Sultan M Hali
Afghanistan appears to have lost the voice of reason because of its own shortcomings. Taliban control majority of rural Afghanistan, corruption, bad governance and political infighting has made the Afghan administrative hollow. Afghan National Directorate of Safety (NDS), is badly infiltrated by Indian spy agency RAW. The milieu is ripe for India to exploit the situation and urge Afghanistan to attack Pakistan tooth and nail and bad mouth it at all platforms. Afghan leadership finds a convenient scapegoat in Pakistan to blame it for its own gross incompetence.
In a scathing attack, Afghan Permanent Representative to the U.N. Mahmoud Saikal has stated that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was “tracked” and killed in Pakistan’s Balochistan in an American drone strike. He declared that the incident “exposed” that Mansour had a Pakistani passport in a fake name that he had used to fly numerous times from Pakistani airports. The Afghan diplomat accused “elements within the state structure of Pakistan” of facilitating most of the terrorist groups active in the region and said the country “needs political will” and not “nuclear deals or F-16s” to take action against terrorists.
In his statement to the powerful United Nations Security Council on the debate on U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Mahmoud Saikal went ballistic but in his tirade against Pakistan, he forget some essential elements.:
1. US and its allied attacked Afghanistan because it was harbouring Al-Qaeda, which had targeted the New York Twin Towers and Pentagon on 9/11.
2. On one hand the Afghan administration is blackballing Pakistan, on the other, it is requesting Pakistan to keep 3 million Afghan refugees for another three years.
3. The Afghan Diplomat claimed that Pakistan is violating other nations’ sovereignty. Before leveling charges, Mahmoud Saikal should have looked inwards whether Afghanistan enjoys sovereignty? Occupied by the ISAF, ruled by the Taliban with no writ of the state, it can hardly be considered sovereign.
4. Before echoing scripts written by New Delhi, Afghans should recall 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded their country, India which was a Soviet ally, did not raise even a voice of concern against the violation. Pakistan on the other hand hosted five million Afghan refugees and is still hosting over three million. Pakistanis fought shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan Mujahedeen to force the Red Army of USSR to retreat. In return Afghanistan is hosting the leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is wreaking havoc in Pakistan.
5. What Pakistan needs or does not need is none of Afghan’s business. Pakistan on the contrary is a sovereign country, which can look after its own security.
6. Possession of a Pakistani passport by Mullah Mansour is hardly evidence of Pakistan’s collusion. Travel documents of every country are available in the Black Market for a price.
Mr. Saikal quoted President Ashraf Ghani’s address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly where the Afghan leader had called on Pakistan to respect the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) agreements and take action against terrorists who have their bases and leaders in the neighbouring country.
Mr. Saikal should visit Pakistan and be kind enough to show a single safe haven of any Afghan Taliban anywhere in Pakistan. If it existed prior to Pakistan military’s launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, it is a matter of the past. The country is rid of the scourge of terror safe havens. If there were any, they have been successfully targeted and eliminated. Contrarily, the Afghan Taliban leadership roams about in Afghanistan with impunity, making a mockery of Afghan National Security Forces as well as the international Special Forces still deployed in Afghanistan.
On one aspect, the learned Afghan envoy to the UN is right. His country has morphed into a “launching pad” of terrorism against Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and the Far East. Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Taliban and other dark elements of all ilks, move freely on Afghan soil threatening the security of all of Afghanistan’s neighbours.
Mr. Saikal’s reiteration of Afghanistan’s commitment is at best laughable. His country is spoiling for a fight. Building a fence and check posts along the Pak Afghan border should be welcomed by Afghanistan as it would be a deterrent to cross border terrorism, but Afghan forces have been firing at the Pakistani peacekeepers and have martyred officers and men of Pakistan Army, endeavoring to keep the border safe.
After all the abuses hurled at Pakistan, casting doubts at its intentions and accusing it of duplicity, it should have distanced itself from the peace process. Unfortunately, Pakistan too is committed to peace in the region because it is a serious stakeholder. Having suffered severe fallout from the chaos prevailing in Afghanistan, Pakistan has lost more than sixty thousand precious lives to terror attacks. Unless there is peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot enjoy the fruits of peace either. A number of development projects which can benefit both Afghanistan and Pakistan, are being held hostage to the peace process. The Turkmenistan Pakistan India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the CASA 1000, are all being held in abeyance till peace returns to Pakistan.
Mahmoud Saikal should discontinue slamming the “unforthcoming attitude” of Pakistan, and appreciate that Pakistan too seeks peace in Afghanistan. Why should it sully the waters, when its own people, law enforcing agencies and installations are being targeted by terrorists based in Afghanistan?
History is replete with examples, where Afghans have exposed their ingratitude to their benefactors and suffered in the bargain. It is high time that instead of being led by rhetoric and venom being injected by India against Pakistan, the Afghans open their own eyes and judge for themselves who their real friends are. The recent invective by the Afghan Permanent Representative to the UN was carried as headline news by all Indian dailies and TV News Channels because his words of verbal assault against Pakistan were like milk and honey to the Indians. Instead of playing to the Gallery in New Delhi, Mr. Mahmoud should decide what is favourable for his own country.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.