A Joint Strug­gle

Enterprise - - Letters -

If there is one thing that is cer­tain about an un­cer­tain sit­u­a­tion, it is that ter­ror­ism can­not be de­feated in the re­gion un­til Pak­istan and Afghanistan work to­gether to counter it. The na­ture of the rugged, moun­tain­ous bor­der be­tween the two coun­tries makes it pos­si­ble for them to move back and forth across it de­spite Pak­istan’s ef­forts to fence this fron­tier amid mul­ti­ple skir­mishes last year. We now have news that a for­mal agree­ment may have been reached for Kabul and Is­lam­abad to jointly counter ter­ror­ism. Speak­ing to a news agency in Kabul, Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani has said that there had been a for­mal agree­ment whereby Pak­istan and Afghanistan would co­op­er­ate against ter­ror­ists and that this co­op­er­a­tion could also help solve the is­sue of the Tal­iban. The Afghan govern­ment is cur­rently locked in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Afghan Tal­iban – which, it has been sug­gested, has the sup­port of Pak­istan. Pak­istan could then be crit­i­cal to the peace talks. If there is any sub­stance to this news, the Afghan pres­i­dent in­di­cated that a writ­ten agree­ment had been reached. He did not, how­ever, pro­vide any de­tails.

The Afghanistan-Pak­istan Ac­tion Plan for Peace and Sol­i­dar­ity, which was agreed in May, lays down a clause that sug­gests work­ing groups would be es­tab­lished to fa­cil­i­tate co­op­er­a­tion against mil­i­tancy be­tween both coun­tries. The agree­ment that Ghani re­ferred to is pos­si­bly a part of this broader plan, which also fo­cuses on the is­sue of Afghan refugees, and prom­ises to deal with fugi­tives and avoid pub­lic tar­get­ing of each other. Is­lam­abad has so far said noth­ing about any for­mal deal with Afghanistan on ter­ror­ism. We hope that it will come for­ward with more de­tails soon. Given the hos­til­ity that has marred re­la­tions be­tween Pak­istan and Afghanistan for many months, this deal could be cen­tral to de­vel­op­ing a more co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ship on Pak­istan’s western bor­der and build­ing on it to de­velop the joint ac­tion that is ur­gently needed if there is to be any suc­cess in deal­ing with the mil­i­tancy and ter­ror­ism that af­fects the en­tire re­gion. Pak­istan and Afghanistan have both suf­fered eco­nom­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally, and has in­curred hu­man losses as a re­sult of ter­ror­ism. The num­ber of peo­ple killed in these coun­tries ex­ceeds those who have died in the West by thou­sands. It, there­fore, makes sense for both coun­tries to put aside their mis­un­der­stand­ings refuse to al­low any third party to ex­ac­er­bate them, and in­stead work to­gether to tackle and even­tu­ally elim­i­nate a prob­lem that presents an ex­is­ten­tial threat to both na­tions. Syed Saleem Ali,


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