Experts from India, Afghanistan and United States come together at the One Day Online Conference at IIM Rohtak to discuss on the Developments in Afghanistan and Its impact on regional and global security.
Indian Institute of Management Rohtak organised a One Day Online Conference on 23rd October 2021 on “Developments in Afghanistan: Status Report of work done in last two decades”. The primary discussion of the conference was focused on various national building activities undertaken in Afghanistan by friendly countries over the last two decades and how the Taliban takeover in the state has impacted the lives of lakhs of people of Afghanistan. The conference witnessed the presence of eminent experts from India, Afghanistan, and United States like Shri M J Akbar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and Former Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Nargis Negan, former Minister of Mines, Afghanistan, Mr. Shahmahmood Miakhel, Former First Deputy Minister of Defence and Governor of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum, Director, Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies, Middle East Institute, Ambassador Jayant Prasad, Former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr. Hanif Sufizada, Centre for Afghan Studies, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain, former General Officer Commanding & Military Secretary, Dr. Shanthie Mariet D’souza, Afghanistan Expert, Col. Fahim Sayad, former Afghanistan Army Officer, and Brig. Rahul Bhonsle, Security Expert. All the speakers attempted to bring on table the developments made and an environment build by various international institutions during last two decades.
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Prof. Dheeraj Sharma, Director, IIM Rohtak, welcomed the guests and speakers to the conference. He said, the United States entered Afghanistan 20 years ago with a hope to uproot terrorism and rebuild Afghanistan. Recent events clearly indicate that despite all the efforts, the Taliban taking over has created a global crisis. Furthermore, world is not sure how the structures, infrastructure, institutions, and systems created in Afghanistan will continue to support regional stability and preclude usage of Afghan soil for international terrorism. In last two decades, Afghan constitution was made, large highway projects were undertaken, dams were built, electrification was done, schools were created, universities were rejuvenated, scholarships were offered recruitment systems were put in place, and electoral system was put in place. However, “will these institutions, systems, and structures continue after the Taliban take-over?” asked Prof Dheeraj Sharma.
The discussion of the first panel emphasized on Afghan structures and institutions and their possible impact. Shri MJ Akbar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament in his inaugural talk spoke about the history of Afghanistan. He stated that Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has now resulted in convergence of CHAFPAK (China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) which will need disciplined dealing from the international community. He said many of the systems created probably were not meant for the Afghani culture. He brought out importance of Indian support for building Afghanistan in past. Dr. Nargis Negan, Former Minister of Mines, Afghanistan said that there has news about violence, insecurity, and casualties but little news has been there about plight of Afghani women, civilian workers, media, and public sector. She also said that public institutions had been well managed by the young generation who are well educated and aware about technology but today there is a vacuum. She felt that the systems are completely at stand still right now. Mr. Hanif Sufizada talked about complete flight of talented human resources from Afghanistan. He further stated that all the hard-work of last twenty years in creating a new generation is rendered useless. He also mentioned that corruption played a very important role undermining the work of building the nation. Brig Rahul Bhonsle talked about role of Pakistan in fomenting the situation in Afghanistan but Pakistan itself will suffer the consequences of its actions in Afghanistan.
The second panel discussion started with the talk by Mr. Shahmahmood Miakhel, Former Deputy Minister of Defense and Governor of Nangahar Province. He said Taliban need to realize that taking over Afghanistan militarily is one thing but governance is another. It will need more than guns to run the country on day to day basis. He stated that Taliban may not have support of an average Afghani. Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum stated that we are back to 2001 situation. Taliban take-over may nearly washed out the twenty years of work to create a progressive society. He also stated that it may appear that Taliban takeover is Pakistani victory but this is far from truth. Vast majority of Pakistanis realize that Taliban’s way of life is not suitable for Pakistan, which is why Pakistan is reluctant in recognizing the Taliban government even today. Ambassador Jayant Prasad highlighted the impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as one third of Afghanis go to bed empty stomach today. He stated that in the past India had provided wheat to Afghanis as aid. However, it may be impossible for another country to do the same now. Dr. Shanthie D’souza spoke about how the execution of several projects which were successfully running before the accession of Taliban may stop under Taliban as Taliban are unlikely to follow the systems created. She reiterated that corruption and conflicts in the leadership made Afghanistan weak. This has eventually resulted in the complete political and economic collapse. Col Fahim stated that proxy politics has been a key reason for failure of Afghan state. He further stated that the current situation is because of Afghan leadership catastrophe. He said, “Leaders are supposed to be the last one standing but in case of Afghanistan our leader was the first to disappear”. Prof. Sharma questioned the panelist on drug trade arising from Afghanistan. The panelists discussed the drug trade which has consequences for international terror funding. With Taliban take-over drug war load will gain strength. It was stated that drug follow to India has increased recently. Consequently, there has to be heightened security alert and vigil in the region. Overall, it was found that there is no old or new Taliban. Taliban are who they are. Of course, they have now become more media savvy and would like to project a new image. Pakistan appears to helping Taliban in this image make-over.
Prof. Sharma queried the panelists on the role of corporate world in helping with current situation in Afghanistan. He specifically mentioned how Indian and US corporate entities helped in developmental work in Afghanistan. Dr. Nargis responded that executing projects in Afghanistan remains challenge and comes with big risks. Dr. Shanthie concurred with this view. Ambassador Prasad and Dr. Weinbaum said that vehicles may be needed to deliver aid to poor and suffering Afghanis.
Prof. Sharma summarized the proceedings by stating that the role of United Nations will become an important one. Only through United Nations can the international community come together to create some sort of framework for engagement, which may be necessary has every day hundreds of Afghanis may be dying due to poverty and disease and there appears to be help in sight. Also, United Nations may also help in providing ways for delivery of humanitarian aid but all of this must come after strict adherence to United Nations resolution 2593(2021). Under the Chairmanship of India resolution 2593(2021) was passed in United Nations Security Council. First, the resolution demands that Afghan territory cannot be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts. Second, it calls for humanitarian assistance to help suffering Afghanis. Third, it reaffirms importance of upholding human rights including those of women, children and minorities in Afghanistan. This UN resolution will probably form the path to recovery from the current situation in Afghanistan which can go either way.
Council for Strategic Affairs at IIM Rohtak continues to present global platform for the discussion on temporal and critical issues. Through this platform an attempt was made to make people understand the various problems and challenges being faced by the people currently living in and outside Afghanistan. Also, the consequence of Taliban take-over on terrorism, regional, and global security. Particularly, the international community need to be made to understand that in the inter-connected world today developments in Afghanistan have an impact across the globe. The discussion will be brought out in the form of white paper on development activities that were undertaken in Afghanistan and how they could be sustained.
IIM Rohtak has completed more than a decade in imparting excellence and management grit to the courtry’s young aspiring young managers. It is amongst the country’s top management institutes and an only IIM in Delhi NCR region. The institute is the first IIM to have a BBA+MBA degree program and BBA+LLB degree program.