Regional stability hinges on peace in Afghanistan

Date of Publication : Tuesday 14 April 2009 08:24
Regional stability hinges on peace in Afghanistan

By Abdul Haleem, Yan Liang
KABUL, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Renowned Pakistani poet and philosopher Alama Iqbal Lahori had, in the 19th century, described Afghanistan as "the heart of Asia," and predicted that Asia's stability would always hinge on the stability in Afghanistan.

The forecast proved to be quite correct today as the continuing instability in Afghanistan has negatively affected the whole region, including the homeland of the philosopher -- over 200 people have been killed and injured in Pakistan during the past two weeks.

Afghanistan and Pakistan, both the frontline allies in the U.S. war on terror, have been confronting growing militancy, while extremism is rapidly spreading its clout in the region. A glimpse at the terrorists' tactics in both countries indicates resemblance-- ostensibly with an objective to create panic and shatter security.

The deadly terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, in November last year, followed by similar multiple suicide bombings in Kabul in February and the attack on a police training center in Lahore, Pakistan in early March, which left dozens of people dead, all speak of rapidly escalating militancy in this part of the world.

Keeping in mind the fact that militant organizations recruit fighters from across the world, extremism seems to pose a threat to the whole world's community.

Within the rank of Taliban and al-Qaida network, there are fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Arab countries, Central Asianstates, the U.S., Britain and many other countries.

As was the practice in the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, women are being confined to the four walls of their houses and people are publicly punished in Pakistan today.

The fundamentalist militia, in a blunt violation of all international norms and laws, publicly flogged a 17-year-old girl, Chand Bibi, on charge of indulging in immorality while, according to locals, the refusal by the girl to marry a Taliban fighter was the main reason for the disgusting act.

Claiming of responsibility by the leader of Pakistani Taliban movement, Baitul Mehsoud, for the last week New York shoot-out that left 13 dead, is an eye opener for the whole world.

Mehsoud, who is accused of involvement in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, has also claimed the bloody attack on the Police Training Center in Lahore early this month that left 50 dead and injured some 100 others.

According to media reports, Mehsoud, a close ally of the al-Qaida network, whose men have been fighting alongside Taliban in Afghanistan, targeting Afghan and international troops based in the country, has warned to carry out more such attacks.

Chief of al-Qaida network Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenant Ayman-Al Zawahiri, by releasing audio or video clips from their hideouts in the lawless tribal area along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, have frequently been threatening to launch more attacks.

President Barack Obama, who has approved sending additional 21,000 troops to bolster the war against militants in Afghanistan, said on April 3 at the NATO summit in Strasbourg that Al-Qaida posed a greater threat to Europe than to the United States.

Earlier on March 27, the U.S. president, while announcing a new strategy to fight militancy in Afghanistan, had emphasized that extremism and militancy would put the whole West at risk.

While unveiling the new strategy on Afghanistan, Obama had stressed, "the world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos or al- Qaida operates unchecked."

Afghanistan, as a source of instability, has been haunting the entire world and that is why over 70,000-strong U.S.-Coalition and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops have been stationed in the militancy-plagued country to strengthen peace and stability.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who visited Afghanistan on April 8 and promised enhancing the number of troops in the country, maintained that "Ensuring security to Afghanistan would ensure the security of all the world countries."

He also noted that "success in Afghanistan is a success for Afghans as well as for the whole international community."

The failure of the international community in Afghanistan may prove catastrophic for both the war-torn state and the world at large.
Story Code: 37577