Two incidents have recently taken place that can mar relations with Afghanistan if not dealt with realistically. The attack in Upper Dir by TTP militants from shelters in neighbouring Kunar province led to casualties on the part of Pakistani troops. The only practical way to deal with attacks of the sort by militant networks is coordinated action against them by Pakistani and US troops. It was an unwise policy to prolong the standoff between the US and Pakistan for nearly seven months. It is time for the required give-and-take leading to the cleansing of the safe havens of the militants on both sides of the Durand Line. To treat any militant outfit as a possible client is the height of folly in a world fed up with terrorists and their patrons. There is a need meanwhile to address the complaint from Afghanistan regarding the launching of rockets in Kunar by Pakistan. Earlier both Islamabad and Kabul used to blame the militants for any incident of the type. That now Kabul points a finger at Islamabad indicates a reduction in the level of mutual understanding.
Islamabad has claimed that men in Afghan National Army uniforms entered Pakistan’s territory on Monday and killed two people; it is not clear if the attackers were really Afghan soldiers or the TTP elements wearing their uniform. The incident again shows lack of understanding between the two sides which could be dangerous.
It is in Pakistan’s supreme national interest to help restore peace and strengthen security in Afghanistan. The terrorist attacks inside Pakistan will multiply if Afghanistan remains unstable after the allied troops leave it in 2014. Pakistan’s industry and business is in shambles on account of power shortages. To put them on back on track, Islamabad needs Central Asian gas and electricity which can reach it only if there is stability in Afghanistan. With a power cum trade corridor established from Central Asia to India on the one hand and to Gwadar Port on the other Pakistan will emerge as the major beneficiary from the trade which will bring it fees worth billions of dollars. This would make it permanently independent of foreign aid. To improve ties with Afghanistan, Islamabad has to get rid of some of the traditional misperceptions. To start with, Afghanistan has to be treated as an equal sovereign state instead of Pakistan’s backyard. Attempts to foist on Kabul a government of the agencies’ choice have to be abandoned. Nations need friends but hate those posing as masters.