Pakistan has long claimed that support for militants from across the Afghanistan border is complicating its quest to defeat them. A security official has now said that as Operation Zarb-e-Azb continues, Pakistan has detected bunkers along the Afghan side of the border, lying adjacent to North Waziristan — and apparently intended to give refuge to militants. This is quite obviously disturbing. The question that arises is how the militants can be defeated, when they have powerful friends near at hand. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a problem with militancy. It is necessary that they work together, and not at odds with each other, if they are to overcome it and make both countries safer places.
Pakistan has alleged repeatedly that Afghanistan is giving shelter to some of the terrorists it wants most, like Mullah Fazalullah, who heads the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Kabul has denied this. The trust deficit does not help matters at all. Islamabad had hoped it would be able to establish better ties with the new, unified Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Sadly, gauging by events in North Waziristan and the discovery of the bunkers, this does not seem to be the case.
Afghanistan needs to realise that only a joint front with Pakistan can enable it to overcome militancy. This monster has grown too huge to be defeated by any one country on its own. This is especially true given the long, highly porous border which separates Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need an equal effort on both sides to hold back a growth in militancy. Afghanistan must realise that with a US pullout planned within months, it must work with Pakistan in order to vanquish an evil that has already hugely damaged both nations. Both countries need to find a way to cooperate if they are to defeat what is the most dangerous enemy they have ever faced. This is possible only if they are willing to work together for the same cause and put aside other games involving a desire for power or to create problems for the other country. Kabul needs to accept that a partnership is essential.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2014.