AFGHANISTAN....WHAT SAY THE VETERANS WHO PASSED PART D 376 YRS BACK.....AND DONE STAFF COLLEGE ETC ETC...LETS HAVE SOME DEBATE ON THIS..HERE..LUCKILY WE HAVE NO PART D..WE ONLY HV..PARTLY CEEE IN NAVY..AND HENCE NAVAL VETERANS NOT ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE...BUT STILL SOME LIKE DEEPAK SIKAND WILL...RGDS..SHARAN XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Relevant issues, warrant serious consideration Afghanistan: Not for us to clean up. Mohan Guruswamy June 9, 2014 The American drawdown has begun and it is only a matter of time before it becomes a cascade. As the USA begins to pull out its NATO allies will ensure that they are not out hanging on a limb. The West after this rather disastrous experience has begun to look at countries it can pass the can to. Among the foremost is India. And Indian diplomats, professional and self styled, real and voluntary, and many others just as out of touch with reality are even now seeking a role for India into this ever-expanding morass. The heady economic growth of the past decade has resulted in a strutting Indian diplomacy. When the European financial crisis began cascading, India was generous with a $10 billion contribution to the stabilization fund. Nowadays Indian diplomats talk extravagantly about investing $10 billion in the Aynak iron ore mines and in a steel plant in the region. The fact that there is a glut of both, iron ore and steel completely eludes them. Besides the Government of India is too broke to sink $10 billion as a never to come back grant. If the government intends Indian companies to make the investment needed to fashion a nebulous reality, no Indian financial institution will risk lending to an Indo-Afghan entity. No insurance company will insure the project against all the well-known and additional risks we know lurk there. And who will consume the steel produced? When South Block conjures up plans like this, they inevitably have foundations of hot air. The argument for an active Indian policy in Afghanistan is that if the situation in that historically uncontrollable country is not controlled it will spill over into India. This is quite nonsensical. India doesn’t have a border with Afghanistan. It’s not without some irony that a country that was fashioned to be a buffer against Russian expansion is now seen as India’s threat. But India has Pakistan as its buffer. If that Afghan situation were to spill out it will spill out mostly into Pakistan, a country quite dedicated to our destruction. No one country has played a more deleterious role in unleashing chaos in Afghanistan as Pakistan, and it is only Pakistan, because of its unique history and geography that can still play an active role in Afghanistan. We must never forget that half the Pashtun nation lives in Pakistan. And to understand what is Afghanistan we only have to recall the words of Afghanistan’s great poet, Khushal Khan Khattak: “Son, one word I have for thee, Fear no one and no one you flee. Pull out your sword and slay any one, That says Pashtun and Afghan are not one. Arabs know this and so do Romans, Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans.” Afghanistan only emerged as a country-of-sorts in the mid-18th century, when Ahmad Khan, later Ahmad Shah, leader of the Abdali contingent in the Persian army of Nadir Shah the Great, carved out a buffer zone between Persia and a crumbling Mughal empire in the Indian subcontinent. This later evolved into a buffer zone between Czarist Russia and British India. As a consequence of the May 1879 Treaty of Gandamak after the Second Afghan War, Britain had taken control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs. This treaty also gave Britain control over traditional Pashtun territory west of the Indus including Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. After the Panjdeh incident a joint Anglo-Russian boundary commission, without any Afghan participation, fixed the Afghan border with Turkestan, which was the whole of Russian Central Asia, now Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Thus, as a consequence of the competition between Britain and Russia, a new country, the Afghanistan we know today, was created to serve as the buffer. The USA’s National Intelligence Council’s 2008 report “Global Trends 2025” has this to say about Pakistan’s prospects: “The future of Pakistan is a wildcard in considering the trajectory of neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas probably will continue to be poorly governed and the source or supporter of cross-border instability. If Pakistan is unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line, maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of the Punjabis in Pakistan and the Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.” If this is so, should it worry us too much? Now lest take a reality check on the Afghan situation. With a population of 29.82 million Afghanistan has a GDP of $26 billion, placing it among the poorest countries in the world. It ranks 173 out of 177 in the world HDI rankings. The GDP is growing at about 3.5%, which is about the same as Pakistan’s. But what this GDP is made up should cause us sleepless nights. Almost 35% of the GDP is due to grants from western sources, Saudi Arabia and some from countries like India. Since 2002, the USA has expended about $100 billion on non-military aid to Afghanistan, but during the same period it has also spent $642 billion on military operations in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s own revenues account for less than 10% of its GDP. Quite clearly, without this continued burn rate of western aid Afghanistan’s GDP will undergo a massive contraction, something few countries can emerge from without irrevocably and irretrievably changing. Just not to fall off the treadmill Afghanistan needs an annual grant-in-aid package of about $12 billion. Military operations will cost much more. Of this, only Germany has made a commitment of about $587 million annually, but only till 2016. The other numbers in Afghanistan are equally distressing. The total exports from Afghanistan are estimated to be about $2.5 billion a year, out of which the illegal opium trade accounts for about $2 billion. In 2013 Afghanistan produced close to 7000 tons of opium and converted almost 670 tons of heroin. Heroin was first synthesized by a chemist called Felix Hoffman for the Bayer company in Germany, which gave it the rather evocative name derived from the Greek heros as it made one feel so, at least while it lasted. Afghanistan now produces 87% of the world’s heroin. Other estimates suggest that Afghanistan accounts for 92% of the world’s non-pharma grade opiates. It produces more narcotics than Colombia, Bolivia and Peru together. How well the USA/NATO war was prosecuted is reflected by best by just this one yardstick. In the Taliban period the total area under opium cultivation was just 30 sq. kms. During the ISAF occupation this increased to about 285 sq.kms. The pressure to cultivate opium is huge. Opium earns about $16000 per h.a while wheat just fetches about $1600 per h.a. The total value of “legal” exports from Afghanistan are estimated to be about $376 million, of which $154 billion is to India and most of the rest is to Pakistan. Afghanistan now imports almost seventeen times that, which leaves it with a trade deficit of $8.52 billion. But with the grant munificence Afghanistan has a positive Current Account Balance of 1.7% of GDP. This further underscores the dependence on grants-in-aid. Meanwhile Afghanistan’s population grows. Each day 2134 are born and 961 die. This means that the country has over 1100 boys born each day or about 400,000 each year, who must begin their process of modernization five years hence with modern education. Otherwise they will only provide more recruits for the jihadi madrasas and become cannon fodder. But Afghanistan’s situation is not entirely without any hope. For a mountainous and mostly desert country, Afghanistan has a fairly large available arable acreage. It has 8 million hectares of it, but right now exploits only 1.6 million. It also has sufficient water resources, but its rivers mostly flow into the Indus and Pakistan does not allow Afghanistan, either by direct pressure or more unorthodox means, to develop these resources for agriculture. Fruit and vegetable production was in excess of $800 million last year, and contribute hugely to its exports. The scope for expanding this great, but Pakistan’s water aggressiveness needs to be curbed to benefit Afghanistan. This is easier said than done, for Pakistan is now among the more water stressed regions in the world. Despite this, Afghanistan’s situation remains pretty dismal. To be able to prosecute the war against the Taliban and also grow at a useful rate to meet the demands of its fast growing population, Afghanistan needs about $2 billion a month. In 1992 after the Russians precipitously pulled out of Afghanistan, it took a dole of $300 million from Russia to enable the Najibullah government hold on. A month after it was stopped, the Najibullah government collapsed. In 1841 William McNaughten sent a message to the Governor General in Calcutta that read, “What can you do with a kingdom whose revenues are only Rs.15 lakhs a year?” Afghanistan then had a revenue equivalent of $20,000. Now it has revenue of about only $2.6 billion and receives four times as much as grants to barely stay afloat. When the West pulls out the money spigot will soon run dry. In recent days there has been urgency to their efforts to pass the can to others. India’s name is foremost. And many Indians who should know better go about the globe prattling about how important it is for India to remain engaged in that country. Much as we may like to, we just cannot afford it. Afghanistan is too high cost an endeavor. Those who turned it into the mess it is now did not consult us when they went there. We must insist that they clean it up. It is not for us to do so. (Mohan Guruswamy sent this from Berlin where he is taking part in an international conference on Afghanistan)
Posted on: Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:56:39 +0000

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