Bad news for terrorists

A durable security foundation that is jointly owned is likely to produce positive results for Pakistan & Afghanistan

Editorial December 25, 2014

Those who terrorise Afghanistan and Pakistan and challenge the writ of the state in both countries may well be unsettled by recent positive developments in relations between us. For many years, Pakistan and Afghanistan were at odds, so much so that there was low-intensity warfare along parts of the Durand Line, incursions and attacks by Afghan forces on occasion and festering tension. Afghanistan accused Pakistan of using proxies to fight its government, and Pakistan accused Afghanistan of providing safe haven to those doing the same in Pakistan. Hostilities continued throughout the Karzai regime and despite protestations of brotherly love at prime-ministerial and presidential levels, the reality was that there was a massive trust deficit and diplomatic froideur.

The old playbook was cast aside along with the swearing in of the new Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, and relations have improved sharply. The meeting that took place between Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, his Afghan counterpart General Sher Muhammed Karimi and the Commander of Isaf forces General J F Campbell on December 23 would have been unthinkable as recently as nine months ago. There is unprecedented cooperation at the highest military levels, the men who really do take the hard decisions and sanction action upon them are all reading off the same page. This is extremely bad news for those in their sights. The terrorists had been able to exploit the differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan, in effect playing both sides against the middle. If matters go according to what is being planned — and already executed in the form of an operation on the Afghan side of the border — then those who previously found safe havens will instead find no hiding place. Both nations — and Isaf — are sharing intelligence, which will facilitate joint planning and coordination. The denial of operational space for terrorists is a key element in militarily defeating them. A durable security foundation that is jointly owned and serviced is likely to produce positive results for both countries, but the battle for hearts and minds beyond the purely military is yet to be joined, never mind won.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th,  2014.

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