President Ghani Ashraf has backtracked on his attempt to improve relations with Pakistan. He blasted Pakistan on Monday after a wave of insurgent attacks have shaken Kabul and killed at least 56 people and injured over 200 people. He insisted that suicide bomber training camps are as active as before in Pakistan.
Afghanistan is a state unable to cope with its internal upheaval. It seems it is much cleaner and easier to blame a foreign power for its troubles. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been highly successful in rooting out terrorists from the country. There were reports that many escaped into Afghanistan, but it is also true than many of these militants were also of Afghan origin and that militants have always found safe havens in Afghanistan. President Ghani seems to be ignoring a fundamental fact that Afghanistan shares a 2,250 km long border with Pakistan, making it a large stakeholder in its peace and prosperity. There is nothing to gain from alienating Pakistan.
Taliban were and have always been an Afghan entity and we have only suffered because of Afghanistan. From the Afghan War to the refugee crisis to the Second Afghan War- Afghanistan, as a state, has given us nothing but sleepless nights. No matter what the Pakistani prerogative was in the making or breaking of the Taliban, their stronghold and home has always been Afghanistan. If the Afghan government cannot protect its sovereignty, then the blame cannot lie with Pakistan. This is a matter of international diplomacy, and states, at the end, are their own protectors. Pakistan is never was, no currently is responsible for Afghani crises. Pakistan has looked beyond this and extended a helping hand to Afghanistan to solve their problems.
Just like Modi in India, Ghani has shaken our hand and then slapped it away. For what? His own image in the eyes of his opponents? Future votes? Indian promises? The Karzai Government had made their foreign policy clear by accepting $2 billion from India to rebuild its infrastructure post war, while cooperation at the strategic and security levels was and still is immense. After General Raheel Sharif, visited Kabul last month, Ghani announced that Pakistan was unconditionally ready to cooperate with Afghanistan in bringing the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table. This most certainly rang alarm bells in India, explaining Ghani’s shift in sentiment towards Pakistan.
This shift will be a step back for the Afghan Taliban Peace talks. It is imperative that Pakistan addresses this sensitive issue with caution, but with strength. Warring and hostile neighbours from both sides is the last thing a country with an ongoing operation of its own, needs right now. However, Pakistan has not initiated hostility, only friendship. Let’s hope our impetuous neighbours don’t lose sight of that.