This is while Russian TASS news agency writes a really shocking piece about Afghanistan. It says Afghan acting defense minister Masoom Stanikzai and head of Afghan Security Council, Hanif Atmar are behind the transportation of IS fighters into northern provinces of Afghanistan.

With such ideas in minds of Afghan authorities, Russia would no doubt turn away as a goodwill military supplier. This major power hasn’t yet given green light to the Afghan govt.’s list of military supplies, out of concerns that the Islamic State is on build-up in the northern Afghanistan.

Moscow will remain vigilant to Islamic State’s activities as it believes the group sets sights on the Central Asian nations as the next battleground.

Russia the other day went to hold an anti-Islamic State conference in Moscow. This may be as initial steps to fight this menace. The conference was attended by representatives from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Russia.

On the other hand, Iran had earlier warned that if Islamic State attempts to creep up on Iranian border with Afghanistan, it will directly target them inside Afghan soil.

Nowadays, issue of concern among experts is the growing influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan. Afghan govt. is now living under circumstances, which has to give up more concessions to Pakistan in conferences, agreements or any deal.

A breakthrough that is sort of music to the ears of the bogus Afghan economy is inauguration of TAPI gas pipeline project. What is expected of the project on top of occupations is to provide the people with security at least within kilometers along the pipeline, if not far beyond.

TAPI gas pipeline project which is supplying natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan is said to have not been immune from Taliban’s threat. Although, the pipeline extends across some restive and rebel-held areas, some Taliban commanders have been promised big amount of money by two signatory parties of this deal as extortion, and the Taliban have agreed to this.

A local Taliban commander in Bala Baluk area of western Farah province of Afghanistan has said Iran has prodded them to storm infrastructural projects including mainly TAPI gas pipeline. Iranian revolutionary regime has scrambled to extend the gas supply line through its territory to Pakistan.



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