pak afghan relations 2021


PAK AFGHAN RELATIONS IN CURRENT SCENARIO: On the morning of September 11, 2001, over the period of a few hours, Afghanistan went from being one of Washington’s lowest foreign policy priorities to its highest. Less than a month later, U.S personnel were deployed to Afghanistan to help Afghans topple the Taliban Regime. Before the end of December, a U.S-backed interim government was installed in Kabul and began the task of rebuilding the country institutions and infrastructure.

A new constitution was adopted in 2004, and the country first democratic presidential elections were held later that year. The reemergence of the Taliban in 2006 as an insurgency and an increasingly formidable force, together with an improvement in the security situation in Iraq, led the United states to implement a military and Civilian surge in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. Subsequently Washington adopted a plan to end combat operations in 2014 and to gradually withdraw all U.S troops by 2016.

As planned, U.S and NATO led combat operations largely ended in 2014 but Taliban persistence and the ongoing dependence of Afghan Security forces on U.S and NATO support required maintaining a residual force of around 10,000 U.S troops and several thousand more from NATO partners. They remained as part of a NATO-led military coalition to train, advise, and assist Afghan Security forces. some Additional U.S forces also remained for counterterrorism operations.


Following the signing in Doha in February 2020 of the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan and the Taliban( The Doha Agreement), the United States of America reduced its troops presence to around 4,500 while negotiation-know as Afghan Peace Negotiations, began between the Afghan government and the Taliban. This reduction was than required by the Doha agreement. Trump Administration continued to significantly reduce the U.S military presence in Afghanistan. On January 15, 2021, the Pentagon announced that U.S troops levels in Afghanistan had been reduced to 2,500, but that future reduction would be condition based.




The question arises in every one mind, what are America’s goals in Afghanistan

  • Prevent Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups from attacking the United States of America or our allies. This threat is now limited by the military presence of the United states of America and its allies. Enabling Afghan security forces to continue to put pressure on these groups.
  • Prevent terrorist groups and other extremist groups from obtaining nuclear weapons or materials. Small groups located in Afghanistan but focused on the India-Pakistan rivalry also pose a threat, especially to regional stability. Concern remain about the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of a terrorist organization.
  • Maintain regional Stability: The maintenance of regional stability is a core U.S. Interest. The possibility of war between nuclear-armed state represent the greatest concern in the region. An unstable Afghanistan could contribute to the destabilization of the region.
  • Help sustain an Afghan state able to contain or control extremism, illicit narcotics, mass migration, and other potential threats. An unstable Afghanistan increases the likelihood of Afghanistan reverting to a safe heaven for terrorists financed by transnational criminality, especially illegal narcotics.
  • Maintain U.S Influence: Maintain the credibility of U.S Foreign Policy and preserving the integrity of our alliances are American national interests that transcend any country or region. The outcome of the U.S and NATO mission in Afghanistan will impact the willingness of allies to support our endeavours in the future.
  • Security: The current threat to the United states from terrorist groups based in Afghanistan is diminished because of the efforts of the U.S trained and U.S supported ANDSF and the continued pressure provided by the U.S military presence.


Afghanistan is a textbook example of a fragile state given its broken social contract, weak institutions, and the disputed legitimacy of its government. The state is dependent for its survival on donor funding. The Afghan state will remain unable to raise sufficient revenues to sustain itself for many years to come, especially if the conflict continue. The United states of America defined four guiding goals to bring peace in Afghanistan :

  • PREVENTION: The United States of America will establish and support capabilities to engage in peacebuilding and anticipate and prevent violent conflict before it erupts.
  • STABILIZATION: The United states of America will support inclusive political processes to resolve ongoing violent conflict, emphasizing meaningful participation of youth, women and members of faith based communities and marginalized groups, respect for human rights, and environmental sustainability.
  • PARTNERSHIP: The United states of America will promote burden-sharing and encourage and work with partners to create conditions for long term stability and foster private sector-led growth.
  • MANAGEMENT: The United states will maximize U.S taxpayer dollars and realize more effective out-comes through better prioritization, integration and focus on efficiency across the U.S government and partner.
  • Keep our allies and partners engaged.
  • Encouraged stakeholder to play a neutral or constructive role.
  • Put Pressure on both parties to the Afghan Peace Negotiations to remain engaged.
  • Lay the foundation for the long term integration of Afghanistan into the region (socially, economically, politically and eventually with a security architecture).


Afghanistan has been dependent on external subsidies for most of the past two decades. After the former Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in 1989, the Afghan state was able to survive with ongoing material support from the Soviet Union. It was only when those subsidies were withdrawn in 1992 that the state collapsed, leading to a decade of civil war and Taliban rule.

In Post-2001 period, when the international community pledged to rebuild Afghanistan, the pattern of donor dependence returned and intensified. After two decades later, the government and security sector remain dependent on funding from the international community. Over time, Afghanistan can reduce its dependence on donor support especially if it gains stability through a political agreement, if security costs are reduced, and if the potential for economic productivity is realized.

In 2018, the Afghan government raised $ 2.2 billion of its own revenues, 11.3 percent of GDP, less than three percentage points below the average for other low income countries. This progress will be reversed due to the economic effects of Covid-19. Afghanistan is extraordinarily dependent on aid, which in total exceeds $ 8 billion per year, equivalent to over 40 percent of GDP. This assistance is provided through different channels.

The effects of Covid-19 on an already poor and vulnerable population means that poverty rates have risen from 55 percent in 2017 to as high as 72 percent today. At the same time, net domestic revenues are expected to fall by about 20 percent in 2020. These effects, which deepen Afghanistan dependence on donors, will be difficult to reverse, especially if the conflict continues.

In time Afghan revenues may be boosted by earning from mineral extraction or access. Nontraditional donors in the Afghanistan context include China, Iran, India, Pakistan and the the Gulf States.

In the longer term, Afghanistan has three areas of real potential for future economic growth: agriculture, minerals and transit trade. “The Opiate economy”, agriculture is dominated, in terms of economic value, by poppy cultivation. Many efforts have been made to promote high value crops that could provide an alternative to poppy cultivation to extend credit to rural households, and to develop infrastructure.


Afghanistan remains the world largest supplier of illegal opiates. Opium is one of the few reliable cash crops that Afghan farmers can grow. As a nonperishable, low weight, high value substance, it is also a store of value, making it particularly attractive during times of uncertainty. The crop generates between $1.5 billion and $3billion per year at farm gate, depending on the market price, climate yields, crop diseases, and other factors. In the past two decades, it has always been the country’s leading cash generating activity. In 2017, poppy cultivation provided up to 590,000 full time equivalent jobs more than the number of people employed by the ANDSF.

If a peace agreement is reached, a way will need to be found to restore the rule of law and reduce illicit opium production without devastating hardship on a population that, for historic reasons, has grown to depend on this underground economy.


Afghanistan is a landlocked country thousands of miles away from the United States of America, but also a state at the Center of a region marked by crucial U.S national interests. Regional stakeholder in Afghanistan and highlights the imperative to encourage regional cooperation that can enable the protection of U.S National interests in Afghanistan.


PAKISTAN ROLE IN PAK AFGHAN RELATIONS: Pakistan has always played an essential role in U.S engagement in Afghanistan. Taliban’s were trained in past in Pakistan to defeat Soviet Union forces in Afghanistan, They were consequently close links between the Taliban and the Pakistani government at all levels. After the U.S interventions in Afghanistan, Pakistan has allowed the United states to use its airspace to carry out operations i Afghanistan as well as its ports and roads to supply the U.S military presence while receiving significant U.S funding for doing so.

Pakistan has adopted the policy to make Afghanistan from instable to stable. Pakistan has generally supported the U.S efforts to negotiate with the Taliban that was publicly acknowledge in July 2018. Although Pakistan has influence over the Taliban, it does not have total control over the movement.


Iran’s relations to Afghanistan are both physical, in the form a 950-kilometer border on Afghanistan West, and intangible, in the form of a shared history and culture. Iran sees itself as a protector of Afghanistan’s Shia population, which had been the target of Taliban persecution when the movement controlled Afghanistan in the late 1990’s and its long-standing connections with Shia leaders give it a certain prominence in afghan domestic politics.

After 2001, Iran was reported to have been helpful to the overall objectives of the United states of America and the International community. Following the Bush administration’s 2003 “Axis of Evil” designation, Iran position shifted. Iran has significant leverage in domestic Afghan politics, which it uses to support the interest of the Afghan Shia population. Iran limited support for the Taliban is a calibrated, tactical policy; it does not want to see the return of a Taliban regime in Kabul. However, Iran want to see U.S troops leave and is following closely the progress of the Afghan peace talks.

Meanwhile, Iran maintains a great deal of influence over Afghan socioeconomic dynamics, having housed millions of refugees for decades, hundreds of thousands of whom have returned in recent years due to Iranian governmental pressure, lack of economic opportunities, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Iran-Afghan trade has grown to an estimated $2.8 Billion annually, and Iran offers Afghanistan an outlet to global markets. Iran’s new port at Chabahr, a joint Venture with India, opens up a new trade route that provides an alternative to Karachi and Pakistan’s new port at Gwadar.


Given the weight of the India-Pakistan rivalry over regional and even global politics, it is not surprising that India’s interests in Afghanistan have been the mirror image of Pakistan’s. Currently India has declared itself to be extremely skeptical of the peace process and unambiguously supportive of the Kabul government. The only major country in the region without some sort of relationship with the Taliban, India calls for a democratic Afghanistan with a constitution that protects basic rights; it favors continued U.S support for Afghanistan, both military and Civilian. India is worried, if USA withdrawal without conditions, it increase the risk that extremist actors would redirect their efforts towards India. At the same time, ongoing instability allows groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad to use Afghanistan as a training grounds for attacks against Indian targets in Afghanistan


Russia shares this interest in regional stability. Russian Federation’s goal is a peaceful, independent , and sustainable Afghanistan, free of terrorism and illicit drugs, that exists in harmony with both its close and its more remote neighbours. Russia share U.S concerns about extremist threats emanating from the country and has its own concerns about illegal narcotics as well. Russia favors a negotiated solution to the Afghan conflict and in recent years hosted talks between the Taliban and a represented group of Afghans, including some designated by the government in Kabul. This Moscow format was suspended once the United states of America entered into direct talks with the Taliban.


To the north, the Central Asian States share an interest in Afghan stability and have begun to play a more active and constructive role in encouraging that development, with Uzbekistan in particular emerging as proactive supporter of the peace process. To the south, Saudia Arabia remains the most important Middle eastern country for Afghanistan. Absent a large overt presence on the ground, Saudia Arabia mostly amplifies Pakistani priorities while using soft power to promote Sunni politics.


The United Arab emirates, with the commercial entrepot and second home of the Afghan elite, Dubai, could amplify its role, while Qatar prominence rises as it hosts the Taliban delegation and the ongoing peace talks.


A stable Afghanistan would benefit the entire region by increasing trade and connectivity, creating investment opportunities, reducing the export of extremism and illicit activities and releasing capital now spent on destructive activities for construction purposes. Stable Afghanistan would satisfy all regional players :

  • It will be peace with itself and with others.
  • Does not allow its territory to be used for attacks on other countries.
  • It will not be the venue for proxy warfare.
  • It will not be the source of illicit narcotics or refugees.
  • It will be economically integrated with the region.
  • It will Encourage the regional states individually to take active steps to pressure one or both Afghan sides to continue with the peace process and to propose and accept compromises.
  • It will build consensus among parties.
  • It will encourage consistent rhetorical support for the process and its outcomes
  • Spur action to pressure the Afghan parties to follow through with the implementation of any agreement or agreements they reach.
  • It will generate financial and other material support for implementation. Promote tolerance of the U.S and NATO military presence in Afghanistan at least while the peace process continues or if it collapses.


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