Written by admin on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

A new chapter in Pak-Afghan relations
SOURCE: Daily Times
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 (Posted)

In a recent interview to Geo’s Saleem Safi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of insincerity towards Afghanistan. He said that the state-to-state relations with Pakistan are a bigger challenge for Afghanistan than the existence of terror groups such as the Al-Qaeda and Taliban. The Afghan president alleged that Pakistan continues to provide sanctuaries to terrorists in addition to training them, which make relations with Pakistan a bigger challenge for his country. Furthermore, he also criticised Pakistan’s stance on “good” and “bad” Taliban. He blamed Pakistan for helping certain Taliban factions despite Pakistan’s avowed stance of going out against terrorists without any distinction. Moreover, Mr Ghani also claimed to have addresses of Taliban leaders living in Quetta.

Other than firing accusations on Pakistan, Mr Ghani also highlighted Afghanistan’s efforts against Mullah Fazlullah by stating that the Afghan forces have bombed the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief 11 times along with attacks on his close aides, but that he was disappointed in Pakistan’s attitude towards the issue by stating that there has not been a single operation conducted by Pakistani forces against the Haqqani network, and in the past, on Taliban leaders including Mullah Omar and Mullah Mansoor who freely travelled on Pakistani passports. Furthermore, he also alleged that terrorists wounded in Afghanistan had been openly treated in Pakistani hospitals. He also rejected allegations that the Afghan government had sabotaged the peace process by leaking the news of Mullah Omar’s death.

Pakistan’s response to the allegations from Afghan president should be a measured one as it cannot afford to worsen the bialateral relations any further. These allegations from Mr Ghani come in the wake of the recent tension on the Pakistan-Afghan border. Furthermore, the Pakistani-brokered peace negotiations between Taliban and the Afghan government have also reached a stalemate since the revelation of Mullah Omar’s death last year. Allegations continue to pour in not only from Afghanistan but also from the US authorities of terrorists’ sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. Pakistan for the sake of peace within Pakistan and on its borders cannot continue to ignore these allegations behind the veil of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has been continuing in the Pakistan-Afghan border region for more than two years now. Pakistan cannot expect others to reciprocate positively until it does not go all out against terrorists without any discrimination.

Pakistan should address the apprehensions of the Afghan government in a reasonable and nuanced manner instead of a verbal exchange of accusations. Moreover, Afghanistan should also do more to seal the porous Pakistan-Afghan border to stop the illegal movement of people.

Regarding the issue of India’s role in Afghanistan, Pakistan should convey its reservations to the Afghan government on the alleged subversive activities of India that could prove harmful to Pakistan.

Other than that, Pakistan should not interfere in the internal matters of Afghanistan, as Afghanistan being a sovereign state has every right to maintain relations with any country it desires. India is working on numerous development projects in Afghanistan, and these projects would not only add to the confidence of Afghans towards the Indian government but also give India the opportunity to reach the Central Asian Republics through Chabahar port. Pakistan also needs to improve its image in Afghanistan, and for this purpose, it should not only act against terrorists without any distinction but also help Afghanistan in its process of rehabilitation. Efforts should be continued to bring the Taliban on the table for peace negotiations as that is the only way of achieving a durable peace in the region.

Pakistan should show the Afghan government and the Afghan people that as a good neighbour and a sincere friend Pakistan is there to help Afghanistan in any way possible to bring an end to war there, ensure peace all over the country, and be an active partner in its short and long-term rehabilitation.


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