Pakistanís role in Afghan peace
Mohammad Jamil


Despite the propaganda against Pakistan that it is ensconcing and supporting terrorists in FATA to destabilize Afghanistan, Pakistan has many time categorically stated that it wishes to see a strong, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. It is true that Pakistan cannot match resources of India in respect of aid to Afghanistan, yet it is helping in reconstruction of Afghanistan to the best of its capacity and ability. In fact, Pakistan is a victim of war against terrorism, and has made numerous sacrifices in the war on terror. Pakistanís Security Forces have been fighting the terrorists and have lost more than 3500 officers and jawans in addition to over 35000 civilian deaths. Pakistan, however, has been trying to identify and eliminate the root cause of terrorism. And Pakistan governmentís policy on terrorism is now recognized at global level and the US is also holding dialogue with Taliban. Pakistan has broken the back of the militant groups and terrorists, and arresting many Al Qaeda leaders and handing them over to the US is ample proof that Pakistan is sincere in bringing stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has offered to rekindle the stalled Afghan peace talks with the insurgents. The impression that Pakistan is reluctant to broker peace talks with Taliban is incorrect, as Pakistan made it possible for Afghan officials to have an access to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar - Talibanís former Second in Command. However, there are anti-Pakistan elements in the Afghan government who continue with the tirade of accusing Pakistan for sending infiltrators in Afghanistan. Aimal Faizi, a spokesman of President Hamid Karzai, has recently said, ďThe investigations confirmed infiltration by foreign spy agencies into Afghanistan.Ē While he declined to name the countries and agencies, but Pakistan and Iran are often accused of providing safe havens to insurgents inside the shared border. In fact, Afghan officials are trying to divert the attention from the terrorists and militants that are operating from Kunar and Nuristan and attacking Pakistani check posts and also villagers.

A trilateral meeting of the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK in Kabul was held in July 2012. Leaders from three countries reiterated the need for an Afghan-led solution to the conflict, with Pakistan playing a crucial role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf extended his cooperation to iron out the differences amongst warring factions for ultimate peace in Afghanistan, something that the US has been working on with little success so far. Underscoring the need to combat militant forces out to destroy both Afghanistan and Pakistan, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Pakistan and Afghanistan faced a common enemy, which called for a united front of all stakeholders opposed to terrorism.

Lately, Pakistan has been experiencing cross-border attacks from Afghan territory and a number of Pakistani soldiers were killed. The responsibility for these attacks was claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which had been driven out of Pakistan in the 2009 military operation and since then gathered strength and support by anti-Pakistan elements and forces in Afghanistan.

There are fears that once the US and NATO withdraw from the region, the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, may make a bid to regain power in Kabul. Though the US and NATO have attempted to allay these fears by ruling out a return of the Afghan Taliban to power, given the discordant history of Afghanistan, ruling out this scenario or a protracted civil war is not possible. After four decades of continuous warfare, and with neither side in a position to win a complete victory, the only way forward is a negotiated political solution. Pakistan too has lost thousands of its soldiers and civilians in a war that spilled over and has by now the whole country in its grip, an unintended consequence of having joined the jihad in early 1980s after Soviet forces had invaded Afghanistan, and then joining the war on terror after 9/11.

Anyhow, peace efforts and accusations go side by side. Pakistan has been accused of not wanting peace in Afghanistan and trying to support re-imposition of Taliban rule in Kabul by force. Time and again there have been allegations of Pakistanís involvement in shoring up the Haqqani network to carry out high profile attacks in Afghanistan. The question is why more than 100000 US and NATO forces, and around 250000 Afghan army and police have failed to rein in Taliban fighters and to take them head on while they cross the border, if at all they are operating from Pakistan. Anyhow, a political solution implies the Afghan Taliban being persuaded by Pakistan to join peace talks. In view of the fact that Pakistan had recognized the Taliban government, there is a perception that its leaders may listen to the voice of reason, provided their concerns are also addressed, and minority is not propped to rule the majority - Pashtuns. Needless to say, unless Afghanistan settles down and Pakistan benefits from such a peace dividend, both countries and the whole region will suffer in terms of development and progress.

The fact remains that Washington is looking forward to a negotiated political settlement of the Afghan imbroglio for many reasons, and is even talking of peace with Taliban and other insurgent groups. However, it is yet to be seen if parameters of settlement will go in accord with the ones set out by leaderships of Afghanistan and Pakistan, as America is an overbearing occupying power in Afghanistan, and has a soft corner for the Northern Alliance and its principal backer India. America has to understand that whatever semblance of success America achieved in Iraq it was by accepting the principal i.e. the right of the majority to rule there. If the US can work along similar lines, it can win the hearts and minds of people, the bitterness and the horrors of the long drawn out war notwithstanding. Historical evidence suggests that Pushtuns have either been rulers or king-makers throughout the history of Afghanistan. And any effort to make them play a second fiddle is bound to fail.