Pak-Afghan Stability is Inter-related
Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on April 24, this year in Brussels in a meeting hosted by the US Secretary of State John Kerry aimed at easing tensions over border disputes and the stalled peace process.
Recently, tension arose between Pakistan and Afghanistan when Kabul blamed Islamabad for mortar attacks and construction of security wall inside Afghanistan including deployment of Pakistani soldiers across the Pak-Afghan border.
On the other side, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Office and Army Spokesman Maj-Gen. Asim Bajwa strongly rejected Afghan allegations regarding any intrusion near the Pak-Afghan border.
Reliable sources suggest that Kerry failed to bridge the differences between Islamabad and Kabul. Pakistan has always cooperated with Afghanistan for peace and stability, but the repeated rhetoric of Karzai accusing Islamabad of facilitating the extremist elements has been vitiating the atmosphere.
In fact, Karzai’s accusations are not new ones because he has always followed the US blame game against Pakistan. While ignoring the responsibilities of the US-led NATO countries, in the past few years, especially US civil and military high officials have repeatedly been emphasising Pakistan to ‘do more’ against the militancy in the tribal regions in order to stop cross-border infiltration in Afghanistan.
In this regard, the then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta allegedly said on June 7, last year that the US was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan due to safe havens, “the country offered to insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.”
Having failed in coping with the Afghan Taliban and to pacify their public, particularly, US has shifted the blame game towards Pakistan for incursion of militants in Afghanistan. In fact, Afghanistan is responsible for cross-border terrorism in Pakistan.
Since April, 2011, some 200 to 400 heavily-armed insurgents from Afghanistan’s side entered Pakistan’s region from time to time, targeting the security check posts and other infrastructure. They also killed many innocent people. Notably, on August 27, 2012, some 300 militants attacked seven paramilitary check posts in Pakistan’s district of Chitral, killing more than 30 personnel of the security forces. Besides, around 400 Taliban militants who came from Afghanistan side attacked two security posts outside Peshawar on December 27, 2012. They killed 2 soldiers and kidnapped 22 Levies personnel whose dumped bodies were found. On June 24, more than 400 hundred militants, entered Pakistan’s region of Dir, and attacked two check posts of the security forces, while bloody clashes between the intruders and Pak Army continued for two days, which resulted in martyrdom of 12 Pakistani troops, beheaded by the Afghan miscreants. So far, these terrorists have killed more than 100 personnel of Pakistan’s security forces.
In this respect, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership lodged a strong protest with their counterparts in Afghanistan and NATO, saying that their forces were doing nothing to check the activities of the insurgents, based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. Afghan government also refused to hand over Maulvi Fazlullah, leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants who have been conducting subversive acts in Pakistan. TTP has also accelerated terror-attacks to sabotage the forthcoming elections in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in his meetings with the then US commander General John Allen on June 27, 2012 and with the new NATO/ISAF commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph F Dunford on April 1, this year, Gen. Kayani asked them to stop cross-border incursions from Afghanistan.
The way the Afghan militants are challenging a highly professional Pak Army by cross- border attacks is enough to prove that US with the assistance of secret agencies such as American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have well-established their collective network in Afghanistan is fully backing these incursions to destabilise Pakistan.
For the purpose, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities from where these external secret agencies are also sending logistic support to Baloch separatist elements to dismember Pakistan in order to obtain the secret strategic designs of the US, India and Israel against China and Iran. Besides martyring several personnel of security agencies in Balochistan, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and massacred many innocent people who include teachers, professors, lawyers, Shias etc.
Notably, in the recent years, a series of international conferences were held so as to bring stability and peace in Afghanistan before the foreign troops commence withdrawal from that country in 2013, which would be completed in 2014. NATO has started moving its equipment via Pakistani route. US-led developed nations also pledged billions of dollars for the development of Afghanistan.
While, American top officials have repeatedly agreed that without the help of Islamabad, stability cannot be achieved in Afghanistan. Pakistan has also been facilitating US-backed dialogue with the Afghan Taliban, which has now been suspended.
With the cooperation of President Karzai and Afghan secret agency Khad, and by manipulating US faulty strategy and double game with Islamabad, while availing the opportunity of lawlessness in Afghanistan, especially RAW has been implementing a plot to fulfill Indian strategic designs against Iran, China and particularly Pakistan. In this regard, Pakistan’s inauguration of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project with Iran, and handing over the control of Gwader seaport to China have irked the eyes of US and India.
However, India which has already invested billion of dollars in Afghanistan, signed a wide-ranging strategic agreement with that country on October 5, 2011 also includes to help train Afghan security forces, while assisting Kabul in diversified projects. Overtly, it is open strategic agreement, but covertly, India seeks to further strengthen its grip in Afghanistan to get strategic depth against Islamabad.
Regarding Indian activities in Afghanistan the then NATO commander, Gen. McChrystal had pointed out: “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan…is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.” In the recent past, US Senator John McCain reminded the Obama administration that encouraging India to take a more active role in Afghanistan, while simultaneously criticising Pakistan could be a recipe for disaster.
As a matter of fact, India wants instability in Afghanistan, which favours its clandestine aims against Pakistan. But Pakistan seeks stability in Afghanistan, which is not possible owing to Indian presence there. Hence, Pakistan has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, in the post-2014 scenario, despite the presence of American troops on small scale, New Delhi which has been assisting the Northern Alliance against the Afghan militants will not be in a position to maintain its network due to
successful guerrilla warfare of the Taliban. Afghanistan will be thrown in an era of uncertainty and civil war. In that drastic situation, foreign donors will not be able to sustain their economic aid in that lawless country.
So, by showing realistic approach, US and other western countries should realise that unlike India, Pakistan shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with Afghanistan, while Pak-Afghan stability is inter-related, which is essential for their global and regional interests. Especially, America must abandon its faulty strategy in this region and double game with Islamabad, and must check Indian secret strategy against Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations