Why Peace In Afghanistan Means Peace In Pakistan – OpEd


Pakistan’s prime minister adviser on foreign Affairs Mr. Sar Taj Aziz paid a visit to Kabul on Sunday to assure the new government of the support of the Pakistan government. The trip also aimed to repair ties with the new Afghan government led by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai after many of the setbacks in the relations of these two countries. In his farewell speech, Mr. Karzai said the war was not among Afghans but “for the objectives of foreigners”.

He said a friendly relationship with the United States was possible, but only if their words matched their actions. He strongly criticized Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan also, saying it wanted to control Afghan foreign policy.”If America and Pakistan really want it, peace will come to Afghanistan,” Mr. Karzai said. He further stated that Pakistan asked him to accept the Durand line as a formal border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But sources close to the Presidential Palace state that the trip had no gain for the Pakistani delegation led by Sartaj Aziz. Mr. Sartaj Aziz gave President Ghani a formal invitation from the Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif to pay a visit in the near future to Pakistan but President Ghani insisted that until Pakistan takes concrete steps in restoring peace talks, visits will not be fruitful. “Until Pakistan shows and takes pragmatic steps towards peace talks, I will not visit Pakistan idly nor will I keep myself indulged in useless talks and meetings”- President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Pakistan PM in foreign Affairs- the source said by condition of anonymity.

It was also reported that before upon his arrival to Kabul, Mr Sartaj Aziz telephoned Mr. Ghani and assured him that a new chapter will embark in the relation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but according to sources in the National Security council of Afghanistan, Pakistan has played such games with the Karzai Administration in the past eight years and had no pragmatic outcome. This comes after former President Karzai said in his farewell speech, “I had traveled to Pakistan, where much of the Taliban’s leadership is believed to be based, at least 20 times seeking a negotiated end to the war, but my efforts were thwarted.”

Political experts here in Kabul are of the opinion that a third country should guarantee the commitment of the Pakistan government in regards to peace talks with Taliban and taking some concrete steps in bringing peace to this region. They say that it can be Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Turkey which proportionally have better ties with Pakistan.

According to credible sources near to the National Security Council, Afghanistan’s new strategy is to engage regional countries in fighting against terrorism. Last week Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Adviser to President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, has said all religious schools (Madrasas), which spread radicalism in South Asia, must be closed.

Atmar said radicalised religious schools have become a key element of the terror infrastructure in the region since they are being misused by certain state and non-state actors. Atmar did not disclose further information regarding the state and non-state actors which are misusing the religious schools, however his remarks were apparently towards Pakistan’s military intelligence – Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).

President Ghani is trying to adopt a new policy in regards to Taliban. President Ghani says that he will never visit Pakistan until it is result oriented and he will not participate in any dialogue that has no positive outcome. According to sources close to the Presidential Palace, he stated that the time has arrived to prove our words with actions. We should not rely only on conducting peace talks but rather to prove it pragmatically and strengthen it.

Since post 9/11 Pakistan has not been honest with Afghanistan and continued their double faced policy. Military pundit in Pakistan are of the opinion that the presence of Indian influence in Afghanistan is a direct threat to Pakistan national security while Afghanistan has assured the Pakistani authority that it will not let its soil to be home for terrorists and not let Afghan soil to be used against any of its neighboring countries. While on the other hand, Pakistan continued to rain rockets into the eastern province of Kunar, which borders Pakistan.

As Taliban fighters kill a growing number of Afghan soldiers, the country’s leaders are blaming Pakistan, an accusation that has sent the neighbors’ relations to one of the lowest points in more than a decade. Afghan officials say their allegations stem from an influx of foreigners fighting for a resurgent Afghan Taliban, as well as a Pakistani Islamist militant group’s recent announcement that it was abandoning domestic attacks and turning its sights across the border.

The TTP Punjab, commonly known as Punjabi Taliban and headed by Asmatullah Muawiya (a former leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), a Punjab-based banned Jihadi group) announced on September 13 the cessation of subversive activities in Pakistan, “in the best interest of Islam and the country”. Earlier, in a September 5 statement, the group said it would continue to fight in neighboring Afghanistan.

Way forward

Being a seasonal neighbor, Pakistan contributed a lot to today’s Afghanistan. Pakistan remained a major player of all these conditions in Afghanistan. As Pakistan shares a 2600 km border with Afghanistan, Pakistan has committed many mistakes while interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. They have tried their best to debilitate stable governments in Afghanistan for their own interest. Since Ashraf Ghani was elected as President it is a dire need for both countries to start to forge relations as a new beginning. Pakistan has to make sure that it is not going to interfere in Afghanistan internal affairs by buying loyalties or supporting the terrorist groups operating across Afghansitan. Pakistan shall use their own leverage and influence over some of the Taliban leaders and convince them to come to the table and resolve all issues with the new Afghan government through peace and negotiations.On the other hand, Afghanistan has to make sure that Afghanistan is not used as a breeding ground of actors against Pakistan stability.

Pakistan, with 190 million in population, is in dire need of energy and a market that can help them to sell their products. Therefore, Afghanistan is one of the best markets for their products and by the same token Afghanistan provides them a corridor for Pakistan to Asian states.

The recent agreements of projects that Pakistan signed include the Central Asia South Asia (CASA)-1000 power transmission and trade project which is likely to be completed by June 2015 at a cost of $997 million. The project would enable the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to sell their summer electricity surplus from existing plants in Central Asia-Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan and provide electricity to consumers in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Recently the Indian government approved a plan to develop Iran’s Chabahar port which will cost 81 million$. India has developed close security ties and economic interests in Afghanistan and via their vast investment in different sectors of Afghanistan they succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the majority of Afghans. Thus, Pakistan has to show the same spirit by investing in Afghanistan rather than supporting few proxies groups which will result in nothing but chaos and political instability in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Afghan government on the other hand has to make sure that its land is not used by any external power against Pakistan. Afghanistan can act as a third party bringing these two countries from being rivals into friends.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are living side by side. They almost share the same religion, culture and language. Both countries know it and the entire world knows all the good that they can accomplish working together to bring peace and stability to this region simply by standing together. Peace in Afghanistan is much glued with peace in Pakistan and vice versa. Until Afghanistan is peaceful, Pakistan will not have peace either. It is time to forget the past and forge new beginnings by cooperating and strengthening economic and political ties.

Aziz Amin Ahmadzai

Aziz Amin is a seasoned professional with a comprehensive and hands-on background in policy analysis, conflict resolution, security and peacebuilding, research and development, strategic policy and planning, media and strategic communication, governance, political affairs, and socio-political engagement within conflict and post-conflict contexts in South Asian and African region. He has written extensively for broader public audiences, with his work published in renowned media outlets including Foreign Policy, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs, First Post, The Diplomat, BBC, TRT World, War on the Rocks, Small Wars Journal, Eurasia Review, and The Week, among others.

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