tv Forum Explores U.S. Political and Economic Strategy in Afghanistan CSPAN September 12, 2017 6:15am-7:45am EDT
this is an important part of what is going on and there's allies and partners will be key if we are able to move ahead on this regional process to facilitate that and be supportive of it so coalition management as you might call it, partner management is an important line of action going forward. as rick said if you try to break it down into actual lines of action a lot of it is outside afghanistan but working in close coordination with what you are
doing, this is a big set of diplomatic tasks and you can look at all the politics and diplomatic maneuvering in pakistan to get a useful dialogue going. there are other tools in this process but the key is the dialogue bringing us closer together for an important objective. i do think as rick was saying there was a lot of definition that still needs to go on in where we want to be. the president's policy talks about the india pakistan rivalry and a shame this has to be seen in the context. there is a long-standing set of difficult issues. it would be great to reduce that rivalry but thinking through how you do that, integrate into what
we are doing in afghanistan and on the pakistan afghanistan border, big task. there is a lot to do here and it is going to demand a nuanced and well coordinated us effort. >> thank you. i have a follow-up question on regional actors. how do you see the role of china and russia going forward? that is my last question. then we open the last 40 minutes for q and a. >> i think regional actors, you have to include india as well. i will talk about india because i russia -- i think russia and china, potential negative
influence and china long the lines of investment impacts more suitable -- india is an important player. ambassador wells, secretary for south asia, may be acting as well on negotiations in the region. it wasn't india very recently yesterday for example. it is not just helping to forge security ties and strengthen diplomatic ties between afghanistan and india but the economic aspects. india has been a major player supporting development in afghanistan. that is not rated the freedom board throughout the province but also to promote commercial ties.
i know there is a commitment on the part of india to expand trade in the next three to four years, i know the us program is helping to do that as well, that is the main focus so that will be an important player. >> on the economic side from a commercial trade perspective pakistan is still the largest importer of afghan goods with 39%, india is catching up at 9%. china only 6.1%, where exports from afghanistan, commodity trade exports which are largely opium as well but there are others, the official numbers that don't include opium show
the 643% in pakistan, 28%, regionally their biggest trading partners are there next door neighbors, the chinese have attempted to strike, for lack of a better word, grand bargain on mineral extraction, gas, supplies, rail lines, trying to do a lot economically that would help the chinese commercial engine but not the afghan commercial engine since those deals were cut directly with regional governors and not the central government. right now 70% of the real afghan economy is informal at this time so a lot of trading partners and major players like china are extracting minerals and resources that are not going through any government revenue process but instead are focused on enhancing livelihoods of regional governors, power centers, ms. militia leaders
etc.. >> the regional dimension i would add a couple more countries to the list we have been talking about in addition to china and russia, india and pakistan are hugely important and iran is significant. if we look on the political side, what we have seen is an increase in the hedging strategies by almost all these regional players except maybe india, russia and iran building their relationships with the taliban despite a lack of ideological affinity especially on the part of iran. pakistan has never really abandoned the hedging strategy with regard to afghanistan. what has changed from a
political standpoint in the past 16 years is china has become more engaged and if there is one popular piece of news in this china and the united states largely share a common perception with regard to afghanistan and even to some extent with regard to pakistan, that is a concern about ungoverned spaces emerging in afghanistan and pakistan from which attacks on respective homelands can be made. in the case of china, east turkestan, which has had safe haven of sorts that border area. i think just to focus for a little bit for a moment on pakistan, this is a critical question that is central to us policy right now, what has not
perhaps received as much discussion as it needs to is the question of what leverage the united states has over pakistan. there is considerable emphasis that we have provided to afghanistan, pakistan over the past decade and a half most recent iteration was 7 billion and substantially more over the years in security assistance but i do think this pales in comparison to what china is putting in pakistan now. china pakistan economic corridor, a piece of the one built one road initiative, china is committed to putting $6,000,000,047,000,000,000 in 2
pakistan in directed investments and soft loans. from the pakistani perspective this greatly reduces the dependence on the united states, us economic assistance in particular, not necessarily us assistance. the other point that doesn't receive a lot of attention is, this is just a matter of looking at a map, afghanistan is a landlocked country in central asia. if we hope to sustain a garrison for some period of time in afghanistan we need to act by land and by air. by land you only have the option of going through pakistan unless he relations with them were to improve which is not in the cards and even by air the most direct route is certainly over pakistan. there is a temptation in
washington to overestimate our degree of leverage on pakistan and islamabad. because how we view our own substantial subsistence programs the reality is in pakistan, going to pursue its own national interests and probably an amicable 2 hours. we need to address this at a political level and the us taking the initiative to launch a political initiative that is a pathway towards settlement of the conflict is really the only way to address the question of regional hedging.
>> i associate myself with my colleagues's statement and recap statements going on now. we have to work very hard establishing this dialogue with pakistan, having partners pushing in the same direction like china, we can persuade them this is in our long-term interests will be very important to getting to a good outcome. if you think about other conflicts that have often been friends groups, have helped facilitate that agreement. they can be helpful. if you leave a space, some not so friendly friends may try to do things, making it more complicated to get to a peaceful solution, plus the point there is a lot of good economic things that can be done for afghanistan and pakistan, the economic
pipelines and transmission lines and other things working and part of the reason the trade with india, pakistan won't let anything cross its landmass, the indians will buy a lot more from afghanistan. that is why it is important to try to work on the india pakistan rivalry a. it is going to be hard to do that. all of this leads to the conclusion that we need an active regional policy with in mind how to incentivize a path to negotiating a solution using other actors that can be useful. none of them, pakistan is the greatest influence on the talent band, but together, there can be a policy difference if they are
organized to bring a positive impact about. the big question, one of the questions is how to get engaged with iran and what they will do to mess things up if they don't like what is going on. we need to think that through. i still remember the first donor conferences in the fall of 2001 and beginning of 2002, afghanistan, iran was there and they wanted to play a constructive role and for ideological reasons they were not friendly with caliban and were happy to see this change. there are still some geostrategic areas we might find common ground if we can talk to them and bring them into a process in some constructive
way. >> thank you very much. now we have about 25 minutes 54q and day -- q and a from the public, we will take a few questions at a time, we will answer those and go to the next round. there are microphones, let's take these two, the lady and gentlemen, can you identify yourself and your affiliation? >> i am samara daniels, i guess the mother of ethnic groups, interested in the future of pakistan, afghanistan and india. according to my father we were possibly converts to islam.
it is a very complex ethnic background. i would like ambassador wayne and ambassador olson to explain who you consider the taliban and this question has been so convoluted and responsible for the chaos that has ensued or the drawback to the strategy is a result of this confusion of the taliban and refugees. >> my name is abdul nafay sana. my question is your side, who
are the taliban? they have never renounced al qaeda. they are working together -- with other targets to organizations. so the assistance has been from some sides that a settlement should be found with the taliban but should we seek settlement with the taliban that is not a dispatch from this terrorist organization, killing the afghan people, when it comes to pakistan, we have always been open to dialogue with them. it happens because action does
not take place. the united states should draw the line with pakistan. it is a question we should be asking because getting away with that, they denounced terrorism, help against them and so on and at the end of the day nothing happens. the only way is to focus on the issue, political and diplomatic and you mentioned others -- my question for ambassador olson, i would like to hear an explanation of those. >> you said for the political settlement.
>> i will let ambassador olson go first. >> did you want to go? okay. who are the taliban? i think the taliban is actually a relatively coherent organization. we can identify who its primary leaders are and we can identify the fact that it has several governing bodies. those, one would note place and city names in pakistan and there are a group, taliban political
commission which has the responsibility for dealing with foreigners and for negotiating with foreigners does have an informal presence, to jump to my colleagues question about modalities, i would say the first step, the first step getting the peace process going would be to revive what was attempted in 2013 which is to open formally the taliban office for the purposes of discussing peace with the afghan government in a publicly recognized way. that is the first step. the second step is to bring in the regional players who are so
significant. there are a lot of challenges there because there is great difficulty which conceptually i don't know how to reconcile between bringing india and pakistan into afghanistan and that was a huge challenge so i won't underestimate that. in principle it seems to me that is what one should be pursuing as a way forward. i fully agree with you that the caliban has not renouncor terro. there were some hints has not renounced any ties with al qaeda by mullah omar, but there has not been a formal break, it was well-established that is an end
condition the taliban will have to break with al qaeda, stop violence and respect the afghan constitution. those are end conditions and that under the obama administration was policy of the united states but it is unrealistic to expect what are perceived by the taliban as concessions are unlikely to be made at the outset of a process and it will come at the end of the process and it will demand for the united states the withdrawal of foreign forces and it is equally unrealistic to expect the united states to concede that point early but seems to me there is a space for diplomatic negotiation and discussion. i think the only way we will
find out if a deal is possible is if we get into that negotiating space and talk about core issues. >> i think it is exactly right. there are different parts of the taliban. they have unifying political parties that come together, differences of opinion, differences between local taliban and who go out and fight and those living in pakistan. >> it is true and a lot of insurgencies around the world and it takes a long process to start engaging, defining what they want, what the government really wants in finding common ground. you need to engage and keep trying and there are a lot of failed efforts in doing that but you try to create the conditions
so the perception of a benefit of a political system is more positive and you can see this in colombia, how long it got to a political settlement. many many years of difficult fighting from both parties and difficult negotiations. even a good process got turned off for a while and turned back on again and a referendum by the people causing this to be revisited. if you look at all of this is a hard process. certainly from the us perspective the groups attacking specifically us persons, civilians or others are the least susceptible of those, that will be part of the discussion during negotiations, that will be part of the initial discussion and hopefully you
will get to a common solution on the part of the afghan government. >> this is going to be tough but if we don't try this path it is unlikely to be a solution where there is a sanctuary, hard to find. >> just one point on the coherence of the taliban, we have done a deal with the taliban. whatever one thinks of it, to release bowe bergdahl who was held by the least susceptible elements of the taliban. he was released, negotiations with political commission. it does suggest there is a degree of coherence in the organization. >> i will take two questions from the left and two questions
from the right. i already did. lady in blue and the gentleman here. >> thanks very much. i am with the us afghan women's council, thanks for this wide-ranging discussion focused on military aspects and development and other aid aspects. one topic that has been conspicuously absent from conversations around the august 21st policy is women's role in conflict resolution and security of afghanistan as half of the population is women, how can the new policy effectively incorporate the educational achievements that were talked about, economic advancements and leadership of women in afghanistan's future while avoiding backsliding in violence
against women or economic opportunities and participation in the ongoing peace process, thanks so much. >> take the economic experience. >> thank you very much. just a quick comment, ambassador wayne mentioned columbia -- colombia. i will be an optimist but one thing to think about, getting ahead of myself accompanying implementation of a peace agreement. even colombia today the action and limitation, you sign a deal and we are done, a quick comment but two questions for ambassador olson. one, moving beyond the modalities, i wonder, not to put you on the spot but speculate on
the broad outlines of what a deal could look like and in terms of leverage with afghanistan and pakistan i wonder if you could comment on the importance of trade between pakistan and the us? is that a source of leverage or not? think you? >> my wife is listening. >> let me say the constitution of afghanistan protects the rights of women and the administration takes it seriously. education for women, employment opportunities for women. unfortunately as they have been disadvantaged over years their own development is quite limited
in comparison with men. if you look at things like literacy rates, double what it is of men but usaid's largest program is built on women's empowerment and trying to build the quality and skills of women to become leaders in department, leaders in schools, leaders in the economy. >> a couple ideas on that. support to afghan women in the economy and institution, the government in afghanistan has been a critical part of us assistance for 11, 12 years. that money was put into our budget to fund usaid and other ministries, to direct budgets and so forth, that money has been there and is still there.
this administration has had two budgets they can influence and that money is still there. the budget that came out yesterday by the senate appropriations subcommittee has maintenance of the afghanistan budgets to a large degree and is likely the house conference with the senate will continue and there hasn't been any major announcements or even in information the administration is going to pull back from that. also, dino powell, one of the president's closest advisors is a strong supporter. at goldman sachs she ran one of the largest organization supporting women globally and afghanistan was a big focus and a lot of the activities she worked on, she's a big voice in maintaining this kind of support long-term. on the issue of vocational
training when the united states went and we saw a focus on healthcare implementation not for men but women, those women whether they are midwives or doctors or others are the capacity of the health ministry and the ones who implement of the vaccination programs all over afghanistan that have taken their death rates down, it is women who have done that. on the ict sector i want to remind everyone cell phone penetration in afghanistan over 92%. a large portion of women have cell phones. what that means operationally on the ground, a rural village, can get the call from the midwife coming into do vaccinations and health checkups and have her children fair to get on a horse or a ride in a bus and go to get health care. that has changed. ict has helped that, not just that they have cell phones but opening a door for women in afghanistan to who have access to other services and i hope we
i think the gains of the past 16 years have to be preserved. that heads us into what the outlines of the formula and what is the deal that could be worked. look, this is speculative and i don't think it's possible to say until the negotiations actually begin but it seems to me that i would break the sets of issues down into three buckets. you have the purely internal afghan issues and that is the issues that have driven the war over the last 30 years and have the regional dimension, the interference of regional powers, and then you have the question -- at least how the taliban would refine to find it by our presence through nato over the past 16 years. if i were working on this what i would be looking to do is to get some assurances and more than
assurances but actual evidence of breaking up links between the television and al qaeda and other terrorist groups. in return for those breakages begin to think about some kind of phase withdrawal of foreign forces. obviously, the devil is in the details on this and you have to make sure that there is something enforceable and a reversible if the assurances don't turn into a reality. the external element -- again, it's simpler to stay in principle to negotiate but the idea is that afghan territory cannot be a threat to anyone in the region. it cannot be used against anyone else and i talked about the safe
havens on the pakistani side of the border but of course pakistan the representative was here he would say that there are safe havens on the afghan side of the border, the ttp. those issues need to be addressed. finally, there are the internal set of issues and i think these have to be addressed, obviously -- we talk about a afghan led afghan owned peace process this is the core issue that has to be afghan owned and led in which foreigners i don't think we'll have very much to say except perhaps to set broad boundaries on what they can find acceptable and sign up to or not sign up to. i think there will have to be some discussion amongst, between the television and the afghan government and whether it has to
be amended or perhaps how the television can come into the political process in a peaceful way. i don't think we can prejudge that except to say that afghans do have some very ready-made institutions for addressing these questions. afghan politics, at some level, is all about reconciliation and i would see this developing through a. [inaudible] it's not hard to imagine in principle how this could be brought about. the final thing that i would say on this is that we shouldn't underestimate the emergence of the islamic state and this new factor that changes the endemic somewhat.
it is not, and i'm speaking in a speculative way, not out of the realm of the possible that that has changed the televisions cancellation on foreign forces and that is something to be discussed. i don't think it's out of the round of the taliban might accept some gradual phase withdrawal over a long period if that would help to assure afghan stability and prevent a conflict and contain conflict. oh yeah, well, look, it is true that pakistan the us has been the largest trading partner over the years of pakistan. i don't know if that is still true i haven't looked at the numbers recently but i suspect in this regard that china is moving ahead. i'm not sure -- i don't think it offers much leverage in a
negative sense and i don't think there is anything that we would want to do to reduce our exports to pakistan and we don't report much pakistan. in a positive sense, of course, there is a huge potential incentive for pakistan in that it's a textile producing country and if it were able to import it textiles into the united states under more favorable terms that would be a big boon to the pakistani economy. frankly, my sense is first, no one is thinking about carrots right now. and second, trade deals in and of themselves, while i leave it to the collective sense of the audience whether this administration will pursue trade deals and especially free-trade deals. potentially, you know, it is interesting but i don't see it as something that has a real
immediate opportunity. >> just to be quick. two things. one, i do think the frontier between afghanistan and pakistan have enhanced security there and can be a confidence and trust building process and should be, if able to move this forward because there are people operating on both sides of the border against the country. secondly, i do think, of course, the women's issue is very important and it's important that people keep making sure that that is brought up in considered as things go forward. but i think there will be a lot of voices from the united states supporting that in that we have all dedicated a lot of time and effort to helping the role of women in afghanistan expand. >> thank you. one final question from the right. >> i just have a comments. my name is. [inaudible] and i've been working in afghanistan for the last 14 years. for those of you who have been
in afghanistan you understand what i mean when i say outside the wire. i have witnessed our successes and failures in afghanistan and i think there are three major successes that we have accomplished over the years. first, the physical structure in afghanistan but no one has that in that area. second is the law and constitution. it is well advanced and nobody has set in that area in that region. third, a free press. that i would say no one has in that area. our failures economy, okay. specifically employment. or unemployment. to date if you want to be employed in afghanistan you have only one industry to go to and it's called the war industry. either you get hired by television or by the afghan army.
either way you are dead six month later. tell a man pays $400 or $500 and afghan army pays 200 or 250. that is a sad story in afghanistan. then the even greater problem is that everything in afghanistan is being dissolved by politics and i hear that you guys. here is the issue with afghanistan. you have -- let's suppose someone needs an appendectomy. they need a surgeon. but the very first thing that happens is they will go to the pharmacy in afghanistan, the american indus embassy, italian embassy and order us to get a surgery surgeon to get the surgery. nobody has that the financial problems in afghanistan. finally, i don't want to take much of your time but that is we
have to go back for those of us who been around for a bit longer that what candidate bill clinton said in 1989 was that its economy and that's the whole issue in afghanistan. that's it. >> okay. are there any final comments? >> i would agree with your premise and i don't want to be just the economy. i think when you say the economy that he thanks the government economy but when he said it to me and you say to me i wanted to be a private-sector market led economy in afghanistan. that's the only way to build sustainable growth. they can't continue at 2% growth rate in order to absorb the workload the workers coming and they need to be growing at six-8% every year and they won't have that without the private sector being the economic engine of afghanistan. everyone should focus on the
private-sector solution and i would even posit that if you want to progress with the television, you need to talk about economic diplomacy and jobs and how they can get integrated into a formal economy. that will not happen unless is a private-sector there to hire people and train farmers not to grow poppy. >> i will just end and say that certainly the objective of the government and donors is the right objective. private-sector led growth and looking, at least in this interim period of the next three years, targeting high-value exports into the region. the real question is the strategy right and are the implementing mechanisms the right ones to achieve that and that is obviously something that needs to be analyzed and discussed. >> yeah, i would say, at the end of the day there is no question, that economic issues are ultimately determined the success of afghanistan but i
think the question of sequencing and the experience i've had in much of the developing world on a 35 year career that if you have a political compact and have economic development it works better than if you try to foster economic development out a political compact. >> i would add on that final process that we do have a framework of process for reviewing what progress is being made or not made in the economic area. the problem is making it work and have peace and produce results. we haven't been so good in doing that. if we can do that over the next year or two in addition to working these other areas, i think, we can hopefully see some good progress.
>> thank you for our panelists and the rich discussion we had today and for all of you being here in your questions. this concludes the session. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. the 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's gullible television companies.
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