- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Stability in Afghanistan

The United States cannot walk away from Afghanistan after it crushes Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and the Taliban regime that protected it, according to the global troubleshooters of the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Like it or not, Washington will likely have to do a little nation-building.

"America finds it difficult to leave" an area once it is involved in settling a dispute, Robert Templer, the ICG's Asia program director, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday.

"Not because of colonial interests or anything like that, but because the United States is a stabilizing influence," he said.

Even countries that have asked the United States to leave regret their decisions, he said, citing the Philippines as an example.

"You will get something worse [than the Taliban] if Afghanistan remains in a decayed state," Mr. Templer said. "If that country remains unstable, the surrounding countries will be unstable."

The possible catastrophes shock even the hardened ICG analysts who make it their business to study crises and promote their solutions to the conflicts.

Mr. Templer foresees Islamic militants running amok in Central and South Asia, especially threatening Pakistan. "Then you would have a nuclear-armed Islamic fundamentalist state," he said.

A confrontation with India, the other nuclear power in South Asia, would be one scenario. Iran might also attempt to fill a vacuum left by regional instability. Who knows what Iraq might do?

"If Afghanistan is a failed state, it will be vulnerable to the next terrorist movement," said Mark L. Schneider, ICG's senior vice president.

Mr. Templer also had little hope that the Afghan leaders meeting in Germany will be able to craft a government without outside help.

"Twenty years of conflict will not be wrapped up in a few days of discussions," he said.

In a new report, the ICG said the top priority for reconstructing Afghanistan is for nations promising aid to "adopt a regional approach, tackling development, drugs and security problems." Afghanistan is one of the world's largest growers of poppies, which produces heroin.

As long as no central government exists, development funds should be targeted locally, "from regional commanders to village shuras [councils]," the report added.

Mr. Templer, Mr. Schneider and Harold Crouch, ICG's Indonesia project director, have been meeting with White House and State Department officials, members of Congress and think-tank associates.

Pakistani detainees

Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi last week continued her efforts to get the names of Pakistanis detained by U.S. authorities after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

She met Friday with Christina Rocca, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs.

The Pakistani Embassy said 208 Pakistanis are being held on immigration charges. However, the embassy does not have their names, the locations where they are being held or the specific charges.

"We have been assured by the U.S. authorities that the detainees would be treated in accordance with U.S. law and that the government would fulfill its obligations under the Vienna Convention," the embassy said yesterday.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations requires any governments that detain foreign citizens to inform them they have the right to contact their embassies or consulates.

Miss Lodhi also said the embassy will help deport Pakistani detainees who are not challenging their cases.

Future of world trade

The World Trade Organization faces "two formidable challenges" from outside and inside the global trading body, according to a new book from the American Enterprise Institute.

Claude E. Barfield, a resident scholar, argues that the WTO "must confront escalating attacks" from anti-globalist protesters who have disrupted several WTO meetings.

Second, the organization must deal with a cumbersome bureaucratic rules and a "highly efficient" process for settling disputes.

The book, "Free Trade, Sovereignty, Democracy: The Future of the World Trade Organization," is available from the AEI at 800/937-5557.

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