Pak-Afghan relations — a steady decay

Published: October 28, 2015
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In this file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani shakes hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP

In this file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani shakes hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP

The days of hope that came with the election of President Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan have faded, and been replaced by seemingly a return to the default position of mutual animosity and recrimination. Whatever veneer of trust had been built has worn away. Seven soldiers were killed by fire from the Afghan side of the border on October 27. The fire was directed at an area in the Shawal Valley where the Pakistan Army is conducting an anti-Taliban operation.

It is unclear whether the fire came from Afghan forces or militants seeking to support their comrades in the Shawal Valley, but the incident has been claimed by yet another splinter group, calling itself the Majlis-e-Askari. Matters are no better diplomatically with Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah as he has said that he has doubts and suspicions in respect of the Pakistan role in the currently-stalled peace process that encompasses the Taliban.

Complexities abound. The Afghan Taliban have had a very successful fighting season and their brief taking of Kunduz is a clear indicator that they remain a powerful force both militarily and politically. Simply, there is no way around the Taliban and any peace process is meaningless without them at the table — a reality of which they are well aware. Equally aware are the elected governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the prime minister of the former pointing out to President Obama on his recent visit to the US the difficulties of getting the Taliban to the table whilst at the same time killing them in significant numbers. There are trust deficits everywhere — nobody trusts anybody else and there is a plentiful history of broken promises and abandonment to offer as evidence of duplicity and dissembling. All sides are guilty, there are no innocents. The Taliban hold and administer large parts of Afghanistan and have durability and resilience. Their strengths play to the weaknesses in the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Taliban are content to assume a position of masterly inactivity as far as any peace process is concerned while the two governments lapse into recrimination and animosity. Peace remains a distant dream.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • numbersnumbers
    Oct 29, 2015 - 2:20AM

    Notice how this “editorial” carefully neglects to identify the Afghan Taliban as one of Pakistan’s many “Good Taliban” assets that the state has openly supported over the past decade!
    The Afghans have a long memory of the death and misery inflicted upon their country by those beloved assets, and so Pakistan’s recent refusal to stop supporting them is evidence enough for the world to judge Pakistan’s continued duplicity in relations with its neighbors!Recommend

  • Motiwala
    Oct 29, 2015 - 6:03AM

    Bharati agent Karzai has been busy. Now he has a mansion
    next to Modi’s house, on Beefless Boulevard in Delhi.Recommend

  • khattak
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:13PM

    Afghanistan no longer trust Pakistan as an honest broker. So keep your assets, it may lay golden eggs for you. In the mean time Russia has been formally requested by President Ghani to provide 70 MI-35 helicopters, modern jet fighters SU35 & artillary. This is the side effect of keeping strategic assets cum terrorist. Modern & battle hard strong Afghan Army at the cost of close to $100 billion. Thanks to the strategic assets, otherwise, why Russia & US would compete for such huge investment in Afghan Army. Have a good night sleep & don’t be jealous & curse your Molla Jihdi assets.Recommend

  • Afghan Maihan
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:27PM

    @ Motiwala

    Hamid Karzai lives next door to Ashraf Ghani.Recommend

  • cautious
    Oct 30, 2015 - 6:28PM

    Into the second year of Pakistan’s largest military offensive and I have yet to read a single article describing an attack on the Haqqani …. the same Haqqani who had absolute control over N Waziristan prior to the offensive. Relationships aren’t going to improve until you put your money where your mouth is.Recommend

  • sterry
    Oct 30, 2015 - 9:55PM

    @khattak: Why should anyone trust Afghanistan as an honest broker? They have willingly become Indian puppets since 1947 allowing their country to be used as a base for mischief against Pakistan. Former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel confirmed the obvious statement that India uses Afghanistan as a base to cause mischief in Baluchistan and KPK but the Indians failed. After decades of trying to foment trouble in Pakistan, especially KPK, the chickens came home to roost and Afghanistan descended into civil war. Afghans have only themselves and the Indians to blame for their own sad state! No one is worried about the Afghan army because nothing new is happening. Despite all the money and investment spent on the Afghan army, most Afghans would still prefer to smuggle themselves into Europe illegally to cry for asylum. Have you not been watching the scenes from Europe?
    If Afghanistan is serious about improving its country, they have to stop working with India in terrorism and focus on improving the lives of poor Afghan citizens. Recommend

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