South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

The bitter truth about Afghanistan
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat

he army chiefís recent statement in Munich that perpetual instability in Afghanistan has telling effects on the region focuses on an increasingly uncertain and complex strategic environment in South West Asia.

Speaking at the Asia Security Conference, which discussed regional peace and security, the Army Chief General Raheel Sharif was forthcoming on the past and recent developments in the region. He pointed out that the instability in the region had deeply affected the socio-economic climate in Pakistan. He added that for socio-economic development of Pakistan, it was essential to address the menace of extremism.
As it is, the Operation Zarb-e-Azb launched by the army with the support of the government and also the National Action Plan have greatly dented and curbed extremism in all its forms and manifestations throughout Pakistan. The mother of the regional Kharjis, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and its cohorts have been dealt a mortal blow and forced to flee to Afghanistan. The insurgents in Balochistan have been forced to retreat and those who decided not to surrender were eliminated. They were earlier given the choice to lay down their arms and come to the negotiating table. There is now peace in Karachi and trouble makers and criminals, besides extortionists and those corrupt to the core, have been mostly taken care of. The fourth group, the sectarian lobby and obscurantist fond of inciting uneducated youth against their own Muslim brothers and state security institutions, are on the run. Clearly, of the four groups the army and the government are dealing with, three are inextricably linked to Afghanistan. Who doesnít know that the TTP is being run by the Indians and the NDS from the neighbouring country? Who remains unaware of the fact that the BLA and BLF have bases in Afghanistan? Who could deny that the top sectarian groups of Pakistan have the manpower and support from across the western border? These are undeniable facts that the army chief hinted at in his Munich address.
Not only the abhorrent and despicable activities of these groups have had a major impact on the socio-economic developments in Pakistan, the burden of some three million Afghan refugees, who have had to flee due to continuous instability and wars in their country, is another major factor that has seriously affected the fabric of the Pakistani society.
Moreover, the army chief has reminded the world that practical steps are required to manage the Pak-Afghan border for gainful conclusion of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb. Unfortunately, the Afghan side has either not understood what was required from them at the border when the Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched or have willfully ignored Pakistanís repeated requests to do meaningful work in this regard. It is unfortunate that now they are blaming Pakistan for what the insurgents based in their own country are responsible of.
Essentially speaking, why blame Pakistan for the Taliban onslaught when you have been unable to raise an effective fighting force to counter them in some 13 years and then allowed the terrorists from Pakistan to assemble in your country.
As far as the COASí statement that a peaceful Afghanistan can open regional connectivity and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) benefits can be shared needs no elaboration.
Overall, the army chiefís Munich address clearly demonstrated the nationís commitment and strategic intent to peace and regional stability.
Meanwhile, it will do no good to India to foment trouble in Pakistan by supporting the anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan, a policy which is not eminently sensible. Current regional dynamics indicate that the fire in Afghanistan and state sponsored campaign of terror attacks in Pakistan could greatly hurt the Indian interests also.