Afghan fac­tor in Pak-US ties

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Dr Muham­mad Khan Email: drmk_edu@ya­

DE­SPITE a de­ter­mined and hec­tic ef­fort of Pak­istan, peace and sta­bil­ity is still not in­sight in Afghanistan. Even to­day, over 50% area of Afghanistan is un­der the in­flu­ence of Tal­iban, who are run­ning their par­al­lel gov­ern­ment with their own ju­di­cial and leg­isla­tive sys­tem. Over the years, the Afghan Gov­ern­ment has not been able to con­trol the Tal­iban, de­spite main­tain­ing over 350,000 Afghan Na­tional Se­cu­rity Forces (ANSF). This is irony that, this huge num­ber of ANSF still needs re­in­force­ment of US forces, once at­tacked by Tal­iban. This is a clear in­di­ca­tion that, there is a de­fec­tor rule of Tal­iban over the trou­bled land of this coun­try ex­cept Kabul and few sur­round­ing ar­eas.

Un­for­tu­nately, Afghanistan has been a trou­bled neigh­bour for Pak­istan right from the in­cep­tion of later as in­de­pen­dent state in 1947. The post Soviet sce­nario (1980s) and par­tic­u­larly, the in­ci­dent of 9/11 has in­creased the US stakes in Afghanistan. Pak­istan was a front­line state, fight­ing Soviet in­va­sion in 1980s and it again acted as front­line run­ner in the cur­rent phase, the US in­va­sion of its neigh­bour­hood. The out­comes of both phases of for­eign in­va­sions have been the same for Pak­istan. Both for­eign in­va­sions brought in­sta­bil­ity in Pak­istan, in­creased in­flux of Afghan refugees and above all, added ac­cu­sa­tions against Pak­istan.

In to­day’s Pak-US re­la­tion­ship, the Afghan fac­tor seems more prom­i­nent and dom­i­nant. United States has its strate­gic ob­jec­tives, be­ing taken care of with its pres­ence in Afghanistan. For its long-term stay in Afghanistan, it needs pre­text in the form of in­sta­bil­ity in that coun­try with a fa­vor­able regime there. The US con­tention runs counter to the Pak­istani nar­ra­tive, which de­sires peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan. In fact, the peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan is a pre-req­ui­site for peace and sta­bil­ity in Pak­istan, which faces in­ter­nal in­sta­bil­ity ever since US in­va­sion of Afghanistan in 2001.

In the process, the US in­ter­ests con­verged with the In­dian in­ter­ests in Afghanistan. In­dia has been in­stru­men­tal in the pro­mo­tion of odd re­la­tion­ship be­tween Pak­istan and Afghanistan since decades and its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the su­per power pro­vided it an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther sin­gle out the Pak­istan. There has been con­ver­gence of US and In­dian in­ter­ests in Afghanistan af­ter 2001 and both have been col­lab­o­rat­ing against Pak­istan through the pro­mo­tion of mil­i­tancy in neigh­bour­ing FATA re­gion and Balochis­tan Prov­ince of Pak­istan. The In­dian agenda of pro­mot­ing trust deficit be­tween Pak­istan and Afghanistan has worked well in the post 2001 sce­nario.

In the garb of Afghan re­con­struc­tion, In­dian spy­ing net­work made in­roads into the Afghan so­ci­ety and cre­ated a hate against Pak­istan. This is de­spite the fact that, Pak­istan has hosted over 4 mil­lion Afghan refugees over the decades and pro­vided them all ed­u­ca­tional and med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties at par with the Pak­istani Cit­i­zens. Pak­istan also pro­vided all out lo­gis­tic as­sis­tance to Afghan masses and gov­ern­ment. In­dian in­vest­ment of $2 bil­lion for its strate­gic ob­jec­tives in Afghanistan can­not un­der­mine the ser­vices, Pak­istan pro­vided to Afghanistan for decades now.

De­spite Poor Pak­istani econ­omy, it has pro­vides, over $385 Mil­lion for the de­vel­op­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and in­fra­struc­ture build­ing in Afghanistan. The cur­rent Gov­ern­ment has fur­ther pro­vided $500 Mil­lion for the de­vel­op­ment in Afghanistan.

Pak­istan has funded dif­fer­ent ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in­side Afghanistan such as Al­lama Iqbal Fac­ulty of Art­sKabul Univer­sity, Sir Syed Post Grad­u­ate Fac­ulty of SciencesNan­garhar Univer­sity, Li­aqat Ali Khan Engi­neer­ing Univer­sity- Bulkh, Rah­man Baba School- Kabul and Rah­man Baba Hos­tel- Kabul. Pak­istan has helped Afghan gov­ern­ment in de­vel­op­men­tal projects and roads in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing build­ing of 75 kilo­me­ters Torkham-Jalal­abad Road, ad­di­tional car­riage­way on TorkhamJalal­abad Road, three in­ter­nal roads in Jalal­abad, digital ra­dio link be­tween Kabul and Peshawar. In ad­di­tion, Pak­istan has also given around 100 pub­lic trans­port buses and 200 trucks to the gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan for the wel­fare of Afghan pub­lic. Nev­er­the­less, there is no ac­knowl­edge­ment of all these Pak­istani sac­ri­fices and as­sis­tance by suc­ces­sive Afghan gov­ern­ments.

In the bi­lat­eral Pak-US re­la­tion­ship, the Afghan fac­tor has at­tained the cen­tral role. Pak­istan was able to bring the Afghan Tal­iban on the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble in July 2015 in Mur­ree. It was NDS and Afghan Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah, who sab­o­taged the process by declar­ing the death of Mul­lah Omar. In­deed, Pak­istan knew that, but wanted the suc­cess of re-con­cil­i­a­tion process with­out di­vi­sion among the Tal­iban fac­tions. Mul­lah Akhtar Man­soor was the man at the helm of af­fairs for that round of peace talk. Killing of Mul­lah Akhtar Man­soor by US through a drone strike on May 21, 2016 was a ma­jor blow to the peace process in Afghanistan. It was only three days af­ter the suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion of the 5th Quadri­lat­eral Co­op­er­a­tion Group meet­ing in Is­lam­abad. This killing and sub­se­quent US dis­crim­i­na­tory ac­tions against Pak­istan in col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­dia seems, ini­ti­a­tion of a new turn in Pak-US bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. Apart from the Kabul, New Delhi seems a new an­gle of Pak-US re­la­tion­ship.

De­spite the suc­cess of Pak­istan in Op­er­a­tion Zarb-i-Azb, where it in­dis­crim­i­nately acted against all ter­ror­ist groups, US de­mand that, Pak­istan need to take ac­tion against Haqqani Net­work is mis­placed and un­for­tu­nate. This in­deed is to cover up the ac­tions of RAW backed NDS, which is har­bour­ing ter­ror­ism in Pak­istan through TTP el­e­ments, taken refuge in Ku­nar and Nuris­tan prov­inces of Afghanistan. It is very strange, that, NDS rather se­cur­ing its own coun­try, pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ism in Pak­istan on be­hest of RAW.

The vis­it­ing US of­fi­cials; Spe­cial US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Afghanistan and Pak­istan, Amb. Richard Ol­son and Se­nior Ad­viser and Di­rec­tor for South Asian Af­fairs at the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Dr Peter Lavoy have been told in clear word­ing by Pak­istan that, “Pak­istan would no longer tol­er­ate drone strikes on its soil” and any such ac­tion will jeop­ar­dise the Pak-US bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. It is worth men­tion­ing that, both civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship were cat­e­gor­i­cal in this re­gard. It is about time that, Pak­istan has to act boldly and stop get­ting dic­ta­tion from Wash­ing­ton. Kabul and New Delhi also need to be told in clear terms that, they should stop ac­cu­sa­tions against Pak­istan and stop har­bour­ing ter­ror­ism in­side Pak­istan through their spy­ing net­works. — The writer is In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions an­a­lyst based in Is­lam­abad.

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