‘Mistakes, mistrust and hateful errors’ poisoned Pak-Afghan relations far too long
Someone remarked that in politics, the beginning of everything lies in mutual distrust and doubting the good intentions of others. Similar suspicion have marred the Pak-Afghan relationship even in the good old times of peace, but post 9/11, except for a brief flirting period with the Taliban government, it has been one of a surly and sulking enmity, even more so at the present juncture. The issues between them are truly of an exasperatingly complex nature, with outside actors weighing in with their own agendas and interests. The world is desperate to see a rapprochement but the two antagonists seem unmoved, indulging in hateful rhetoric for all seasons. And the only winners of these verbal wars are the terrorists, and the most dangerous threat of all, the IS.
China, Russia and Pakistan have already held tri-lateral talks in Moscow in a bid to find a workable solution where the Americans have consistently failed. Two other recent events also promise a possible new beginning in resolving the seemingly intractable problems between the two. The first is the invitation extended by Kabul to the new Pakistan Army Chief to visit Afghanistan which needs immediate positive response and the call on him by the US commander in Afghanistan this week, where the exchanges were more mutually complimentary than acrimonious. The second was the workshop on Pak- Afghan ties in Karachi, chaired by the former Swedish Ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan and attended by Parliamentarians of both countries, which was a sincere attempt to bridge the gulf of mistrust between them on key matters and to end the standstill in their bilateral relations. The world is now wary of terrorism’s global reach.
An earnest new beginning in settling border disagreements, the refugees’ question, cooperation in a joint cross- border strategy against terrorist camps, in the realms of security, media, education, arts and culture, sports and trade (which fell from $2.5 to $1.5 billion) are essential to get the sour relationship moving again. The alternate is too dreadful to contemplate.