Akbar Jan Marwat
ASHRAF Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, subjected Pakistan to some serious tongue lashing, hardly acceptable in a multilateral conference, being held to find ways and means of trying to help Afghanistan. The fact that the diatribe against Pakistan, took place in the Heart of Asia Conference held in India, was all the more painful. To properly comprehend this unprecedented onslaught by Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s perceived grievances against Pakistan, the role of Indian machinations, and the Pakistani position has to be analysed in-depth.
Afghanistan’s grievances against Pakistan primarily comprise of the fact, that: Pakistan is not taking action against militant organization like Haqqani’s which are inimical to Afghan interest. Another main grouse of the Afghan government is, that the Pakistani government has not been sincere in bringing the Taliban to the Peace-table. The Afghan leaders also allege that Pakistan has housed the militant leadership hostile to Afghanistan.
Before going to Pakistan’s befitting response to mostly lame accusations from the Afghan side, it would be illustrative to have a look at the highly reprehensible and non-diplomatic role played by India during the Heart of Asia Conference. The conference was clearly misused by India, to advance its single point agenda of painting Pakistan as a ‘terrorist’ state in order to isolate it in the International Community. Modi apparently conspired with Ghani – the ostensible beneficiary of the conference – to launch an aggressive charge sheet against Pakistan for allegedly supporting the Afghan insurgency Afghanistan.
It can safely be said, that India manipulated and used Ashraf Ghani to launch a frontal attack on a neighbour, which had given refuge to more than 4 million Afghans, a great number of whom are still reluctant to leave Pakistan. A civil war which essentially belongs to Afghanistan, has spelled over into Pakistan with all its attended evils like militarization, weaponisation and sectarianism. It would now be germane to our discussion, to discuss whether, Pakistan, has acted appropriately to the uncalled for hostility both from India and Afghanistan. In the opinion of this scribe, who has always advocated good neighbourly relations with the two neighbours, Pakistani response has not been as firm and robust as it should have been.
In response to Afghanistan primary grievance that Pakistan is helping terrorists inimical to Afghan interests. It can equivocally be claimed, that after the start of Zarb-i-Azb, in 2014, all militant groups have either been neutralized, or they have gone across the border to their bases in Afghanistan. It must be remembered, that after the invasion of Afghanistan, these militant groups had relocated to Pakistan. Once in Afghanistan, it is the duty of Afghan and American troops to deal with these groups. The lack of capacity of Afghan National Forces (ANSF) can surely not be laid at Pakistan’s door.
President Ghani assertion is that, Taliban can be eliminated in one month, if they do not have sanctuaries in Pakistan, is ridiculous at best. Afghan Taliban control vast swathes of Afghan territory, and thus have no need for bases in Pakistan anymore. Ghani’s lament that; Pakistan is not serious in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the peace table, is equality preposterous. Pakistan only has so much influence with the Taliban, and it did persuade the Afghan Taliban for negotiation. Had the Afghan (NDS), not gone berserk with the news of Mullah Omer’s death, and sabotaged the Quadrilateral Peace process, Afghanistan may have been well on the road to Peace.
Afghanistan and India’s open support to Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, and its link with militant Islamic group, which are carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan is known to all and sundry. Pakistan should take up these machinations of Afghanistan and India in the World Capitals and the UN Security Council. Although cordial relation between Afghanistan and Pakistan are vital for peace in the region, Pakistan should not grovel for the same. If Afghan government continues to misbehave, Pakistan can tighten the screws on it, by accelerating Afghan refuge repatriation; slowing down the transit of Afghan goods, and fence the border and strictly limit cross-border traffic.
As far as our response to Indian policies is concerned, our legitimate desire for peace should not reach the obsessional level of ingratiating our self’s to India at all coasts. History teaches us that weakness and timidity invite further abuse and pressure. Pakistan must adopt a more robust policy against India for the defence of our national interest. During BJP’s tenure, Pakistan must desist from following fruitless peace overtures towards India. Attending conference like the one in Amritsar, only bring humiliation to the country, and demoralizes its citizens. Pakistan must approach the Security Council against Indian atrocities in disputed Kashmir and its violations on the line of control as well as the working boundary. Pakistan on its own end should make sure, that official support is not given to anti India and Afghan militant groups. We certainly do not want to exacerbate existing tension with our two neighbours, but we also must not behave cravenly and give the impression that we would swallow every humiliation and transgression carried out against us.
—The writer is author, citizen journalist and entrepreneur based in Islamabad.