Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News Analysis |

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani and held talks on key bilateral and regional issues as part of his day-long visit to Kabul on Sunday. General Bajwa’s first official visit as chief to Afghanistan could not have come at a more critical time as both countries are passing through a fractured relationship, one that is marred by mistrust and recriminations.

A closer assessment of recriminations points out to an important feature. While the Pakistani side of the border is by and large free from the clutches of miscreants, Afghanistan faces the predicament of dealing with the Taliban

Pakistani military delegation included Director-General, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and Director-General Military Operations(DGMO), Maj Gen Shamsad Mirza.

The revival of military diplomacy at the highest level with Afghanistan is timely as Pakistan ratchets up its efforts to ensure inimical elements causing trouble for it are targeted by Afghan and US forces; the visit is very significant in this regard.

Read more: Peaceful Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest: General Zubair

According to a statement released by the Afghan presidential office, both sides discussed a wide range of issues notably regional security, trade, border management and counterterrorism. The statement read Pakistan’s willingness to cooperate to fight the menace of terrorism.

Pakistan has ramped up efforts to garner support in favor of an Afghan-led peace process instead of a historically ineffective military-heavy US policy for Afghanistan

Ties between both countries have vitiated over terrorism with Afghanistan accusing Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorists. Estrangement has exacerbated after the announcement of the new South Asia policy in which President Trump warned Pakistan of dire consequences if it continues to allegedly harbor terrorists. Pakistan has not only rejected these allegations but has also asked the US and Afghanistan to “do more”.

The statement read Ghani terming the visit as a new chapter in the relations between the two countries. He expressed the desire to take advantage of new opportunities and arrest a fraying relation. Ghani also suggested the formation of task teams in different sectors to enhance cooperation. Besides, he also called for the establishment of a monitoring framework to ensure that things are going as per mutual understanding. Pakistan promised that task teams from their side will draft implementation plans.

Read more: Punishing Pakistan on Afghanistan: US Befuddled Policy

Pakistan has taken exceptions to inaction on part of Afghanistan against TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahraar elements inside Afghanistan which are responsible for launching grotesque attacks inside Pakistan

The meeting was labeled congenial and constructive by Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal. He took to Twitter to express his satisfaction over the conduct of General Bajwa’s visit. He tweeted: “Candid, positive, respectful, constructive & encouraging meeting in a long time. I’m proud to have played a facilitating role in all this.”

Military diplomacy has been used in the past to mend fences between the two countries. Earlier this year, a military delegation headed by the Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt Gen Bilal Akbar visited Afghanistan followed by Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar’s visit. However, the efforts were marred by the Chaman border skirmishes.

“Both sides emphasized that we must forget the past and work hard for a better future.” This is an encouraging sign coming out of Afghanistan and gives both countries a chance to lessen acrimony which has damaged the relationship lately.

Read more: Pakistanis must learn the limits of military led counter-terrorism

Besides, he also called for the establishment of a monitoring framework to ensure that things are going as per mutual understanding. Pakistan promised that task teams from their side will draft implementation plans

Pakistan has taken exceptions to inaction on part of Afghanistan against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahraar elements inside Afghanistan which are responsible for launching grotesque attacks inside Pakistan. Islamabad has time and again not only stressed upon its efforts for peace but also offered cooperation in fighting terrorism. However, after Afghanistan’s open references against Pakistan’s alleged role in the resurgence of the Taliban, Pakistan has also clarified that its security interests are paramount and that it cannot fight the Afghan war in its territory.

Pakistan has ramped up efforts to garner support in favor of an Afghan-led peace process instead of a historically ineffective military-heavy US policy for Afghanistan. China, Russia, and Iran are the regional players which have endorsed Islamabad’s viewpoint on the issue.

Given that the Taliban’s resolve will become stronger with the induction of more US troops, battlefield dynamics will least likely turn in favor of the National Unity Government (NUG). It, therefore, becomes imperative for Afghanistan to work toward a political settlement, taking on board regional actors of which Pakistan is important.

Read more: Aggression in the region: Islamabad all-set to draw support against the…

According to a statement released by the Afghan presidential office, both sides discussed a wide range of issues to include regional security, trade, border management and counterterrorism

A closer assessment of recriminations points out to an important feature. While the Pakistani side of the border is by and large free from the clutches of miscreants, Afghanistan faces the predicament of dealing with the Taliban and the ISIS-K in spite of heavy force deployment. In a bid to disallow remnants to cross the border into Afghanistan, Pakistan has undertaken the task of border fencing, something which Afghanistan has detested.

If the statement of the Presidential office is anything to go by, then both countries could work together to address each other’s concerns; all that is required is a two-way effort. However, there are speculations regarding the follow up on these commitments of cooperation.

Comments & Discussion