The Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, in collaboration with People’s SAARC and The Origin, organized a symposium titled “Afghanistan: A Regional Perspective” on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, in the Tagore Hall of the varsity. The symposium focused mostly on issues of peace and security in post 2014 scenario in Afghanistan.
The welcome address was presented by Prof Badrul Alam, Head, Political Science JMI. The symposium was spread over three sessions with Mr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India, speaking of the interrelated issues of challenges to democracy in Afghanistan, role of Taliban after 2014 and the signing of Bilateral Security Agreement between United States of America and Afghanistan in the first session. “What happens in Afghanistan or in the region affects us all in multiple and complex ways. The challenges to democracy in Afghanistan now and after 2014 are directly related to whether or not the international commitment of sustaining the progress that the Afghan people have made so far is continued”, the Afghan Ambassador said, adding that not fulfilling the promises would not only victimize Afghan people again but also endanger international peace and security. He went on to stress upon the need for collective efforts for supporting and stabilizing Afghanistan and also expressed gratitude about India’s assistance to the country.
Speaking about the role that Taliban could play in post 2014 Afghanistan, Ambassador Abdali welcomed the recent negotiations between Taliban team and members of Afghan Council in Dubai but also condemned the targeting of those Taliban leaders in Pakistan from time to time who had come forward for the peace process. “We’d continue seeking to negotiate peace with those armed fighters include Taliban who’d accept our basic peace conditions including accepting Afghan constitution, denouncing violence and laying down weapons, cutting ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits and respecting the democratic gains of the past twelve years”, he stated.
Ambassador Abdali voiced that President Hamid Karzai’s delay in signing the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S. was justified. In his words, “B.S.A determines the scope of American presence and engagement in Afghanistan. Its major objective is to support a result oriented political process to restore peace in Afghanistan. So, President Karzai has justifiably waited to sign it unless he is fully convinced that the signing of the B.S.A would lead to immediate launching of a result oriented peace process owned and led by Afghan people and the government.” He concluding by saying that everything else would be “a house of cards if we don’t address the issue of security in Afghanistan”.
The second session, chaired by Prof S.A.M Pasha of the Department of Political Science JMI, saw Former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr M. K. Bhadrakumar speaking about the future of Afghanistan and the role of regional players. He reminisced the grim time when he used to work in Afghanistan during President Najibullah’s time and went on to speak of the broad scenario in Afghanistan now and the regional – political context in which it is to be put. “I am cautiously optimistic about the post 2014 scenario. The mainstream opinion is that Afghanistan will descend into mindless violence and civil war. I don’t see that happening.” However, he didn’t seem very optimistic about regional politics, given that it was getting more complicated and competitive.
He added that the elections that are going to take place are showing some interesting features. “Candidacies that have come up are cutting across ethnicity and region. An Afghan variant of democracy is taking place in terms of native features and unless negative conditions arrive, its prospects of thriving are reasonably good”, Ambassador Bhadrakumar stated.
He termed the prospect of peace and security as being the most crucial for post 2014 scenario and also highlighted the ability of the Afghan forces to hold ground. “The prognosis of armchair experts about Soviet leaving Afghanistan was that once they did so, the country would go to dogs and that the army would disintegrate and disappear. It was refuted; the Afghan armed forces pulled their socks up and showed their mettle.” Among other things he highlighted were the need for India to recognize that Pakistan has legitimate interests in Afghanistan and also the importance for help from the outside world to Afghanistan while giving space to let the Afghan people handle things in their own traditional way.
The third session coordinated by Prof Rani Mullen, Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar at Afghan Study Centre of the Academy of International Studies JMI, saw Jamia students Zubair Malik and Abdul Hadi Barak speaking about the administrative issues in Afghanistan while Abdur Rashid Lodin, a student at Delhi University spoke of the unfair association of terrorism to Afghanistan. Concluding the symposium, Prof. Mullen spoke of the dearth of serious academic work in India on Afghanistan and said “it is heartening to see that this has started to happen in Jamia, University of Delhi and other places.”