Unless the Central Asian states, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and Russia jointly contribute towards ensuring stability, Afghanistan is likely to fall to the Taliban again or even break up.
India will remain a card in the hand of any future Afghan dispensation (whether Taliban or anti-Taliban) to strengthen its negotiating position with Pakistan.
Whatever John R. Schmidt’s aims, the arguments that he has employed do not stand the test of casual perusal leave alone scrutiny.
The subject assumes significance in view of the politics evolving around the idea of negotiating peace, especially with the Taliban, as the West plans to withdraw bulk of their troops by 2014.
In a positive movement, ISAF’s peace enforcement operation over time will have to shift to peacekeeping. Thinking through the idea of UN-SAARC hybrid peacekeeping mission now could help catalyse the peace process eventually.
Both India and Pakistan must immediately review their security practices for the protection of vital and vulnerable national assets, which in Pakistan’s case must also include nuclear weapons.
India should seek a regional solution to the Afghan conflict, involving a regional force under a UN flag to provide a stable environment for governance and development till the Afghan National Army can take over.
India needs to engage countries in the region to ensure that the transition process in Afghanistan does not threaten regional stability.
The US needs to take direct charge of the peace talks prong of strategy to meet the mid-2011 deadline of beginning its troops withdrawal as well as to enable NATO departure by 2014.