The realities of the prevailing Afghan situation have, it seems, prompted the US Administration to negotiate with the government at Kabul, without an input from the Taliban, the US-Afghan strategic partnership agreement that has been in the pipeline for quite some time. The badly conceived policy of simultaneously waging war against the Taliban and trying to coax them into negotiating a formula of withdrawal, acceptable to both the sides, was bound to fail, as Islamabad had been repeatedly warning Washington. Thus, US officials have not so far been able to bring round even the ‘good’ Taliban to sit across them and discuss the political arrangement in Afghanistan after the US and other foreign forces had left the country. According to an AFP report emanating from Kabul, an initial draft of the strategic accord has been mutually agreed upon. Its details have not been made public; it is, however, subject to the Afghan Parliament’s approval, which is likely to take it up any time in the near future. Another reason for the American compulsion to present before the home public framework of a peacefully working political arrangement in the troubled land after the US had pulled out was the presidential election, now only a few months away. In order to help the prospects of President Obama’s re-election, he wanted to show the US citizens that things were moving in accordance with his commitments to end the war and leave behind a functioning democratic order that would pose no threat to the US.

However, there is little chance that things would work out as Washington has planned. The troop withdrawal slogan hides the reality that the US only intends to end ‘combat operations’ but keep a sizeable presence to be used whenever called upon by the local authorities to intervene in case they fail to sustain peace. That is the crux of the strategic accord. For the US, the real motive for invading Afghanistan might be to find a foothold in the country to influence events in Central Asia and beyond, but for the Afghans, brought up in the centuries-old tradition of freedom, it is a recipe for continuing revolt and bloodshed. The Afghans (Taliban) would never agree to such an arrangement. Peace would remain elusive, posing a serious threat to Pakistan and keeping other countries in the region destabilised.

The best endgame to the devastating war would have been a regional solution spearheaded by the Afghans in close association with Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. The OIC, had it been a functional body, would have been an ideal institution to take up the job. The Afghan government should be under no illusion about achieving peace and harmony in the country if it concedes the American demand of stationing troops beyond 2014. The scenario would not permit the Afghans to follow an independent policy of their own and at the same time it would incur the ire of other powers, like China and Russia. They must also not let India, in alliance with the US to contain China, interfere in its affairs. Pakistan must be on guard against the prospects of being the next target in this unholy game of destabilisation.