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Islamabad

June 13, 2017

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Internal situation in Afghanistan

A truck bomb recently killed more than 100 people in Kabul and injured hundreds of others. The huge suicide bomb ripped through a highly secure area dotted by checkpoints and with concentration of local and foreign troops. According to reports, the explosion happened close to foreign embassies, government institutions and residences of senior Afghan government officials. But it was not the first attack of its kind in Kabul this year. There have been several other high-profile bombings and attacks in the Afghan capital and in other parts of the country.

Afterwards, President Ashraf Ghani, speaking at the opening of the so-called Kabul Process, a gathering of 23 nations, the EU, UN and NATO to discuss security and political issues in the country, claimed that Pakistan was waging an “undeclared war of aggression” against his country. This was immediately rubbished by the Pakistan Foreign Office. At the same time, the Afghan president again invited the Taliban to peace talks, calling it their “last chance” to give up their 16-year insurgency and join the political process. “If Taliban wants to join peace talks, the Afghan government will allow them to open an office,” Ghani reportedly said. “But this is their last chance,” he warned.

Surely Pakistan is not to be blamed if the Taliban are on the offensive in Afghanistan or the situation in Afghanistan is even worse than observers had expected. Islamabad is not responsible if Afghan forces are unable to mount an effective challenge to the Taliban. Or for Ashraf Ghani’s weak leadership and political decline, which has led to deterioration in security in the country with considerable chunk of land going to the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the deadly Kabul attack has added to concerns about the stability of Ghani’s government and Afghan forces’ prowess to take on the Taliban and Islamic State. The bombing dramatically demonstrates the failure of the Ghani government.

The complexities and uncertainties aside, the people of Afghanistan are tired of the protracted proxy warfare, strife and lawlessness in their country and are desirous of peace. It is time the Afghan bureaucracy and government circles adopted a constructive approach not based on lambasting Pakistan for terror attacks in their country. Instead of stoking suspicions over the attacks by terrorist groups, Mr Ghani should look inwards what has gone wrong and give peace a chance. He should discourage cross border militancy, end sanctuaries to terrorists like Mullah Fazlullah involved in killing thousands on the Pakistan side of the border, the Indian nexus with TTP leaders besides taking other measures.

One does not have to look far how deep India’s involvement in Afghanistan is. Former US defence secretary Chuck Hagel in his famous remarks admitted: “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border. And you can carry that into many dimensions, the point being (that) the tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years."

It would be a fallacy to think that Pakistan has been in an undeclared war with Afghanistan since 9-11 or the problem is fundamentally about peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A positive Pak-Afghan relationship can draw maximum economic dividends for the future generations of the two countries. 

 

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