Millennium Post

ISAF plans to leave Afghanistan via Iran

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) plans to leave Afghanistan, New Delhi is telling them not to take the Pakistan route. Instead, India is urging them, the ISAF to consider two alternative routes of egress. One is through Central Asia and the other, Iran. This was stated by sources here that have the knowledge about the Indian advice.

Indian officials are distinctly in favour of the Iranian route for the ISAF as it reaches the Persian Gulf where evacuation by large ships can take place. On the other hand, the Central Asian route would call for immense logistical problems as it would call for air-lifts.

But, of course, NATO cannot look at Iran yet, considering that European Union has imposed sanctions on Tehran. But then they have fewer choices.

Reports from international sources claim that ISAF is not even too happy with exiting from Uzbekistan because the negative human rights records of the Tashkent regime of Islam Karimov.

New Delhi, meanwhile, is searching for options, which can facilitate its own role. In a meeting held last month in Moscow, Russia, China and India searched for ‘good’ options in Afghanistan, which they do not want to desert just yet. In fact, they are planning on staying back at least till it is feasible after the departure of the American forces and their ISAF allies.

Knowledgeable sources say that in that meeting China seemed keen to have its own security forces to be around their investment projects in the country. India was more willing to continue its humanitarian activities. And, Russia is more concerned about maintaining stability in the Central Asian nations at its eastern borders. More importantly, they did not yet reach a point where they could plan joint activities.

Indian observers are growing increasingly pessimistic about the fate of Afghanistan as some of them speculate that Afghan National Army (ANA) that already has 14 per cent desertion rate and can disintegrate into tribal lines, for they will not be sure about who would pay their salaries and other benefits.

In the light of these concerns here in the country, an important development is the recent visit of the Iran’s potential presidential candidate and presently, the Speaker of the Majlis, Ali Larijani. The Iranians explored the cause of the minority Shi’ites and Hazaras in case of the potential takeover by the Taliban forces.

One possibility that is being foreseen here is that the Western powers create a situation that they accept a nominal presidency of a pliant president after the 2014 presidential polls. In that divided Afghanistan, Pakistan’s influence will, of course, have a major play.
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