Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, September 21st, 2020

Afghanistan’s Foreign Policy Challenges

Afghanistan's foreign policy and diplomatic machinery shoulder the critical responsibility of defining and shaping the country's short-term and long-term relations with the outside world.

This has assumed greater significance for our country given the extensive involvement of the international community in Afghanistan in military, political, economic and social spheres. Moreover, the country continues to remain heavily dependent on western countries and international organizations for a variety of reasons from security provision to paying for the government's daily expenses. However, this dependence cannot be an excuse and a reason for having a foreign policy and diplomatic machinery that lacks the ability to initiate and independently pursue its own goals.

Afghanistan's foreign policy and the bureaucratic machinery that is in charge of crafting and executing its foreign policies have rather been inflexible, passive and inconsistent in recent years. This means that the country's foreign policy makers and our diplomatic machinery have most of the times been only reacting to events and foreign policy compulsions rather than initiating and taking the lead in affecting the events before the events affect Afghanistan. For example, the countries in the region have serious concerns about the presence of foreign military forces inside Afghanistan. Moreover, they see it as a grave threat to themselves; the presence of a government in Afghanistan that is heavily dependent on the west and, in their view, will act as the west's regional agent and strategic protégé. Such fears and apprehensions have naturally led to a wall of distrust towards Afghanistan being erected by them.

Much of the country's ills over the past one decade can be, in one way or another, traced to this lack of mutual trust. Needless to say that it has been the responsibility of the country's foreign policy makers and our diplomatic apparatus to have duly addressed these genuine concerns of our neighbors over the past years. What we see instead is that they have largely failed to achieve this imperative over the past many years. Time and again, it has been the inability, inconsistency and a passive approach to foreign relations that have crippled Afghanistan's foreign diplomacy machinery. In order to quell the Taliban insurgency and make Afghanistan a viable state in the region, the role played by the country's foreign policy and diplomatic apparatus is as important as the international coalition's relentless battle against the Taliban and their allies. These two are more or less the two sides of the same coin.

Afghans hope that the government of Afghanistan can make up for the past shortcomings and re-energize its foreign policy apparatus so that Afghanistan's foreign policy can be realistic, balanced and more important, able to make use of available opportunities in a pro-active manner.