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May 20, 2017

Detained in Afghanistan


May 20, 2017

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan took yet another turn for the worse after the Afghan spy agency abducted and allegedly tortured two employees of the Pakistani embassy in Kabul on Wednesday. The men were held for three hours before being released. The incident is a shocking violation of diplomatic norms and the Vienna Conventions. Diplomacy becomes impossible when there is a fear that your embassy staff may be picked up at any time. The Pakistan Foreign Office summoned the Afghan deputy head of mission to protest over the illegal detention but no statement has been made by the Afghan government, which needs to explain whether it is now their government policy to harass diplomats or if the NDS was acting of its own accord. Afghanistan has more than enough problems of its own without adding Vienna Convention violations to the list. The Taliban are as strong as they have ever been since being removed from power in 2001 and the Islamic State has now become a terrifying force in its own right. On Friday      it attacked the state broadcaster in Jalalabad killing six people while the Taliban attack on an army base last month was among the most devastating in Afghanistan’s recent past.

It was that attack on the army base which prompted Pakistan to send both military and parliamentary delegations to Afghanistan to condole. The only response to the visits from President Ashraf Ghani was to say that he would not visit Pakistan until Taliban members supposed to be living in Pakistan are extradited to Afghanistan. Last week, speaking at a conference in Islamabad, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal claimed that the Taliban’s continued strength is entirely attributable to the support it receives from the Pakistani government. It is true that Afghanistan has legitimate complaints about how the Taliban manage to find refuge in Pakistan, just as we have every reason to be angry about the TTP and other militant groups making a hope in Afghanistan. But the comments made by Zakhilwal as well as the outrageous treatment meted out to our embassy employees shows that Afghanistan is trying to scapegoat Pakistan for its own problems. Afghanistan has consistently rejected every olive branch we have put out. In doing so, it has made it for difficult for peace to prevail in their own country. The damage Afghanistan is doing to Pakistan is minor compared to the pain it is inflicting on itself.


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