Pak-Afghan joint efforts
A Javed


Against the backdrop of the recent two raids on Pakistani check posts by large contingents of militants from Afghanistan, it was good to hear President Karzai say, at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Gilani on the concluding day of his visit to Islamabad, that his country would not let its territory be used for any attack on Pakistan.

“Such incidents are a reminder that things have gone beyond tolerance”, he observed, adding it was the duty of both the countries to take action and control radicalism. This assurance was much called for since there exists a strong perception here that the raids were deliberately engineered by the NATO forces to pressurise Islamabad to send troops into North Waziristan because the US believes the Agency is a terrorist stronghold from which the Taliban sally forth to attack American soldiers across the border. Nevertheless, the US occupation forces and Afghan government cannot avoid the blame, even if the raids were not carried out with their connivance. And if the attacks on Pakistani check posts were a reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden, the accusing finger would again point at the Pentagon. The two sides rightly agreed to a number of steps to check illegal border crossings. And a biometric system that would identify and keep a record of visitors would become functional within three weeks.

However, it was disconcerting to know that Mr Karzai was trying to request the US to maintain its military presence in Afghanistan even after 2014, the year when Washington has given out that it intends completing the pull out of its troops – the process that is due to begin this year. He should have taken a leaf from the book of COAS General Kayani, who told visiting Leon Panetta, the CIA chief tipped to become Secretary Defence soon, that the armed forces would not permit US “boots on the ground” in Pakistan. Mr Karzai should know that only the full withdrawal of foreign troops from his country can result in enduring peace, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to pave the way for progress and prosperity. Besides, foreign presence would not sit in with the fiercely independent Afghan temperament, and peace would continue to be disturbed.