Pakistan and Afghanistan


Ali Imran Atta

In August 1947, the bifurcation of British India led to the birth of Pakistan along Afghanistan’s eastern edge, and the two nations have since had an abhorrent nexus.
Regarding the challenges and issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the term “bilateral contact” does not do justice. This connection has grown more intricate over time and now affects crucial facets of Pakistan’s international and national security. Pakistan is not the only neighbouring country to feel the regional security effects of Afghanistan’s internal instability. Western nations have used this crisis to advance their regional agendas and to criticise Islamabad policymakers.
We cannot believe that Kabul has achieved world-class diplomatic, trade, or political credibility. Afghanistan is quite a distance away. Negative regional and international effects have resulted from the long-running internal struggle that began in the early 1980s and the Pentagon involvement in Afghan territory, which took on varied ways in the 1980s and the years after the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001. With all this going on, it is challenging for Pakistan to manage the situation in Afghanistan.
The Afghan crisis should be considered a bilateral-cum-multilateral issue, as terrorism, stability, and peace issues cannot be resolved solely at the Pak-Afghan level.
US officials are reluctant to discuss the country’s 1980s involvement in fomenting Islamic extremism in the Pak-Afghan territory to drive out Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The United States aims to keep a small number of troops in Afghanistan indefinitely and expects Pakistan to help it with its counterterrorism efforts. The United States now evaluates Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts based on their usefulness in defeating the Afghan Taliban and its supporters. Pakistan’s concerns about Afghanistan’s unstable situation and its inability to take military intervention against the Afghan Taliban who come to Pakistan are largely ignored. About three million Afghan refugees, both documented and undocumented, and the local Pashtun population overlap with the Afghan Taliban. Similarly, the United States does not help Pakistan or encourage Afghanistan to help Pakistan in its efforts to increase security along the Pak-Afghan border to prevent the illegal entry and exit of individuals and fighters. Pakistani Taliban and their Pakistani supporters have established themselves in three Afghan districts bordering Pakistan, and neither the United States nor Afghanistan seems to care.
Through consistent communication that addresses the security concerns of all parties, Pakistan, the United States, and Afghanistan may develop a cooperative strategy to combat terrorism across Afghanistan. We cannot help, though, if the United States publicly condemns Pakistan or makes pronouncements about how long Pakistan has to act against the terrorist elements recognized by the United States.
Since the United States has such a bad outlook on Pakistan, it is no surprise that the administration in Kabul shares this view. The Afghan government and American forces stationed in Afghanistan blame Pakistan for the Taliban’s continued existence. Likewise, India is urging Afghanistan to take a hard line with Pakistan.
To find a regional settlement to the Afghan situation, China and Russia are now consulting with other regional states on a bilateral and multilateral basis. While their efforts have yielded no tangible results, Pakistan and the rest of the region are extremely interested in China and Russia’s pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the Afghan settlement.
Pakistan will need to bolster its multilateral diplomacy with a focus on winning the confidence of as many states as possible that are directly involved in the Afghan problem. Various states display a profound interest in Afghanistan and play their ‘games’ concerning the Afghan imbroglio. It is time to get past the tired argument that Pakistan lost more money fighting terrorism than it gained in aid and loans. Pakistan’s leaders should stop trumpeting the country’s achievements in Afghanistan and pay more attention to the realities of international politics. Even if the criticisms of other states against Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy are unfounded, they must make a determined effort to address them. This needs to be accompanied by a clear and compelling portrayal of Pakistan’s worries about the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the problem of unrestrained movement in both directions over the border. To further illustrate to the global community that New Delhi’s aggressive stance towards Islamabad is problematic, consider that it slows down Pakistan’s efforts to govern the tribal areas and the frontier with Afghanistan.
Pakistan needs new multilateral diplomatic efforts that take into account the intricacies of the Afghan problem and the varied interests of different states with an unequivocal view of what is feasible on long and short-term bases rather than issuing controversial statements to counter American, Afghan, and Indian presumptions on internal strife and terrorism in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s foreign policy is facing a tough challenge. The ostracized regime in Afghanistan with an impending impasse over the TTP negotiations has jolted Islamabad’s high hopes and expectations. If the regime remained a controversial story, Islamabad would also have to bear the western onslaught, imposed by the American supervisory. It is high time that Islamabad plays a binding role between Afghanistan and the international community. For that to happen, it needs to resolve its own deadlock with the clergy establishment of the Taliban.