‘Re-abandoning Afghanistan not an option’

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Re-abandoning Afghanistan is not an option, a noted Indian security expert said Monday, lamenting at the same time the lack of a pan-Afghanistan leadership that could run the war-ravaged nation after the expected draw down of US-led NATO forces in 2014.

‘We are not hopeful of a regional solution. What then will be Plan B,’ Vishal Chandra, a fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) wondered while addressing a two-day international conference here on ‘Energy, Transportation and Economic Links in Eurasia: Emerging Partnerships’ on its inaugural day.

‘We are not hopeful of a national consensus (on how Afghanistan should be run post-2014). It is easy to call for an American withdrawal, but what then? I can’t see Afghanistan come out of it,’ Chandra maintained while speaking during the session on ‘Support for Transition by Regional Countries.’ IDSA and the external affairs ministry have jointly organised the conference.

‘We often speak of the transition in Afghanistan. Transition to what? Is the Afghan government prepared for the transition? What if the transition fails,’ Chandra asked.

‘There is the strategic partnership agreement between the US and Afghanistan (for the post-2014 period), the contours of which are not known,’ Chandra said, adding: ‘There is nothing sacred about 2014.’

Noting that there was ‘no doubt’ that there would be some US/NATO presence in Afghanistan post-2014, he said: ‘There is some ambiguity about US policy in the region as it is linked to where a fragmented Pakistan is headed.’

What also needed to be factored in was the ‘non-inclusive ideological/political moorings of the Taliban. There is intelligence that the Taliban has not given up its plans to capture Kabul’ once the foreign troops pull out, Chandra said.

Participating in the session, Evgeny Khrushchev, a retired paratrooper who served with the Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan, said the country’s problems ‘will not be resolved till the issue is resolved’.

‘Afghanistan is now the substitute for the Golden Triangle,’ the former colonel who is now a military analyst and contributor for Russia Today TV added.

‘Narco terrorism is the new challenge for Russia and Afghanistan. There are no easy solutions, so stop hallucinating,’ Khrushchev maintained.