Afghanistan’s foreign policy track was marred by a series of political changes at home, in the region and in the world in the past 100 years.
A key question that raises by many is what has been the state of Afghanistan’s foreign policy with neighboring countries from the king Amanullah’s era to President Ashraf Ghani’s government?
Historians write that Amanullah Khan after travelling to Iran, Egypt, the then Soviet Union and a number of European countries took the first steps in contemporary Afghan foreign policy.
But it was not too long that Afghanistan became embroiled in internal tensions and disputes over the Durand Line with Pakistan and the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
“Our foreign policy during peaceful era was balanced and good. It was based on peaceful life. The war period is not counted among this,” President Ghani’s special envoy Mohammad Umer Daudzai said.
Nadir Shah, who took power after the 9-month government of Habibullah Kalakani in 1929, adopted the Amani era foreign policy and established close ties with the Britain and the former Soviet Union.
Writers say that king Zahir during his 40 years of reign managed to keep the policy of neutrality in global affairs. But at the same time, there are also historic narrations that some powers weren’t considering him impartial from 1959 to 1969.
During his last decade of reign, Zahir Shah also tried to expand Afghanistan’s relations with the Russians, Iran and Pakistan.
The king made many trips to a number of countries, including the United States, to draw their attention to Afghanistan, but these trips accompanied Afghanistan between the two world powers: the US and the former Soviet Union.
“Afghanistan foreign policy has been a tough task in the past 100 years. We had to keep the policy of balance, then we had NATO, US, China and Iran there,” senior presidential adviser Waheed Omer said.
In 1973, ex-Afghan president Mohammad Daud, the cousin of former king of Afghanistan Mohammad Zahir, took over the political power after toppling him from the thrown in a bloodless coup.
However, Mohammad Daud was toppled after five years in power in a bloody coup in 7th of Sawr of 1357 (1978), which was plotted by members of People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA).
During his five years’ term, Mohammad Daud sealed a series of security and trade contracts and agreements with various countries, including Germany, Italy and the US and then Afghanistan for the first time, took part in a regional coalition comprising countries like Iran, Turkey and Iraq.
During Mohammad Daud’s government, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan continued to be sour and even an attack occurred against Pakistani embassy in Kabul. In retaliation, Pakistan closed Afghan consulates in Peshawar and Quetta.
“The Afghan passport had a high value and the citizens were able to travel to countries without a visa,” said Shukria Barakzai, former Afghan ambassador to Norway.
In 1978, the government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took shape with the support of the former Soviet Union. During this period, Afghanistan’s foreign policy was mainly focused on the east and the country followed the Soviet Union and left-wing foreign policy dominated Afghanistan’s foreign policy sphere.
Afghanistan did not have a defined foreign policy during five years of the mujahideen’s government, and it was influenced by war and violence and only few countries in the region, among them India, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Central Asian nations, had diplomatic ties with Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s relations with the world were reshaped after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
But, during former president Hamdi Karzai’s government, Afghanistan’s relations with US as one of its strategic partners remained tense at some stage over the signing of the bilateral security agreement known as BSA.
With the arrival of Ashraf Ghani in the country’s politics as president, ties between the two allies improved, particularly after the two parties signed the BSA.
But Kabul-Washington relations once again saw some problems following the signing of the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha in February 2020.
According to some sources, Kabul’s relations with Washington have once again deteriorated with efforts to propose the establishment of an interim government as part of a potential peace deal with the Taliban to end decades of conflicts in the country through a political settlement.