79’ Soviet war, Mullah Omar’s Taliban regime, the September 11 attacks, and now the 2014 pull out. –reminds of something- yes Afghanistan. Ironically though, its supposed that Pakistan has played the facilitator all through─ hosted and trained AfghanMujahideen, and also sheltered over 3.5 million Afghan refugees.
One major question that boggles many minds is why, despite the material and political sacrifice and socio-political suffering, does Pakistani role in Afghanistan continue to draw negative publicity? Why do our relations with Kabul fail to normalize?
For U.S, gaining total control over Afghanistan has been a failure in, more or less, every division; be it geo-strategic, geo-political, geo-economic, diplomatic, intelligence or the military-cum-security failures. Neutralizing the threat of militant’s ─ Taliban being the major ones ─ still remains an unsolved mystery.
The result of this failure has called for greater pressures, both from Karzai and the US, on Pakistan to act against the Haqqani faction of Taliban in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. This failure and blame is resulting in further withering of Af-Pak relations as the US-influenced Karzai government has to synchronize with Washington’s call in blaming Pakistan for militant activities taking place in the country, obviously to hide the failures within.
The Afghan endgame is visible within striking distance. The situation is resting upon a proper roadmap from all the stakeholders. It seems like the coalition forces want to leave with their heads high, but the greater interest of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) bloc in the region would make it hard to carry on the proceedings as planned.
Pakistan and Afghanistan need to realise the fact that further reliance on the US would prove nothing but detrimental for both the neighbours. With all the development activities coming to a halt soon after the NATO exit, it will all be left upon Afghanistan and its neighbouring friends, most importantly Pakistan, to play their part in this process. Further, succumbing to US pressure will not only worsen the Af-Pak relationship, it will also prevent the resolving of impeding issues haunting both sides of the border and faced by none other than the common man.
Ironic it is that recently both Islamabad and Kabul levied strict restrictions on visa procedures with the applicants only allowed a single-entry one month visa and, that too happens solely after having used influential references. These bars have jeopardised not only the legitimate business prospects but has also created problems for journalists and employment seekers on both the sides. What’s amazing is that on a daily basis, hundreds of thousands of people cross the border – many of them without visa or a passport. With such a huge number of people moving about freely, though illegally, restricting the valid cases seems to make little, or no, sense.
The policy makers in Kabul need to realize that allies and friends can change, neighbours cannot. Whatever happens, Pakistan will remain a neighbour; one that hosts more than three million of your nationals and deserves special consideration in the policies being made. Such a neighbour should not be defamed in the world media on wishes of the allies to hide explicit failures. Kabul also has to make sure that its neighbour’s territorial integrity is not violated through uncalled for attacks from its side by the NATO forces as such surgical strikes have never helped in the past and have lead to severing of ties between both the states.