Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal |
Pakistan and Afghanistan relations worsened incalculably in the recent weeks. Both Islamabad and Kabul have been accusing each other. Neither side seems prepared to modify its position to mitigate the current tension. Though Islamabad has expressed its readiness at various forums to replace enmity with amity through sustained dialogue process, yet it fails to win the trust of Kabul. The latter’s endeavor to make former a scapegoat of its governance follies isn’t a rational tactic. It only increases mutual instability and suffering.
On June 1, 2017, a massive truck bomb killed at least 90 people and wounded more than 300 in a fortified Kabul’s diplomatic quarter. Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, immediately, accused Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack. And also blamed Pakistan for supporting Taliban.
Since 2001, the Afghan government despite the colossal support of the United States and its allies have failed to build Afghan state institutions and defeat the Taliban militarily. The failure of 350,000-strong Afghan troops trained and equipped by the United States to control rag-tag terror groups frustrates President Ghani led Unity Government. On June 1, 2017, a massive truck bomb killed at least 90 people and wounded more than 300 in a fortified Kabul’s diplomatic quarter. Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, immediately, accused Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack. And also blamed Pakistan for supporting Taliban.
The Kabul Process
The representatives of 23 nations, including Pakistan, the European Union, the United Nations and NATO on June 6, 2017, attended the “Kabul Process.” The primary objective of the process was to deliberate and chalk out a practical strategy to resolve the security and political challenges of Afghanistan. Ironically, instead of chalking out a realistic strategy to combat the menace of terrorism or combat the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan, the Unity government used the meeting to malign Pakistan. President Ashraf Ghani, categorically claimed Pakistan started an undeclared war of aggression against Afghanistan. He said: “What will it take to convince Pakistan that a stable Afghanistan helps them and helps our region?” Indeed, the stable Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan. One needs to realize that Pakistan alone cannot restore peace in Afghanistan.
“The onus of setbacks and failures in Afghanistan should not be blamed on Pakistan. The mere rhetoric of blaming others to hide their failures in Afghanistan will not solve the problem.”
President Ghani’s atrocious accusations, however, were cautiously reciprocated by Islamabad. On June 6, 2017, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria opined: “The onus of setbacks and failures in Afghanistan should not be blamed on Pakistan. The mere rhetoric of blaming others to hide their failures in Afghanistan will not solve the problem.” While reiterating its stance, Pakistani leadership recommended instead of blaming the neighboring state, Kabul needs to look inward and identify the real cause of the problem.
The recent spate of terror activities in Pakistan has further increased mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad. On June 23, 2017, two separate terror attacks in Quetta and Kurram Agency terrorized the entire country. 13 people were killed and 20 injured in Quetta and 70 people were slaughtered and more than 200 wounded in twin blast in Kurram Agency’s Parachinar area. Pakistani law enforcement agencies concluded that these attacks were launched by terrorist organizations from their secure sanctuaries in Afghanistan. The DG ISPR claimed, “Recent terrorist incidents linked to sanctuaries across [the Pak-Afghan border].” It is an open secret that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan operates under the patronage of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing from its sanctuaries located in Afghanistan.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated: “Unfortunately our sacrifices against terrorism are not well-acknowledged and we are often subjected to demands of ‘do more’.”
The Pakistanis questioned the discriminatory treatment over the terrorism and its contacts with Taliban. They opine that every time Pakistan is blamed over the incident of terrorism in Afghanistan. Ironically, there is no discussion in international forums about the terrorism that comes to Pakistan from across the border. On June 24, 2017, Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated: “Unfortunately our sacrifices against terrorism are not well-acknowledged and we are often subjected to demands of ‘do more’.” It was reported that Republican Congressman Ted Poe, Democrat Congressman Rick Nolan, had introduced a bipartisan bill in Congress, seeking to revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally. Indeed, it is Washington’s pressurizing and punishing tactic.
Remarkably, Kabul is very much critical about Pakistan’s contacts with Afghan Taliban. However, President Ghani administration remained tongue-tied after Iran’s ambassador to Kabul, Muhammad Reza Bahrami confirmations in December 2016 that Iran has contacts with Taliban. Similarly, Russian’s admittance about their contacts with Taliban did not enrage Afghan government. Amir Kabulov, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan stated: “Taliban interests objectively coincide with ours.” In this context, one cannot ignore Americans duplicity in dealing with Afghan Taliban. They directly contact/deals with Afghan Taliban in time needs, whereas they continuously pressurize Pakistan to take punitive actions against Afghan Taliban.
To conclude, the mistrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan is in the advantage of terrorist organizations. Instead of taking a practical action against the increasing influence of Daesh in Afghanistan, President Ghani is simply accusing Pakistan. The tension between the neighboring States not only wastes their precious resources but also hinders cooperative efforts, which are imperative to combat the menace of terrorism. Thus, the accusatory approach is neither in the interest of Pakistan nor Afghanistan.
Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.