Righting the region

Published: August 27, 2013
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai PHOTO: REUTERS

Afghan President Hamid Karzai PHOTO: REUTERS

We all know peace and good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are crucial to the future of the people of both countries and the region as a whole. It is also obvious that, notably after the US withdrawal of troops in 2014 from Afghanistan, both nations will need to cooperate even more closely if they are to defeat the menace of militancy.

Against this backdrop, the signs that Kabul and Islamabad may be willing to alter the situation in which distrust has marred relations and prevented cooperation are extremely welcome and in particular the fact that Afghan President Hamid Karzai extended his visit to Pakistan by a day. Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif set the right foot forward in this respect when he said at a joint press conference with President Karzai that Pakistan sought a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and would do everything possible to help achieve this. On his arrival in Islamabad on August 26 and before meeting the PM, President Karzai, accompanied by a high-level team, had said that Pakistan’s help was needed for talks between the Taliban and the council set up by Afghanistan for peace. We must hope the PM’s gesture and word of reassurance can help build the foundation for this kind of mutual work together.

If this is to happen, all that has gone on during past months will need to be swept aside. The accusations by Kabul of Pakistan intervening in its affairs by backing certain militant groups must be dealt with. At the same time, Pakistan needs to be taken on board regarding growing Indian influence in Kabul. But perhaps, most important is the need for Islamabad to clearly show that it accepts that Afghanistan is a sovereign, independent country whose people have a right to determine their own destiny. There should be no attempt to play power games on its soil or in any way intervene in this process. The statement by PM Nawaz Sharif on a commitment to the welfare of Afghanistan is therefore good news. We must hope it will be fully adhered to in the future and more done to strengthen relations between the two neighbours.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • sid
    Aug 28, 2013 - 1:14AM

    Pakistan should be taken on board regarding growing Indian influence in Kabul

    Why????Is Afghanistan Pakistan’s colony………Do Pakistan take Afghanistan on board when they deal with third countries………

    shows Pakistan still wants strategic depth………

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  • aqib
    Aug 28, 2013 - 2:28AM

    It can perhaps be safely stated that Karzai’s writ does not go beyond his Presidential Palace. So to expect anything from him, quite a lot of people should be ready to be disappointed..Recommend

  • Mir Agha
    Aug 28, 2013 - 2:29AM

    “Afghanistan is a sovereign, independent country whose people have a right to determine their own destiny”. This right is earned, and Kabul has hardly shown that it deserves to be seen as an independent country who’s diverse people recognize it as a unifying force. That’s simply not the case with a colonial buffer-state like Afghanistan. It must show a course correction vis-a-vis Pakistan before it can expect any “help” from Islamabad. Hosting anti-Pakistan elements and inviting foreigners to try to gain leverage against Pakistan has not worked. Kabul must realize that for relations to go forward. Besides, the Taliban won’t listen to anyone when they just showed up the world’s only superpower. Karzai’s regime is doomed. The Taliban are Afghans as well, So is the Northern Alliance. So are the Afghans who invited the Soviet. So are the Afghans who were gleeful at the sight of Americans creating havoc in their “country”. So what exactly is it that the Afghans want? Pakistan, Iran, Russia, India, etc will continue to meddle in Afghanistan because Afghanistan cannot settle its own issues.

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  • polpot
    Aug 28, 2013 - 6:34AM

    “The statement by PM Nawaz Sharif on a commitment to the welfare of Afghanistan is therefore good news”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Pakistani Policy towards Afghanistan is littered by such well meaning statements which are forgotten the moment they are uttered. I expect no change whatsoever.

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  • polpot
    Aug 28, 2013 - 6:42AM

    The Curious case of the Missing Army Chief
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    When the Americans come he is photographed attending the meeting.
    When the Afghan President comes he is in hiding.
    Anyone can forecast the outcome.

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  • polpot
    Aug 28, 2013 - 6:44AM

    “Righting the region”
    ++++++++++++++++
    Wonder who wronged the region that it needs to be righted?

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  • pakiindi
    Aug 28, 2013 - 7:06AM

    And then. we need Kashmir also!

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  • unbelievable
    Aug 28, 2013 - 8:18PM

    At the same time, Pakistan needs to be
    taken on board regarding growing
    Indian influence in Kabul

    Why? Afghanistan is an independent nation that doesn’t need Pakistan’s approval. Editorial is a great example of ingrained attitude of Pakistan – you talk about improving relations and occasionally admit you have meddled in the past but you can’t get over your belief that somehow Afghanistan should seek approval from Pakistan. Lastly – your public posture is one of peace with India – if that’s true then why do you care whether India has presence in Afghanistan or any other nation?

    Recommend

  • Aug 28, 2013 - 8:46PM

    No one can deny that peace and good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are crucial to the future of the people of both countries, and the region as a whole. It is important for both nations to work together so they can curb the menace of terrorism that has hurt them and hampered the development that they both deserve. Pakistan and Afghanistan faces similar challenges and working together can bring about positive results for both nations. It is a promising sign that both nations have agreed to jointly pursue the construction and utilization of hydroelectric dam on the Kunar River, which flows through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Another sign of encouragement in improving relations is the statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson, Aziz Chaudhry, saying that Pakistan was ready to provide platform for direct talks between Afghan government and Taliban Leadership. As we draw down from the region, we will keep our promise to be involved with the region and help both nations with their development as productive members of the world community.

    Abdul Quddus
    DET-United States Central Command

    Recommend

  • Afghan Maihan
    Aug 29, 2013 - 7:22PM

    @Mir Agha

    Afghans can stomach India, Iran and Russia meddling in their affairs but collectively they hate the Pakistan sponsored Taliban and their alien Salafi/Deobandi agenda. The Indians and Iranians are not peddling something in the garb of a distorted Islam.

    I guess we should take lessons from Pakistan in settling our issues by having our leaders run off to Saudi Arabia for consultations every time there is a crisis in Pakistan. Afghanistan is doing just fine, worry about your own country and right your wrongs.

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