We can be glad the one-day trip to Kabul by adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has gone well. During the visit, Aziz, who met President Karzai as well as a slew of other officials, including Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, stressed that Pakistan wished for a stable, independent Afghanistan. He also took up the matter of bilateral transit trade ties.
From first appearances the trip seems to have gone well. President Karzai, who has made his displeasure with Pakistan openly known over recent months, has accepted an invitation to travel across the border and this can be seen as an encouraging sign. Certainly, given the manner in which the two countries are linked, chiefly by the militancy they must both combat, cooperation between the two is vital. Without this, it seems unlikely that terrorist forces responsible for violence in both countries can be defeated. Militancy has, of course, been the reason for the Kabul government’s wrath directed towards Pakistan, with accusations made that powers within the country are backing specific groups active inside Afghanistan, thereby adding to the woes of that war-torn nation.
This is a matter Pakistan needs to clarify. It must lay down its Afghan policy in the open. There is too much confusion over this, driven on by the belief that prevails in many places that Islamabad is keen to establish control over Kabul following the US force withdrawal scheduled for next year. In this context Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s comments, made a few days ago after he attended a briefing by the Foreign Office, that Pakistan did not wish to intervene in Afghanistan in any way, should go down well in Kabul. Aziz’s visit, too, seems to have made a good impression in that capital, and we must hope this can be the start to building a closer relationship with Kabul that the region so badly needs if it is to find stability and some sense of calm. Certainly, these are required for the sake of a more secure future for both nations and their people.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.
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