Training offer to Afghan Army
March 4, 2010 1 Comment
Dr Raja M Khan:
On January 26-27, 2010, the NATO’s Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Staff (CHODs) held its meeting in Brussels. Sixty-two chiefs of defence staff attended it from NATO as well as other troops contributing countries. As a coalition partner in the global war on terror, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, was also invited to participate in the meeting. During the meeting, General Kayani adequately highlighted the role played by Pakistan in the war on terror. Indeed, Pakistan lost over twenty five thousand innocent lives during last nine years, since the beginning of this war. The casualties of security forces of Pakistan are many times more than what the coalition and Afghans forces have collectively suffered in these years. General Kayani’s presentation on the Pakistan’s contribution indeed, removed the misperception of the NATO countries about the Pakistani role in the global war on terror. Sequel to this meeting General Kayani, briefed the foreign and domestic press about the outcome of the meeting in Rawalpindi. During the course of the meeting, he categorically said that, “We cannot wish for Afghanistan anything that we don’t wish for Pakistan.” Since Pakistanis desire peace, stability, and economic prosperity for their country, therefore, they ought to wish similar comforts for their brethrens of Afghanistan. Furthermore, three decades of war, factional fighting, and the internal instability in Afghanistan has brought us to the conclusion that, stability and peace in Pakistan is directly proportional to these factors in Afghanistan.
In the aftermath of US invasion of Afghanistan, India, a noncontiguous country, intruded in Afghanistan in a big way. Initially it assumed the responsibility of reconstruction of infrastructure of Afghanistan, but subsequently, it convinced the Afghan administration, which mainly comprises of Indian backed Northern Alliance, to take over the responsibilities of other projects in that country. So much so, that Indian Army was given the responsibility to undertake the training of Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan secret services and Afghan National Police (ANP). Besides, the Indian training teams, training Afghans on their soil, over 100 Afghan senior defence officials are being trained every year in India’s military institutions.
It is worth mentioning that a huge number of the Indian army officers and lower ranks have been especially deputed to teach basic military field-crafts and English-language skills to personnel of ANA. Afghan police officers and foreign ministry officials have also attended training courses in India. Afghanistan is getting Indian help in the training of Afghan pilots and technicians for using its helicopter-gunships. It is to be noted that the current intake into the Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP) and most of the bureaucracy is mostly from the minority group of Northern Alliance, with an insignificant strength of the majority Pashtun population. Astoundingly, the majority Pashtun now feel marginalized in their own homeland. As per survey, Pashtuns forming over 55 percent of Afghan population, but being offered only 10-15 percent share in the military and other services of the country.
The most significant issue is the education system of Afghanistan. India has been assigned the role of revitalization of the Afghan educational system. What a pity that the educational system of an Islamic country is being founded by a non-Muslim country. It is to the imagination of the Afghan people, as to how would be its future generation after having been graduated under the Indian founded educational system. In addition, the security setup of that country having Indian trained ANA, ANP and spying agency. Pakistan feels that Indian trained ANA and ANP will be on the warpath to all its neighbours, mainly Muslim countries, and People’s Republics of China. Apart from its geographically contagious neighbours, these Indian trained troops will be in conflict with basic Muslim cultural and social setup of that country. Besides, promoting internal clashes, these troops will maintain the current state of volatility, distrust, and enmity with Pakistan for a foreseeable future. Indeed India and Afghanistan are two different countries, with different values, culture, and different future requirements. Therefore, the Indian trained ANA would further destabilize the region as a whole. This state of affairs would neither suits NATO and US nor to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
After having realized the enduring uncooperative effects, the Pakistani Army Chief offered Afghan Government for the assistance in the training of ANA and ANP. Indeed, this step would greatly reduce the current instability and hostilities along the Pak-Afghan border by promoting harmony among the security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, both countries share common terrain and borders to defend. Moreover, they have the similar cultural and historical values and backdrops and ideological harmony. This is only possible once there are common trainers having corresponding training parameters.
To me, it appears that like other Muslims of the world, Afghans too have short memories. Had they forgotten the experience of getting their Army trained from the former Soviet Union in 1970s? The result of the Soviet trained troops, teachers, doctors, other officials, and even politicians brought them in clash with the traditional Afghan society in 1970s. That clash of ideas finally led to the Soviet invasion. Afghan society had enough of that, in the form of thirty years factional fighting, foreign invasions, and internal strife. Do they still want Russian like Indian invasion? Afghan should question themselves and later from their Indian friends too, that, why they (Indians) are so much concerned about Afghan people. Why should they forget the Indian role during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s? Being part of the Communist camp, India fully supported the Soviet Union at the UNO and regionally and considered the invasion as lawful. Indeed, India had to get validation for its own invasion in Kashmir and later in the Sri Lanka.
Afghans should know that India otherwise has a global agenda and sweating to become a global power. Majority of nationalist Hindus consider that the Indian borders can still be expanded on the basis of the Ashoka’s Empire, to fulfill the dream of Greater India or the “Akhand Bharat“. Indian strategists visualize a future India, whose borders would overlaps with the Greater Persia in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountains. Indeed, while engulfing whole of the South Asia and parts of China, Indian planners foresee to extend their physical influence up to Central Asia.There is a philosophy and vision behind the Pakistani offer for the training of ANA and ANP. Pakistan does not want to be at ease along the Pak-Afghan border through the offer. Indeed, it aims to bring the stability in the Afghanistan in the first phase and stabilization of the whole region thereafter. Besides, the offer would help in the implementation of the President Obama’s recently conceived “exit strategy” from Afghanistan, largely by paving way for the gradual restitution of peace in the region.
The vision behind the offer is that “We cannot wish for Afghanistan anything that we don’t wish for Pakistan.” What all Pakistan wish for is a peaceful, stable and friendly Afghanistan. If visualized precisely, the Coalition forces and Afghan administration should be very happy on this offer, as it would surely lessen the ceaseless fighting in Afghanistan in the near future. Did not successful Pakistani military operations during 2009, help in lessening the militancy in Afghanistan, by constricting space for the terrorists. This evidence indeed should become a lead point for the materialization of the Pakistani offer of the training to ANA and ANP. This indeed would be a “win-win for Afghanistan, the United States, ISAF, and Pakistan.”
In fact, Pakistan and Afghanistan have common values, common culture, and hence comparable stakes. They have a history of interdependence. Foreign interferences, influences, and imperialism cannot forces the people to think differently. Pakistan visualizes a peaceful, stable, and economically affluent Afghanistan. It also wishes the Afghanistan freed from the foreign interferences and forays with an ethnically cohesive society. The wish for a stable Afghanistan is the collective voice of 170 million people of Pakistan. They can no more see their Afghan Brethren in a state of melancholy.The visionary offer of the Pakistani Army Chief for the training of ANA and ANP has the backing from the whole nation. Indeed, they stood behind him in curbing the militancy from Pakistan and have the enduring desire of peace and stability in both countries. It would be another service to Afghan people if Pakistan could contribute in the educational and health sectors of that war torn country.
—The writer is a South Asian analyst.