Pak-Afghan peace for mutual benefits

Witnessing the experience of the last 14 years war on terror being fought in Afghanistan it can be clearly said that peace in Afghanistan and the region hinges on the establishment of good relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since former Soviet Union’s military intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, the anti Soviet guerrilla war fought by the Afghans, Soviet’s ultimate withdrawal in 1989 and internal war in Afghanistan which ensued thereafter till today, the Afghan people have suffered too much. In the aftermath of 9/11 and fighting of the war on terror by the US and ISAF forces, for the last 14 years, being a front line state to fight the war on terror, Pakistan has not only suffered heavily while fighting this war, it has also severely suffered out of the spill over impact of the war in the form of fighting terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. And, while the US and ISAF forces have had already withdrawn, Pakistan is still fighting the war on terror due to prevailing turmoil in Afghanistan. Therefore other than Afghanistan, Pakistan is the country that has suffered the most out of this war.

In the above context, it was ironic that India, our enemy in the east exploited the war on terror in Afghanistan to its advantage. It provided cooked intelligence to the US and ISAF forces to blame Pakistan that it was playing a double game. In fact India did it to draw benefit out of western sentiment of 9/11 terrorist acts and such terrorist acts which happened thereafter in some western countries. India dubbed Kashmiris’ freedom struggle as terrorism and undercut the US and EU’s support for that struggle. While India was able to marginally influence the US and EU countries about its allegations on Pakistan, the former Karzai Government became a total prey to the Indian propaganda and it in turn gave political and military space in Afghanistan to India to the detriment of Pakistan. Thus, India was  able to increase its influence in Afghanistan by blaming Pakistan for supporting terrorist acts in Afghanistan and resultantly started inciting and supporting Balochistan dissident elements to fight against the Pakistani state. Later, India also started financing and supporting Tehrik-Taliban- Pakistan (TTP).

In other words, India brought this war on terror into Pakistan, which it is still fighting and India is still supporting terrorist acts in Pakistan. In this regard, an earlier statement of Mr. Hegel and testimony to the US Senate of General (R) Mc Crystal that India’s presence in Afghanistan was a source of trouble for Pakistan are clear evidences of India using Afghan soil for supporting terrorism in Pakistan. In this context, Mr. Sartaj Aziz has already stated many times that Pakistan has concrete evidence that India is supporting terrorism in Pakistan and Pakistan is already poised to take up this issue at the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNSC) annual session which has already commenced.

However, hats off to the Pakistan’s military that it has fought the war on terror in a heroic manner and now it is quite close to winning this war, although to the utter disappointment of India. And, it is visualized that India will have to ultimately retreat from supporting terrorism in Pakistan. Nonetheless, after having suffered much out of the war on terror, Pakistan also needs internal peace and stability  to focus on its economic development and Pakistan Government is already doing enough in this regard on the internal as well as the external fronts. In this context Pakistan realizes that its internal stability is closely linked with peace in Afghanistan.

After having suffered heavily out of foreign intervention, internal wars, the war on terror since 2001 and now again being on the brink of another internal war, the current Afghan Government has to realize that Afghan people now need peace and development and for this objective to achieve it is necessary that the Government lays maximum emphasis on national reconciliation through peace talks among all ethnic groups in Afghanistan. For starting such a wide  ranging dialogue, it should be a priority of the Afghan Government to restart the dialogue with the Taliban, being the most alienated and warring side, who hail from the Pashtuns as a major ethnic group in Afghanistan. It is quite evident that unless a cease fire with the Taliban is reached it will be difficult to carry out and sustain the dialogue at national level.

In view of above, it is quite obvious that peace and prosperity in Pakistan and Afghanistan are interlined and depend on mutual cooperation of both the countries. Therefore, it is necessary that the Afghan Government led by Mr. Ghani and MR Abdullah Abdullah should understand that peace talks with the Taliban are necessary and in this context they should accord due recognition to Pakistan’s cooperation in bringing the Taliban on the table. Moreover the Afghan Government should realize that till a cease fire with the Taliban is decided through a dialogue, sporadic violent events in Afghanistan might keep occurring and for such incidents its should not follow Karzai’s example of blindly following Indian propaganda and start blaming Pakistan for supporting such incidents, as was recently done by the Afghan President Mr. Ghani after recent terrorist incidents in Afghanistan. Hence, instead of getting into a blame game, the Afghan leaders should start believing in Pakistan’s sincerity of assisting Afghanistan to achieve peace by facilitating talks of the Afghan Government with the Taliban.

If the Afghan Government continues to prefer India over Pakistan, being its immediate neighbor, not India, but both Afghanistan and Pakistan’s stability and economic development will suffer. On the other hand, if both countries cooperate to achieve peace in Afghanistan, they will succeed in this and will be able to ultimately prosper by succeeding in their economic development through harvesting the benefits which will ensue peace such as, regional stability, mutual trade, trade with Central Asian States (CARs), energy pipelines and transmission lines from CARs, foreign investment and benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwader Sea Port.

Pakistan Observer, October 2, 2015

        Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and  not necessarily reflective of 

        IPRI policy.

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