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Saturday April 20, 2024

Pak-Afghan ties

By Editorial Board
May 19, 2021

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been topsy-turvy for long. Lately, once again we have been witnessing ties hitting a lower ebb. The US’s announcement to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, has generated new debates and apprehension from all sides. Hardly anybody can dispute the importance of the withdrawal, but it has to be in a highly responsible manner without jeopardizing the peace prospects which have been elusive for over 40 years now in this region. A reduction in violence appears to be the first prerequisite that all sides must adhere to. The Biden Administration after coming to power in January this year has been stressing the need to end the senseless violence that has been raging and claiming thousands of lives every year in Afghanistan. There has been a flurry of phone calls between Pakistan and US officials discussing Afghanistan and other matters such as the release of Omar Shaikh by Pakistani courts.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Taliban, and the US must strive to establish a broad-based government in the wake of the withdrawal of all foreign troops. Now there is also a new twist in Pak-Afghan relations with Pakistan raising serious concerns over the recent ‘irresponsible statements’ from the Afghan leadership. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) forum is meant to resolve misunderstandings like this. At the moment, it seems that this forum is underutilized and both governments are publicly accusing each other of undesirable acts and statements. It would be in the fitness of things if both countries resolved their bilateral issues through proper channels and forums.

In a recent interview, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had accused Pakistan of harbouring the Taliban. Pakistan has naturally denied this and taken exception to such an allegation. Unfortunately, the perception of Pakistan being in collusion with the Taliban has lingered on for nearly a quarter of a century. Though Pakistan has facilitated the Afghan-Taliban-US dialogues in whatever way it could, the perception is not doing justice to Pakistan. Pakistani needs to remove this perception, because any statement from the Kabul government the world community takes on face value. Earlier this month, Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa visited Afghanistan and held talks with President Ashraf Ghani in a cordial manner. Now this sudden tirade of Ghani has once again strained relations between the two countries. This erosion of trust must stop forthwith, and the groundless accusation be retracted if any meaningful engagement is likely to take place. All parties need to play their constructive roles rather than pushing each other to bandy accusations and counter-accusations.