- Pak-Afghan recent joint talks are vital and welcome
The tireless and seriously Afghan peace-minded COAS embarked Tuesday on another Kabul visit to attend a conference with top US and Afghan commanders, the Chief of Defence Conference, in speeded up concerted efforts to bring about resolution of the long-festering Afghan war, whose security ramifications are becoming complicated and ominous by the day, while the Afghan people wallow in unending misery, poverty and insecurity. The neighbouring country has also displayed maturity by persisting with such joint engagements, despite recent deadly terror attacks in Kabul, inevitably blamed on Haqqani network and provocatively on Pakistan. Still, these intense, fast-tracked efforts for a genuine and lasting peace acceptable to all stakeholders are a good omen, indeed talks are the only option, as ill-counselled military ‘surges’ have come and gone without concrete and meaningful results.
Pakistan has enough on its plate militarily on the eastern border where an implacable foe is ratcheting up tensions on the LOC and Working Boundary and issuing grave threats, economically because of its debt-ridden and poorly-performing economy, and politically as it faces a crucial national election this year and is going through a maddeningly uncertain internal situation. The so-called Afghan National Unity government too is riven with dissentions, it is neither national, with its writ being confined to Kabul, and that too precariously, nor united, while its army, overall, remains a constant source of concern as regards professionalism and morale. So, whatever the American sole superpower’s hedging, hidden agenda or ulterior motive (Pakistan’s nuclear-missile programmes, ‘grey listing’) for dragging on the overlong Afghan impasse with no end in sight, Pakistan and hopefully Afghanistan appear determined, indeed desperate, to bilaterally establish a basic framework leading to a compromise solution and an honourable peace, with the possible input of friendly ‘guarantor’ countries. Though the high-level meetings of Pak-Afghan Joint Working Group held in Kabul on February 3 and Islamabad on February 10 made only guarded progress, the intention and right-mindedness are there, and these small steps can lead to a quantum jump towards lasting regional peace and prosperity. Continued talks, cooperation and solidarity, and not the old petulant blame game, will win through.