Relations with Afghanistan on the mend
None could have imagined twelve months back that the Afghan army chief would be the chief guest at Kakul passing out parade anytime in the foreseeable future. A lot of groundwork by government and military leaders from the two sides has led to a new beginning between the two countries. Much more needs to be done to nurture the relationship.
It would be too early to predict if the relations will continue to develop on the same positive trajectory. Both countries have yet to do much more to enhance mutual trust. The IS attack that killed 32 in Afghanistan once again underlines the need for cooperation to eliminate terrorism and extremism. So do the attacks in Pakistan by TTP groups currently using the Afghan soil. Most of the recent attacks on religious and sectarian minorities in KP, Punjab, Sindh and the one at Wagah that left over 60 dead were claimed by TTP faction Jamaatul Ahrar operating from Afghanistan. There is a need for Kabul to take action against these networks using Afghan soil as launching pad for attacks inside Pakistan.
Pakistan on its part has to persuade the Afghan Taliban to enter into an understanding with the Afghan government as this would bring stability to the neighbouring country while ensuring peace along the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan has long hosted the Haqqani Network and Quetta Shura thus inviting the hostility of the Afghan government and the international community. If these groups fail to listen to their hosts, what has Pakistan gained from providing them shelter? While dealing with Afghans, Pakistan has to pay attention to their sensitivities. Afghanistan has long been treated as a backyard by Pakistan’s military rulers which insisted on having a government of Pakistan’s liking, willing to provide it strategic depth. It is time to get rid of this poppycock. Relations with Afghanistan have to be based on the accepted principles of equality, non-interference in each other’s affairs and mutual respect.