Kashmir is Key to Peace in Afghanistan

Kashmir is Key to Peace in Afghanistan

By Abdul Latif Bhat

Brussels: Norwegian Parliament has once again raised the issue of Kashmir and this time with the reference of holding a debate on the situation of Afghanistan and Norway’s civil and military engagement.

Dagfinn Hoybraten , the Vice President of the Norwegian Parliament has once again raised the issue of Kashmir in the house during the debate on Norwegian civil and military engagement and the issue of Afghanistan.

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Dagfinn Hoybraten

Mr Dagfinn is the Norwegian politician and the former leader of the Christian Democratic Party. He is also the member of the Board of the GAVI Alliance and member of the Board of Kashmir Committee in Norwegian Parliament.

He said that the conflict in Kashmir is likely the tragic inspiration for international terrorism. While giving the reference of the recently published book \”The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began\”) , he said that this is also one of the points about circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and murder of Norwegian Hans Christian Ostro and other foreign tourists in 1995.

While linking the Kashmir issue with Afghanistan situation he said that with the progress of the work for peace in Kashmir, Pakistan will find it easier to refocus its defense policy thinking and contribute more constructively to the border with Afghanistan. Mr Dagfinn said that Pakistan’s efforts to combat extremism within its borders will more easily succeed.

Mr Dagfinn said that the international community must contribute to conflict resolution in the region neighbouring Afghanistan. He said “ If we are successful with it, creating new opportunities for ensuring that Afghanistan can fight their way out of war and terror, scourge of poverty and need, and out of repression and oppression. That has been the fate of the older generation of Afghans. Their children deserve a different and better future.”

The debate continued for 2 and half hours in which Parliamentarians of various political parties that include Arbeiderpartiet (Labour), Fremskrittspartiet (the Progress Party), Hoyre (the Conservatives) , Sosialistisk Venstreparti (the Socialist Left Party) , Senterpartiet (the Central Party), , Kristelig Folkeparti (the Christian Democratic Party) and Venstreparti (Left Party), addressed and put forth their valuable suggestions on the issue of Afghanistan.

During the debate Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that they supported the military intervention in Afghanistan to eradicate the roots of international terrorism. Now Norway is of the opinion that military intervention was not sufficient to deal the situation in Afghanistan. He said that now it is the time to build Afghanistan, a country that could care for themselves. He said that to wind up the assistance will be bad for Afghanistan.

Sources have confirmed that when the ISAF mission comes to an end in 2014, Norway will increase its funding for the security sector in Afghanistan, bringing its total funding to NOK 150 million a year (around NOK 60 million for the army and NOK 90 million for the police).

Foreign Minister of Norway Mr Jonas Gahr Store while replying to the questions of the Parliamentarians said that Norwegian funded NGOs are an important contributor. They can show good and concrete results in areas like health, education, water supply, agriculture and livestock, and they help to build up civil society through cooperation with local partners – a very important contribution to the Afghan democratization.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store also spoke on the occasion. He said, “It is emphasized here by the Prime Minister and others that we went into Afghanistan in 2001 to prevent the country should again be used as a base for terror. This goal has largely been achieved. The key going forward will be to ensure the sustainability of the results we, and especially Afghans, have been achieved. The attacks on 11 September 2001 showed that Afghanistan’s security even in a sense, is our security.”

Mr Store further said, “Pakistan and Iran have great impact on what has happened in Afghanistan through all these years – we must not forget it. Some of this is also applied from the outside. But, Pakistan also has a very complex social structure and organization. Who really has the dominant words there? They have choices, but it is democracy, etc.?”

On the issue of linking Kashmir issue with the Afghanistan situation Mr Store clarified said that what the international community must do is create what is called so nice incentives in this region, where countries individually and collectively, will have more to gain by making it more commercial, in that it is a good transit of goods, and by developing water resources together. He said that the representative (of the Christian Democratic Party) Hoybraten mentioned Kashmir, the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where developing water resources, roads etc. plays an important role.

He said that, “For Pakistan, it must be that they interpret Afghanistan’s hinterlands, not as a security threat, but as something that is stable, that they do not think that a weak Afghanistan is an advantage for Pakistan. It is when these things in a way are leveled out, that countries may have common interests in a more stable future together.”

Meanwhile Kashmir-Scandinavian Council (KSC) Executive Director Sardar Ali Shahnawaz Khan has urged that Norway should continue to encourage the powerful capitals to realize that the way to lasting peace in Afghanistan and South Asia goes through the highly militarized zone in the region, i.e Kashmir – the Paradise on Earth.

The United States and its 27 NATO allies eye exit troop withdrawal from Afghanistan over the next two years.

Despite US and NATO leaders appeal to allies to avoid a \”rush to the exits\” and to back an alliance plan for a gradual drawdown culminating at the end of 2014.

France is set to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year earlier than Paris initially planned, and two years before scheduled NATO pull-out .

Polls show most French, and many other Europeans, want their countries out of Afghanistan, as do most Americans. Only this week the panel of the anti-war US lawmakers have reiterated that the US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan must happen earlier than the intended 2024 deadline set by America with signing a deal with Hamid Karzai. I suggest to follow the headline “Afghanistan: withdrawal by 2014, military aid ends by 2024” otherwise you will be confused with “ Afghanistan withdrawal by 2014 or 2024” which is much discussed news on the issue.

Author is Belgium based cyber media expert and Director of Kashmir International Research Centre. Email: kashmirwatch@gmail.com

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