Afghanistan's neighbours must help define future: Kissinger
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said Friday that Afghanistan's neighbours would have to step up to help define the future of the country, rather than depend on unilateral US efforts.
After all, countries in the region including China, India, Pakistan and even Iran could be affected if Afghanistan were to end up with a fundamentalist regime, he told a conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
"A unilateral American role cannot be a long-term solution. A long-term solution must involve a combination, a consortium of countries in defining, protecting and guaranteeing a definition of a statehood for Afghanistan," said the 87-year-old elder statesman.
"While the United States is so engaged, there may be many countries that believe that they can wait. I would argue that starting this effort soon is the best way and maybe the only way to bring this to a conclusion," he added.
Kissinger pointed out that there are "many countries in the world that have a more immediate security interest in the future of Afghanistan than the United States.
"Not an abstract interest ... but a national security interest," he said.
The "presence of a terrorist drug-producing state in that geographic location will affect every country."
It could, for instance, undermine the political order in Pakistan, he said.
India too would be affected by an Islamic Shiite regime and "China with its problems in Xinjiang cannot be indifferent.
"Even Iran as a Shiite country, if it can ever move to think of itself as a nation rather than a cause, can have no interest in a fundamentalist regime," he said.
"All these countries have more vital interest in Afghanistan than does the United States," noted Kissinger, who was secretary of state during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Nearly nine years after a US-led invasion launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks, US President Barack Obama has ramped up the war against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, tripling US forces there to about 100,000.
About 100 people demonstrated in the Swiss city of Geneva against Kissinger over his alleged role in the 1973 military coup in Chile.
© 2010 AFP