Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Concerns as Kabul, Islamabad enter fresh talks

Originally published in Heart of Asia @ www.heartofasia.af - Pakistan has a long history of betrayal of commitments, especially in relations with Afghanistan. Not even rarely has Islamabad honored its promises with Kabul over almost last two decades. Not only has it not translated its words into actions, it has also acted against them. Whenever Islamabad has pledged to help Kabul in peace process, it has scuttled peace efforts; and likewise, whenever it has promised to act against Taliban, they have gained momentum and become stronger than before. Meanwhile, Pakistan built fencing topped with barbed wire on Durand Line on the pretext of preventing terrorist infiltration, but it led to a steep rise in violence in Afghanistan. Despite such a black history full of deception, Afghan government has once again resumed high-level talks with Pakistan. As part of the new round of dialogue under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), an Afghan delegation led by National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar visited Islamabad, where they also met the real powerhouse of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Jawed Bajwa, among other government officials. In a statement, the Pakistani army has said quoting Afghan NSA Atmar that Afghan side has high expectations of Pakistan, and that both sides together can assuage mutual concerns. Islamabad has not yet taken any step that can instill in Kabul hopes of success of the new negotiations. Neither has it been pressed enough to change its policy of supporting insurgents. Pakistan’s Afghan policy still seeks to back the militants and simultaneously maintain diplomatic relations with Kabul. Right now as the Kabul-Islamabad talks continue, Afghanistan is going through an unprecedented wave of violence. If Pakistani side were truly willing to make the fresh round of talks a success, it would at least stop the insurgents from intensifying attacks against Afghan government. As in the past, this time, too, Pakistan seems to be pursuing to buy time under the guise of peace talks to allow the Taliban to further push Afghan government to the verge of collapse. The best option for Afghan government is to link any further senior-level interaction with Pakistan to actions rather than words. A timetable should be set for implementation of commitments being made under the framework of bilateral dialogue. In case of Pakistan’s unwillingness or failure to honor the promises, the continuation of such negotiations is not only pointless but also puts the government off its war management.

Views expressed in this article are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Ivo Toniut