A warning to Afghanistan

Published: October 7, 2011

The region would have benefited as a whole had the three members of Saarc come together and made the India-Afghanistan agreement a tripartite accord.

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani warned Afghanistan on October 6 that it should stop all cross-border attacks from its territory into Pakistan and added that “the army had made all arrangements to counter any terrorist attack from across the Afghan border”. The warning is significant as it was delivered on the occasion a joint military exercise with Saudi land forces near Jhelum. Although the exercise was a continuation of old practice, it will be taken as a warning to Pakistan’s two antagonists: Afghanistan and India who have just signed a strategic agreement.

The Foreign Office in Islamabad underlined the possibility that Pakistan may view certain aspects of this agreement with concern. Its spokesperson said the same day that the two countries should “avoid taking steps that may affect regional stability”. Read together with General Kayani’s assertion that Saudi Arabia has always contributed to “regional stability”, it seems that India and Pakistan have already started communicating in a hostile manner. Some analysts in Pakistan have made dire predictions about what they say is the “hidden agenda” behind the India-Afghanistan deal, claiming that it is backed by the US which is now taking its anger out on Pakistan.

Unfortunately, exchanges between Afghanistan and Pakistan have taken on a bitter edge — despite a recent remark by President Hamid Karzai that the latter was Afghanistan’s “twin brother” — after the recent assassination of High Peace Committee president Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul. As the Foreign Office took care to concede, the making of an agreement between two members of the Saarc group of states was perfectly legitimate, but Pakistan would study the content of the agreement carefully to see if it was inimical to its interests. As things stand, Pakistan itself is in the process of finalising a far more important trade agreement with India. The region would have benefited as a whole had the three members of Saarc come together and made the India-Afghanistan agreement a tripartite accord with Pakistan giving India a transit route and India allowing investments in Pakistan.

With minds inflamed by purely military thinking, Pakistanis tend to be convinced that India has been finally given the go-ahead by America to establish itself firmly in Afghanistan. And if it trained Afghan military personnel in Afghanistan, that might result in the posting of Indian troops there; and this will challenge Pakistan military directly under the doctrine of ‘strategic depth’. If this kind of thinking is advanced further, Pakistan will obliged to bite off far more than it can chew in the coming months. In India, however, there are words of caution in the post-accord period, advising New Delhi against military escalation against Pakistan in Afghanistan. But the truth is that if Pakistan does nothing — which means abstaining from ruining its economy further — the Indians will soon realise the limits of their penetration in Afghanistan. The Foreign Office must develop a less hostile posture and protect the advance it has made in the direction of increased trade with India. It should not allow the talks to wither on the bough just because the Indians will now train Afghan military personnel. It is not only India and Afghanistan as Saarc members who have moved closer, India has closed ranks with Iran as well despite American persuasion to the contrary.

If the current military thinking persists, India and Pakistan can step up the negative activities that South Asia and the neighbouring regions simply can’t afford. India has an air base and a military hospital in Farkhor in Tajikistan which it can refurbish and use; and Pakistan can encourage the Pashtun warriors of Afghanistan to make India suffer simply because its accord with Kabul will tend to leave the Pashtuns out and benefit a predominantly non-Pashtun officer cadre of the Afghan Army. Making Saudi Arabia an actor in South Asia is not advisable because of the internal Pakistani trend of sectarian violence by non-state actors funded by the Arabs against Iran. The region of South Asia can be stable if its states develop economic synergies instead of military confrontation. If this happens, extra-regional actors will become irrelevant.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.

Reader Comments (24)

  • Mir Agha
    Oct 8, 2011 - 12:28AM

    yeah, India is going to use an airbase by flying through Pak and China. Would make sense only to a leftist.

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  • Arindom
    Oct 8, 2011 - 12:58AM

    Pakistan should propose a tri-lateral trade and transit deal with India and Afghanistan

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  • Noor Afghan
    Oct 8, 2011 - 2:16AM

    Let Afghanistan prosper, Pakistan has milked the cow enough through it double game policies. If Pakistanis were serious, they should have joined this agreement with India and Afghanistan for more lasting peace and economic stability in the region.

    Pakistan is following the policy of kill and let kill. It is killing its own people through it high oil, food prices, no electricity, failing railway, failing airline, but prospering army enterprise through Askari bank chain, wedding halls, and other businesses in addition to taking almost 100% of people budget away.

    Live and let live…don’t make all the world think of the song, who let the dog out.

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  • Devils Advice
    Oct 8, 2011 - 2:39AM

    WOW WOW WOW

    I have just write comment on another article on same news paper.

    World is totaly PARALYZED to understand TOTAL OBSESSION of pakistani on matter of WAR -Fighting -Arms -Nuclear etc and STRATEGIC DEPTH OR DEATH.

    Only country in the world where media is full of WAR and Security Discussion.

    I think Pakistan as a whole is suffering from severe mental psychological or behavioral disorder. DO SOMETHIG ABOUT THIS ,you are going to create MONSTER out of this CRAZY discussion on media.

    People do not have electricity at home ,Factory are closing left and right ,people don’t have job ,Social structure is collapsing ,and here you are talking about WAR.

    May be you are right ,When you don’t have to loose anything ,Why not fight and DIE.

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  • Wellwisher
    Oct 8, 2011 - 3:18AM

    Well written Trade and commerce between the neighbours of Afghanistan will be the right recipe for regional peace Hope Pakistaan realizes thisRecommend

  • Ashmit
    Oct 8, 2011 - 4:31AM

    Saudi Arabia is a non-actor in South Asia. The Kargil War where the Saudis came down hard on Pakistan and supported Indian position for Pakistan to withdraw back to the LoC shows that Saudis will not go against Indian interests.

    Lets not forget that Indo-Saudi trade is $25 Billion+ and Indo-Saudi defence ties are much wider in context as well from the piracy in the Gulf of aden to the COIN in Yemen and co-ordinating positions on Iran, Somalia and Palestine. India can provide much more clout to the Saudis than Pakistan ever can.

    In this situation Pakistan can only ask, but not provide to the Saudis anything in return.

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  • Ahmad Barakzai
    Oct 8, 2011 - 4:41AM

    You Pakistanis had a chance to help us rebuild our country not only after the Soviet defeat but also after defeat of the Taliban in 2001 but you instead decided to support the wretched Taliban kill and maim my countrymen.Now when someone genuinely wants to help us you are crying loud and hoarse.You accuse us of being refugees in your country when in reality the pakhtun lands on other side of Durand have historically belonged to Afghans and we shall reclaim them one day Inshallah.Although it is upto Allah(s.w.t) to decide but i pray that your nation pays a dear price for being as much a party if if not more in destroying my beautiful country as much were the soviets,americans and taliban.

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  • Simon
    Oct 8, 2011 - 6:26AM

    Dear Sir,

    Why do you say South Asia will suffer when you actually mean it is Afghanistan-Pakistan, like last time in 90′s when due to north-south civil happened, ofcourse Pakistan is far more entangled there due its geographical proximity. India on the other hand had prosperous growth in nineties, ofcourse if AfPak region develops it will be benefit to all but the maximum one is to AfPak andnot South Asia. And for a change India is reaching out to its neighbours and has achieved substantial progress with Bangladesh and Srilanka, and even Myanmar has seem to be turning a page and wont be surprised if there is more integration of it with India Bangladesh.

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  • ashok sai
    Oct 8, 2011 - 9:50AM

    With minds inflamed by purely military thinking

    Golden words, need to repeat 1000 times. Recent editorials in ET worth printing and issued to every Pakistani citizens. Good job ET.

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  • Jake
    Oct 8, 2011 - 12:28PM

    @Ahmad Barakzai:
    Why dont you try reclaiming parts of kabul first, let alone the entire pakhtun region!

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  • R S JOHAR
    Oct 8, 2011 - 1:03PM

    @Noor Afghan:
    I agree with your comments. India wants peace and prosperity in Afghanistan since this country has suffered far many decades now. The present agreement is the the first step towards this goal and I am sure many Pushtoons except Taleban and their symphathisers would welcome this agreement. Three years period is quite adequate to train and equip the Afghan army, who I am sure would be assisted by limited Indian army contigent by 2014 since India is averse to Taleban taking control of Kabul.

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  • Feroz
    Oct 8, 2011 - 1:45PM

    On one hand Pakistan says it wants to see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, simultaneously it is hostile to attempts by other countries wanting to help the neighbor. It does not make an iota of sense. Recommend

  • Andrea
    Oct 8, 2011 - 5:36PM

    @Ahmad Barakzai: One day when Pakistanis smarten up , we would should make a big wall to seal the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan so that your people cannot come to Pakistan to practice the problems you have given us like smuggling, prostitution drugs and terrorism. It has been proven from independence that Afg staging ground for Indian crime and you dare speak against Pakistan? Perhaps you should help millions of your people move back to Afghanistan from Pakistan. Please don’t send them back to us when the West leaves you in the next 2 years. This time we won’t be so easily duped by you people with our open hearts. Pakistan suffered the most to free you from Soviet rule when most Afghanis with connections went abroad to cry for asylum. By the way when you take all of the refugees back to Afghanistan, make sure to give all of Northern Afghanistan to the Tajiks, Uzebks and Hazaras since you feel that the border is misdrawn. Recommend

  • ProudAfghan
    Oct 8, 2011 - 9:01PM

    @Ahmad Barakzai: One day when Pakistanis smarten up , we would should make a big wall to seal the border between Afghanistan

    I think the whole world will appreciate if the pakistanis build a tall wall around their country and kept everybody inside pakistan. I think the world will be ready to finance the entire project. World can call it “the great wall of peace”.

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  • Thomas
    Oct 9, 2011 - 8:13AM

    Yes, another warning from the muslim warriors. Pakistan has already warned, U.S. India, Israel, Nato and everyone’s mother-in-law. They are so condecending and everyone is trembling in their boots!!!.

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  • maxwell
    Oct 9, 2011 - 10:01AM

    @ Andrea. Please make such wall with borders to India too….Indians would fund much of it, without eating grass :)

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  • Shafiq Nasery
    Oct 9, 2011 - 11:17AM

    @Andrea:
    well let us worry about that Mr. Andrea and you prepare to give up alot of your Balochistan and Pashtoonistan because that Afghan territory not some punjabis farmland and not to forget that Afghans will take their revenge if its in a year or in 100 years we are good at being enemies and thats what we have been doing so wait and watch and dont cry and run to china for asylum.

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  • Oct 9, 2011 - 11:56AM

    Friendship with Afghanistan would not long last. The Afghan nation invaded India in the past. We feel that the Afghans are trying to woo the Indians only for their political and monetary gains. They could not help Indians at difficult times.

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  • Ahmad
    Oct 9, 2011 - 4:15PM

    @Ahmad Barakzai: lol, you are expecting us to help your country, when Pakistanis were the one who suffered the most because of your country. There is not border, so all the smugglers and terrorists are crosssing over everyday. After Soviet invasion, it was Pakistan who supported its Afghan brothers and sisters by giving them asylum, which by the way is still be provided. Its been more than 20 years!! The world acknowledges that Pakistan is supporting some biggest of all refugee camps in the world for decades, so should you! And they are not based in pakhtun areas. They are all over Islamabad too. You should be thanking us Pakistanis for the hospitality.

    You are using our products, our food and services and there is no acknowledgement of that. Most of our agricultural goods are being smuggled across the border, because of which we have to suffer the consequences in the name of high food prices! and then there is this militancy issue as well!

    We have always supported our Afghan brothers and sisters, but there are thankless people like you who are inclined towards India and helping them in creating problems in Baluchistan and KPK. Shame on you! You destroyed your “Beautiful” country yourself, and now destroying ours.

    Btw, I know many Afghans living in Pakistani who dont want to go back. They have illegal permits to live in our country. We are feeding them, providing them shelter, for two decades!!! not India!! Keep that in mind before posting such comments.

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  • Nasir
    Oct 9, 2011 - 4:40PM

    @R S JOHAR:
    “Three years period is quite adequate to train and equip the Afghan army, who I am sure would be assisted by limited Indian army contigent by 2014″

    I am really impressed with your ambitions. Please tell this to US/ NATO also, who are unable to train these Afghans since a decade.

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  • Abdul Hameed
    Oct 9, 2011 - 7:05PM

    @sachin: You are right, in past Afghanistan leaders invaded India on many occasion, but you forgot your own history, Do you know when British invaded Afghanistan most of their soldiers were Indians not Britons.

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  • Stevenson
    Oct 9, 2011 - 7:29PM

    @Shafiq Nasery: Maybe you need to remind yourself of where you stand and where your people stand. The vast majority are begging all over the world but you insist on bragging. Perhaps this is the reason why Afghanistan will remain troubled. You people can’t own up to your own problems but blame others. You really need to look into the mirror. And I agree with the comments by Pakistanis who say enough if enough. If you want to be such buddies with the Indians, then please tell all the Afghanis who are enjoying a good life in Pakistan to move to Afghanistan or India. The cheapest thing for the world to do instead of giving your country billions which your corrupt leaders loot, is to build a big fence around Afghanistan. Think about how much easier wit would be. Iran keeps their Afghani refugees locked in camps and the Central Asian states also want to fence off with Afghanistan. This should be world policy to keep the sickness of Afghanistan confined to Afghanistan.

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  • AK
    Oct 9, 2011 - 8:16PM

    @Shafiq Nasery: “Afghans will take their revenge if its in a year or in 100 years we are good at being enemies and thats what we have been doing so wait and watch and dont cry and run to china for asylum.”

    Unfortunately, its that mindset which has landed you in your supreme mess. Your country can only think about revenge and war.

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  • Someone
    Oct 9, 2011 - 8:23PM

    @Ahmad Barakzai: There are about 50,000 unregistered Afghans in Karachi alone and countless more in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. What’s next, are you going to claim Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi as part of your “historical lands” too? Your countrymen are living all over the country from Peshawar to Karachi, and whats more, most of them don’t want to go back to Afghanistan either because they know the standards of living in their country is 2,000 years behind. How about you guys reclaim your own lands i.e. Kabul, before extending your definition to areas as far as Pakistan? Lol…just remember that it was Pakistan, not India, that provided you living space, food, shelter and even access to high quality education in types of schools and universities that wont exist in Afghanistan even in the next century. The least you can do is be thankful about it. I’m sorry, but we already have 180 million people to care about. We don’t need you to come as refugees in your “historical lands.” Just stay back in your own homes wherever they are in Kabul, Jalalabad and Nangarhar and leave our cities alone please.

    Someone is right when they say that “imaginations and dreams have no limits.”

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