PAKISTAN and Afghanistan share a complicated history, they remained encircled to the fluctuating geopolitics of a region in which the overhang of conflict looms outsized. The unregulated traffic across a rugged and porous border has been a sticking point and major security concern throughout Pakistan’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan since 1947.
The current Afghan Government has not yet been able to carve out any effective policy towards tackling the ongoing Afghan conflict. Disagreements with the National Unity Government (NUG) are rife. Daesh appears to be seen as far more worst problem than the Afghan Taliban. Both have moved to the North and are fighting in unity. However, in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan, they are fighting each other. Moreover, to counter the influence of Daesh in North, Russia is allegedly arming the local militias to fight the terrorists belonging to Daesh. There is a common view prevailing in Afghanistan that the ordinary Afghan fears Daesh more than the Afghan Taliban. The Taliban operating in Afghanistan are somehow considered to be more cautious to avoid brutality and collateral damages than the fighters of Daesh. However, the war causality reports of Afghanistan represent a considerable number of Afghan civil casualties inflicted by the Afghan Taliban during their attacks and counter attack operations, which undeniably reveal that the Afghan Taliban’s brutality as a part of the so called collateral damage is not less.
The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani has established a fact during his ongoing tenure that he remained the weakest of any previous Afghan Presidents. The differences between him and Mr Abdullah Abdullah still remain protracted. The said rift is considered as the basis of dichotomous and devoid of any clear policy for achieving peace and stability for the country. Besides, the Afghan officials have displayed an utter lack of interest during any initiative for the peace and reconciliation process, including the most prominent and effective peace initiative ever taken in the shape of QCG (Quadrilateral Coordination Group).afghan government half hearted participation in QCG confirmed that Afghan government has no indigenous and national interest based policy on the issue.
Experts opine that the point of main concern in the warn torn country; is not , who is the lesser evil in the Afghan conflict, the real concern is , who is willing to achieve peace in Afghanistan. Analyzing this complex and confusing situation of Afghanistan, its now becoming clear that the Afghan Government under the influence of regional and international politics and interests, could not carve out any initiative to bring the Afghan Taliban on the negotiating table .
According to a survey report released by the Center for Regional and Strategic Studies, it was found that 68% of the Afghans believe that the current government is not interested in bringing peace in Afghanistan. Afghan Taliban and Daesh are fighting alongside in the North, while they are fighting each other in the Eastern provinces of Afghanistan. To weaken this nexus in the North, Russia is reportedly arming the elements, willing to fight against Daesh. However, this move by Russia is viewed with suspicion by the Afghan government. There is a view prevailing among the common Afghan in different provinces of Afghanistan that ISAF remains soft on acting against Daesh in Afghanistan.
It is very discouraging that whenever any major security breach happens in Afghanistan , the Afghan government without getting into the investigation part of the process, bluntly accuses Pakistan by falsely attaching the support of Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network in Afghanistan. The rhetoric of blame-game must practically have to be stopped by Afghanistan. There is a need to reach out to Afghanistan to change its negative charge against Pakistan. We need to take multiple steps; simultaneously to dilute the negative impression and mistrust piled up by India in the heart and minds of our Afghan brethren. the current initiative of reducing the mistrust and practically bringing the steps for mutual cooperation and coordination to fight Terrorism needs to be enhanced by observing the rule of non interference and not allowing the respective soils for the ulterior motives of wicked enemies.
Experts widely agree that Pakistan has not been able to timely and effectively gauge the vacuum in Afghanistan; over the last one decade, which has allowed India to orchestrate her notorious engagements in Afghanistan. There is a need to enhance the trust level , economy, cultural, diplomatic, military and intelligence cooperation and collaboration. It may include opening up of more trade opportunity and citizen crossing points between Afghanistan and Pakistan for legitimate visitors and to foster more convenient exchanges between the brethren of the two brotherly countries. it has been estimated that the volume of total trade between the two countries has gone down from over $2.5 billion in 2015 to $500 million in the first half of 2018. These trends are said to be alarming by economy experts. The recent downturn in trade has coincided with a worsening of bilateral relations, and belies painstaking progress in trade and connectivity since 2006 that saw both sides manage to keep the collective value of imports and exports above $1.5 billion. Estimates suggest that potential trade between the two countries can be enhanced up to $7.5 billion annually, if the two sides decisively address the existing obstructions and leverage a growing regional network of regional corridors and highways.
Pakistan and Afghanistan both need to view each other from an independent perspective, rather than through the prism of India, or any other country. Even United States is not having the comprehensive understanding of Afghanistan and Pakistan, which could have facilitated both the countries for having certain exclusive arrangements of interactions and increasing bilateral relations. Experts are of the opinion that there are certain factors which are required to be addressed on priority ,so as to reorient the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan government has a misplaced perception about Pakistan and has failed to appreciate a peaceful neighbor. There is another important issue of the border management, apparently, on the face value, the Afghan officials depict that they are willing to demonstrate a tacit approval for the building of the border fence between Pakistan and Afghanistan for an improved border management system, however, the on ground situation is pole opposite. Moreover, the reason for tacit and not a public acknowledgement is the emotional fervor the border fencing stirs among the nationalist segment in Afghanistan. However, as for Pakistan, it needs to reach out more intensely to Afghanistan for convincing them to change their futile approach towards Pakistan and initiate more comprehensive and result oriented steps towards peace in the region.