ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan are quietly engaging with each other in an effort to mend their fragile relations in the wake of an attack outside the Afghan parliament building and minor border skirmishes involving troops of the two countries.
The latest incidents were a source of friction between the two neighbours and could even undermine painstaking efforts to improve their troubled ties over the last few months.
Before these incidents can cause deeper fissures, the two countries are accelerating their efforts to encourage peace and reconciliation, a senior Pakistani official told The Express Tribune. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the two neighbours activated ‘all available channels of communication’ to ensure that relations remain stable.
In this regard, a high-level meeting is expected between the two countries in the coming days. The meeting could take place in Russia later this week when the leaderships of the two countries would be there to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
Although Pakistan has confirmed participation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it is unclear who is going to the Russian city of Ufa from Afghanistan.
When contacted, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said the two countries were engaged with each other for better cooperation on all issues of mutual interests.
Last week, Islamabad and Kabul summoned each other’s envoys over the recent border incident in which two Pakistani soldiers were injured. Both the countries had accused each other for triggering the incident that took place along the border at Angoor Ada.
The border skirmishes came on the heels of the allegations by the Afghan intelligence agency that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was behind the attack on the Afghan parliament, a charge Islamabad has dismissed vehemently.
“We have given the commitment at the highest level that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used against Afghanistan,” said the official. He made it clear that Pakistan was committed to its promise and considers “enemies of Afghanistan as enemies of Pakistan”.
Since the national unity government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, was formed in Kabul last year, there has been significant improvement in the relationship between Islamabad and Kabul.
The turning point was believed to be the commitment given by Pakistan’s civil and military leadership that they would do whatever at its disposal to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.
In return, Ghani promised that his country would not shelter fugitive Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah and his other affiliates.
But Afghanistan appears to be increasingly frustrated over the continued attacks by the Afghan Taliban and lack of progress in the reconciliation process and hence is pointing accusatory fingers at Pakistan.
Sources in the security establishment believe that India is upset over the improvement in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan is playing the role of a ‘spoiler.’
In a statement issued on June 25 following the attack on the Afghan parliament, the foreign office said Afghan allegations suggested a familiar pattern of ‘certain spoilers’ whose objective was to disrupt the improvement in relations between the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.