Topsy-Turvy Pak-Afghan Ties

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After the deadliest Kabul attack, Afghan government as usual accused Pakistan of supporting the terrorists behind the massacre. On, 31 January, Top Afghan security officials made a surprise visit to Pakistan for bilateral talks. The inaugural bilateral talks had begun in Kabul on February 3. On 10 February, Pakistan hosted the two-day dialogue with Afghan officials and the meeting ended without progress on issues. At the starts of the talks, the Foreign office had expressed optimism about forwarding movement. It was the Pakistani initiative for providing a framework for bilateral dialogue encompassing crucial issues that have kept souring the ties.

The Afghan government is continuously reprimanding that Pakistan is sending terrorists to Afghanistan. The United States and Afghanistan blame Pakistan for being a safe haven for terrorists. This is an irrational statement by US and Afghanistan. The Afghan officials also alleged that Taliban use sanctuaries on Pakistan soil to plot insurgent attacks in Afghanistan. But the Taliban do not need Pakistan, they have enough soil in Afghanistan to plot brutal attacks.

According to BBC investigative report findings, “Taliban are threatening control of over 70% Afghanistan, more than they controlled before 9/11”. Taliban control such a huge area and keep inside Afghanistan hundreds and thousands of kilometers away from Pakistan’s border. The perennial question is why did Afghanistan cast aspersions on Pakistan? Because, it is a long tale of mistrust, misfortunes, and lost opportunities. Unfortunately, Afghan government failed to protect its citizens from terrorists. Afghan rulers stash the dollars in their own pockets, rather than spend it on the education, health, or infrastructure. According to BBC report, “20% of the roads were destroyed and the remaining 80% continue to deteriorate.” The Guardian reported that Afghanistan’s corruption epidemic is wasting billions in Aid.

On October, Afghan Analysts Network Research group reported that Pakistan and Afghanistan have 235 crossing points, some frequently used by militants and drug traffickers, of which 18 can be accessed by vehicles. Khawaja Asif said, “Any free movement from their side to our side, or our side to their side, can breed mistrust and obviously some terrorist activity on our side or on their soil. It’s in our mutual interest that the border is fenced.” That’s why Pakistan is constructing a fence of 2,343 km long at Pak-Afghan border (Durand line) in order to curb the curse of across the border terrorism. It will be completed in 2019. All the movement across the border will be monitored by 750 CCTV cameras installed there. It is a great initiative by Pakistan in order to secure the western border. It will be more effective if D.C. current is released in it with the layer of landmines. On February, 9 Pakistan Foreign minister Khawaja Asif called on the US to pay and assist with Pak-Afghan border fencing and repatriation of the Afghan refugees. Less than 10% of the fence planned along the 1,456 miles (2,343 kilometers) of the mountainous border with Afghanistan has been completed so far due to financial constraints. Foreign Minister said the barriers will be finished by the end of 2019.

This Torkham border fence will stop the flow of terrorist crossing into both countries unchecked. Roughly 6-7 million Afghan refugees that went back to their home last year have largely returned to Pakistan, again, and again Pakistan has asked the Afghan government to take these refugees back but they refuse to this day. Uptil to this date, there are no serious efforts by the Kabul to get together with Islamabad to come up with some kind of resolution except the false accusations.

There is still a perennial impasse in Pak-afghan relations. Increasing Indian influence over Afghanistan has made the situation worst. India has been using Afghanistan against Pakistan since ages and trying to destabilize Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. Afghanistan should understand the fact that Pakistan is not its nemesis. It’s high time to distinguish between friend and foe. Stabilized Afghanistan is in the favor of Pakistan.

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has completed her M.Phil in Physics recently. She has a keen interest in writing on socio-political issues. She can be reached at [email protected]

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