Unfolding scenario in Afghanistan | By Malik M Ashraf


Unfolding scenario in Afghanistan

THE Afghan President Ashraf Ghani yet again raised an accusing finger at Pakistan at the conference on ‘Central and South Asian Regional Connectivity, Challenges and opportunities held at Tashkent, Uzbekistan alleging that Pakistan was not supporting peace in Afghanistan as ten thousand fighters had entered Afghanistan from its territory.

Reacting to his preposterous suggestion Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly said that in view of the role that Pakistan has played in facilitating peace deal between the US and Taliban and intra-Afghan dialogue — globally acknowledged and appreciated — it was extremely unfair to blame Pakistan for the unfolding scenario in Afghanistan.

DG ISPR was also right on money in rejecting the Afghan allegations of fighters having entered Afghanistan from Pakistan pointing out that it had been the other way round.

The terrorists had been using Afghan soil for attacks in Pakistan and in spite of repeated requests to the Afghan government no action has been taken by the Afghan government against them.

The reality is that Afghan security agency NDS in collaboration with Indian RAW has been sponsoring and supporting these attacks.

To prevent cross-border movement of the terrorists Pakistan took a unilateral decision to fence the entire Pak-Afghan border on which ninety per cent work has been completed.

There have been several attacks on the security personnel of Pakistan engaged in fencing the border resulting in several casualties.

Regrettably the Afghan leaders have persistently been blaming Pakistan and looked askance at the efforts made by her to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan. Their rhetoric belies logic and ground realities.

Pakistan is the biggest stakeholder among the regional countries in regards to peace in Afghanistan as peace on its soil was inextricably linked to peace in that country. Pakistan had suffered the most due to the conflict in Afghanistan.

It has been hosting more than three million Afghan refugees for the last four decades and during the war on terror has lost more than seventy thousand of its citizens including personnel of the security forces besides sustaining a loss of $150 billion to its economy.

Afghanistan is a bridge between Central and South Asia and peace in that country is a key to shared regional prosperity through connectivity that the CPEC initiative has thrown open.

The success of the CPEC initiative promises transformational change in the economic profile of Pakistan and the regional countries. So logic dictates Pakistan’s sincerity in peace efforts in Afghanistan in her own interest.

Speaking of the ground realities, it is an undeniable fact that Pakistan has been making unrelenting efforts on bilateral and multilateral forums to promote peace in Afghanistan. It has always reiterated a political solution owned and led by the Afghans.

It played a pivotal role in bringing Taliban and the US on the negotiating table that eventuated in the signing of peace deal between them paving the way for exit of US forces from Pakistan.

It also used its influence on Taliban to initiate dialogue with the Afghan government. These efforts have been repeatedly acknowledged by US and the world community.

The situation in Afghanistan at the moment is actually attributable to the fact that the US has made a premature exit.

Pakistan has been advocating responsible pull out by the US and NATO forces. It should not have pulled out before a political settlement was made. The other reason is that the Afghan government itself is responsible for the continuing confrontation in the country.

Immediately after the signing of peace deal between US and Taliban it refused to release the Taliban prisoners as promised in the peace deal as a pre-condition for intra-Afghan dialogue.

It said that the issue could be discussed during the dialogue. This led to a stalemate and the negotiations could not commence as envisaged. It took protracted efforts to finally arrange an interface between them. But unfortunately that process has not moved forward.

The Afghan government is still holding round about 7000 Taliban prisoners, the release of which is the sticking point in the parleys between the two. The Taliban have offered a ceasefire in case those prisoners are released and to continue the dialogue.

There has been no response by the Afghan government. It does not seem inclined to striking a deal with the Taliban as is evident from the belligerent statements made by Ashraf Ghani to fight it out with the Taliban.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was right in saying that why would the Taliban listen to anybody when they were sensing victory and the dialogue should have been held while the US troops were in Afghanistan.

Afghan government is not only itself responsible for the obtaining situation in that country but is also playing in the hands of regional spoilers of peace.

India is the biggest culprit in this regard. Continuing turmoil in Afghanistan fits well into her efforts to sabotage CPEC as part of ‘contain China’ Policy of the US as her strategic partner.

It helps India in furthering her efforts to harm Pakistan by all possible means. The Taliban are also responsible for the unfolding events to some extent for failing to show some flexibility.

The Afghan government needs to revisit its stance of finding scape-goats for the situation in Afghanistan and also recognize the enemies of peace in their country. Blaming Pakistan for the turmoil in Afghanistan is not going to help.

Pakistan in spite of the hostility shown by the Afghan government is ready to promote peace efforts in Afghanistan.

Her joining the quadrilateral diplomatic forum comprising Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and US to support peace and stability in Afghanistan and foster regional trade and business is a ranting testimony of her peace-making credentials.

— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.

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