Assuring Afghanistan

The question now to ask is whether this is an end to the blame game from both sides.

Editorial December 04, 2013
President Hamid Karzai speaks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s first visit to Kabul seems to have been all about optimism and mutual trust for an ‘all inclusive settlement of Afghanistan’ post-2014. The visit was the outcome of months of efforts on part of diplomatic circles of both countries — political leaders from Pakistan have been visiting Kabul from June. While the meeting revolved around the shared interest of both countries, peace remained at the top of the agenda. PM Sharif’s assurance that a “peaceful stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest” is a welcome sign. The question now to ask is whether this is an end to the blame game from both sides whose volatile borders have been the cause of much tension between both countries.

While Pakistan has freed a number of top Taliban leaders recently, trying to prove its sincerity to the cause of peace, Mullah Baradar — one of the top Taliban leaders whose release has been the cause of much speculation — once again featured in the statements of both leaders. While PM Sharif promised to help the delegation meet the Taliban leader, the statement issued by President Karzai’s office after the meeting for the “full release” of Baradar points to the fact that there is much to be discussed and assured. A question that now needs to be answered is: who controls the foreign policy?

While President Karzai’s long walks in the hills of Margalla are suggestive in their own way about how much both countries have in common and how important it is for peace to prevail, this is not the first time that such linguistic gestures have been made. Pakistan is apprehensive about the consequences once the Nato forces withdraw. Alarm bells have rung as the Taliban and other warring factions in Afghanistan say that any settlement which allows foreign troops to have a permanent basis in the country will be unacceptable. It remains to be seen if there will be a major shift in Pakistan’s Afghan Policy. It must be noted, however, that such meetings usually vary from ground realities.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.

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MK | 7 years ago | Reply

@sterry: Totally agree with you.

Afghanistan voted against Pakistan joining UN in 1947, in 1951 an Afghan national assassinated first Pakistani Prime Minister, in 1956 there were incursions by Afghanistan into Pakistan, Yes Afghanistan started all this to de stabilize a week Pakistan in its infancy, with Indian support. That made Pakistani establishment paranoid and when they grew to be a stronger than Afghanistan they turned tables on Afghanistan and started interfering in Afghanistan trying to install an friendly government that will not harm its interests.

Afghanistan under current regime is once again world's largest producer of opium/heroin. Current government is considered most corrupt in the world. Open border is cause of lots of troubles in Pakistan. Pakistan is not perfect but it is time to fence and gate the border, and movement should be monitored for illegal products/smuggling etc. A great Example is US/Canada border, where you can travel without visa but every movement has to be recorded and movement of goods and products is scrutinized.

Afghanistan's and Pakistan's policies towards each other has created current mess, and a progressive approach and a will to resolve the mess is needed on both sides. You can choose your friends but not neighbours. So it is wiser to have good relations with neighbours.

sterry | 7 years ago | Reply

@B: Perhaps you didn't read all the reports in Indian papers criticizing the US Defense Secretary but not only him but many US agencies have confirmed that India uses Afghanistan as a base for criminal activities against Pakistan. Here is one quick link by BBC: @Feroz: In terms of payback time, does India worry about the long term disastrous effects of using Afghanistan as a proxy and the long term consequences to India? People in glass houses should not throw stones as the saying goes. Decades of using Kabul as a base has only destabilized Afghanistan. Why can't India play a positive role instead?

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