A bed of nails

Afghanistan really does teeter on the brink of implosion

Editorial April 25, 2018

With the Islamic State claiming responsibility for a suicide attack on an ID registration queue in Kabul leaving at least 57 dead, Afghanistan continues to spiral into the arms of extremism. In the coming months the government hopes to register as many as 14 million adults at 7,000 polling stations nationwide for parliamentary and district council elections. There has been concern that a low turnout in the elections would undermine the credibility of the polls, a concern not unfounded given the fragility of the Kabul government.

Days after the attack that left the gutters literally running with blood Pakistan and America yet again fail to find what is described as ‘a common ground’ despite there having been several rounds of talks. Once again Alice Wells, point-person for the Trump administration on all matters Afghan, was in Islamabad and met with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. Both smiled and shook hands for the photocall and beyond that nothing is known of what exactly passed between them.

There are the usual anodyne statements to the effect that ‘talks remained inconclusive’ — which is just marginally better than there being no talks at all. Stuck to the surface of the table between the two sides is the matter of whether or not Pakistan has taken sufficient action against what the Americans allege are the ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan enjoyed by the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shura and the Lashkar-e-Taiba or whatever nom-de-guerre it is operating under today. Pakistan is certain it has done enough and America equally certain that it has not. Matters are in no way eased by the public killing of a motorcyclist who was run over by a US diplomat at a road junction in Islamabad. Factor in Pakistani concerns about Indian manoeuvering in Afghanistan, the festering issue of travel restrictions on diplomats of both countries and the outlook remains bleak. Afghanistan really does teeter on the brink of implosion.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2018.

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