Goodwill spirit reciprocated with fire

IT has always been the earnest desire of Pakistan to maintain friendly and cordial relations with Afghanistan and it was in the same spirit that two high level delegations including that of Parliament recently visited Kabul and held talks with the Afghan leadership in order to promote greater understanding on critical matters. On its return, the parliamentary delegation was very upbeat about the prospects of relations with Afghanistan in the near future. However, Friday’s unfortunate incident in which the Afghan forces resorted to unprovoked firing on Pakistani villages near Chaman border that resulted into the killing of nine people and injuries to many and disrupted the census process in the area indeed is a major blow to efforts of peace and stability in the region. The incident has once established the fact that certain elements, undoubtedly pro-Indians, are active on the Afghan territory that do not want the two countries getting close to each other.
But at the same time one should not forget that Pak-Afghan relations are unique in the sense that these are not confined to government to government level but the relations spanning over many centuries have the ownership of the peoples of two countries and we believe that different segments of the society from both sides will have to come forward in order to foil the designs of the enemies that are bent upon creating cracks in our relationship. Pakistan has been supporting and trying to facilitate an Afghan owned peace process for long lasting peace in the country and it has always exercised maximum restraint despite provocation from the other side. It is however regrettable that the Afghan forces chose the Pakistani villages where the census teams were undertaking the population counting drive. Indeed, there was no justification for the Afghan border force to target the armless people on the other side of the border. Such incidents definitely will not help but only fuel anti-Afghan sentiments in our population which so far has kept the Afghan refugees very close to their hearts. The incident has come a day after the Afghan President rejected the invitation, extended to him by our military and parliamentary delegations, to visit Pakistan. Pointing fingers on Pakistan for its own internal weaknesses, we understand matters will not stand resolved but further complicated. Instead of resorting to accusations and speaking the language of Indians, the Afghan side should sit with Pakistan in order to address the issues relating to security and border management. Afghan forces should focus on checking the militant elements on its soil rather than challenging the capability and professionalism of Pakistan’s forces as in that scenario they will not find the space to hide. A message to this effect was also conveyed by the foreign office spokesperson at his weekly news briefing on Friday saying Afghans should stop firing otherwise Pakistani troops reserve the right to fully respond to protect its civilians. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also strongly condemned the incident calling upon Afghan government to ensure that such incidents are permanently stopped. Those sitting in the lap of Indians are hardly to give ears to the words of advice from their well-wishers but the Afghan leadership will have to do some retrospection as to what kind of seeds they are cultivating for their countrymen to harvest. Rising incidents of intolerance, extremism and terrorism within India should be an eye opener for Afghan leaders that the Hindutva promoting government cannot be the friend of any Muslim country. They are only using Afghan soil for their vested interests and to spoil Pak-Afghan relations. The sooner the Afghan leadership reads the true face of India, better will be it for the larger interest of the region. Given the current situation, it is imperative that our foreign office gears up its diplomacy and brief the important capitals about the issues with Afghanistan. We expect that regional countries especially China and Russia will come forward and play their role for harmonious relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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