When it comes to Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to be a COUNTERPUNCHER!
Naturally neighboring states tend to be more docile rather than indulging in unnecessary hostility at each other. However, both Kabul and Islamabad are eyeing opportunities to engage in a blame game standoff, when a partnership and diplomatic dialogue is more likely to solve any outstanding issue between the two neighbors. Pakistan from the very beginning, aimed at prolonging the Afghan war, expecting to halt the Afghan forces’ rapid growth, and igniting ethnic tensions among Afghans, weakening any independent government in Kabul to eventually bow down to its illicit demands.
Obviously Pakistan as a nuclear state, with an even larger population, and comparatively stable economy, has failed to prove itself as a viable partner on curbing the common threat of extremism, threatening the very survival of both societies. So often the policy makers within the security establishment in Pakistan have exploited extremism, using it as a destructive policy to bolster its delusional strategic depth approach on Afghanistan, this hegemonic thinking is frequently adhering to intimidation and aggressive provocation along the Durand Line. No doubt, the repercussions are no longer confined to Afghanistan, Pakistan falling as an even larger victim to the doze of its own medicine.
Historically, since the withdrawal of the Soviet forces, Pakistan follows a devastating method of kill by a thousand cuts as a policy tool at least towards a weaker neighbor, Afghanistan. They have an upper hand, when it comes to striking any Afghan city including Kabul, at mere fractions of seconds. They are heavily invested in Afghanistan through paid mercenaries and ISI infected moles in the Afghan security forces, in addition to, buying out Afghan politicians with incentives and clandestine payouts.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, still struggles in defining its long-term strategy in countering this deadly combination, the Afghan state lacks the tendency and right institutions to keep a tab on infiltrators and sold out politicians. Almost all top positions in any Afghan financial institution are handled by Pakistani nationals, who are easily gaining access to sensitive data, thus jeopardizing the already shaken Afghan economy and political stability. These individuals are acting as a liaison on behalf of the ISI. ,unfortunately, the Afghan state has failed to put a dynamic vetting system in place when it comes to monitoring Pakistani nationals’ activities within its domain; a successful model that can be easily replicated is the Indian government travel restrictions on Pakistani nationals.
Diplomatically Afghanistan has done its part, both the prevailing and the preceding leaders adamantly reached out to Pakistan’s military, to discuss terror as the single most dangerous threat to a sustaining peace in both countries, but to no avail. At one occasion when the Afghan intelligence bureau presented undeniable facts, linking Pak harbored terrorists involved in destabilizing Afghanistan to the former Pakistani president, Musharaf, he countered with blatant denial and utter negligence, angrily saying “Pakistan is not a banana republic unaware of what is happening in its own soil”. Clearly, this naive perception of labeling extremism as good and bad, is posing Islamabad to a rapidly growing menace of homegrown terror, targeting its civil and military cores equally. Last year’s deadly attack on its army outposts and a local school in Peshawar, are adhering facts to this rational hypothesis. Sarcastically, post any terror acts in its soil, Pakistan in retaliation, desperately point finger to Kabul for not targeting anti-Pakistan elements having so – called sanctuaries within Afghanistan, which is totally false and beyond reality.
IT IS ABOUT ITME, Islamabad should realize that Afghanistan does not respond well to coercion and economic blockade, but to mutual respect and equal partnership. If they constantly insist in pursuing their apparent policy of providing sanctuaries to radicals and rogue elements to that of the Afghan state, certainly it has not yielded any visible outcome in stabilizing Pakistan. Bear in mind that the 80’s slogan of the AFGHAN JIHAD equals THE DEFENSE OF PAKISTAN is long gone. In spite of all the challenges, Afghanistan has a robust civil society, unified armed forces as well as; an equally enthusiastic and driven young generation, who believe in peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, also acquainted with the art of counterpunching.
The question that arises is, could pragmatic diplomacy work with Pakistan?
A retrospect to the past events, former president Karzai gave diplomacy a full chance, but if your counterpart is undermining your sincere efforts, and collaborates with its proxies to discredit your sovereignty, as well as; slaughters your citizens on daily basis, you respond with a counterpunch, and start talking tough. Simultaneously, when president Ghani broke all diplomatic protocols to meet with the Pakistani generals in GHQ, he meant to amend relations and discuss all core issues including Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan; the generals took him with a grain of salt, not knowing president Ghani is no Karzai.
Every coin has two sides, Just like the American eagle carries both flowers and arrows, Afghanistan has to start learning the art of counterpunching besides diplomacy, at least, in regards to Pakistan’s increasing aggression and humiliation of its citizens. Sadly, our citizens with valid visas and travel arrangements get beaten up and locked up in jails within Pakistan, while Pakistanis roam around freely across our country.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I am glad president Ghani is taking a step at the right direction, vocally exposing Pakistan’s double game and brutality against innocent Afghan refugees and constant cross border shelling.
Freelancer, Washington, U.S.