1. Afghanistan: The unique lebensraum
Sir Halford John Mackinder in his famous –Heartland theory changed the concept of world geopolitics by saying- “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland, Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island
Who rules the World-Island commands the world.”
Afghanistan geographically lies in the periphery of Central Asia, yet this does not reduce its geostrategic importance in the geopolitical phenomena of this region. Not only geographical contiguity, common racial, ethnic, cultural and religious threads of connection make Afghanistan interlinked with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and other countries of Central Asia. Huge cross-border migration, intruding cross-border conflicts culminating from ethnic, national and terrorist issues and involvement of superpowers in Afghanistan has always put Central Asian countries in a situation where they cannot ignore Afghanistan and cannot think to realize their dreams of regional stability and peace without collaborating with Kabul. Similarly, for other countries, including Pakistan, India, and neighboring regional powers, Afghanistan has remained as cause of disagreement. The Great Game of superpowers in Asia that had dynamics much larger than its regional platform was played on the grounds of Afghanistan. Therefore, to study Central Asian geopolitics, Afghanistan needs to be explored in every historical and geopolitical aspect. The avenue for interaction between different factors will have new dimensions once US and NATO forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan. Central Asian countries Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have common borders with Afghanistan of around 2,000 kilometers. Topography on these frontiers –for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is mainly desert and Tajik-Afghan border is mountainous and badly demarcated.
The physiography of Afghanistan has created a unique Lebensraum or 'living space.' Afghanistan has a rugged physical topography and this gave an impetus to growth of isolated tribes and groups. There were many microenvironments created and many kinship group evolved in such isolated microenvironments. The rugged terrain and extremely difficult weather conditions as well as frequent foreign inference have made the people of Afghanistan rough and tough to many odds however, at the same time; they have also emerged so adaptive and so flexible in following strategies of survival, religious beliefs, food productions techniques, irrigation system and so on.
2. Relation between central Asia and Afghanistan
Central Asian states are going through stages of transition. Facing diverse issues of political instability, economic crisis and ethnic conflicts, nearness to Afghanistan add more complexities in the regional identity of Central Asia. Problems of securing human rights, ecological balance, democracy and religious harmony are a few challenges that stay in the way of this region’s stability. Nonetheless, crimes like drug trafficking human...