Afghan Taliban’s willingness to resume dialogue for a political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan has come as a welcome relief for Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also said that his government has renewed efforts for restarting the Afghan dialogue. In this context the Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif will travel to Afghanistan in the coming days for talks with the Afghan government on modalities for resumption of the reconciliation process. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan continue to blow hot and cold however due to reignited border disputes, counter terrorism differences and exchange of allegations they have reached rock bottom. The unfulfilled expectations of both sides remain the root of tensions between the two countries.
In the last visit of Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan he assured that Afghanistan will extend all possible cooperation to jointly curb the menace of terrorism. The outcome of the visit has mellowed the deep distrust and antagonism of both sides to a cautious desire for cooperation as both the countries realize that their cordial relationship is of great importance for regional stability. During President Ghani’s visit to Pakistan, the two countries agreed to end the blame game and restart the reconciliation process from where it had been suspended in July following the disclosure of Mullah Omar’s death. The resumed process would function under a new quadrilateral framework also involving China and US, which in the earlier version acted as observers. However, the peaceful transition to the unity government in Afghanistan after the elections has provided the two countries an opportunity to move forward leaving the legacy of mutual distrust behind and now Afghan Taliban’s willingness to resume dialogues has opened a new chapter. A statement issued by the militant group said, “To end fighting, we are ready to initiate meaningful negotiations with all sides concerned”. The significance of cordial relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan for regional stability is in contestable. Pakistan has time and again emphasized that the solution does not lie in blame game; rather it lies in the cooperation. The realities and intricacies of the geo political, economic and other interests which necessitate the cordial bilateral relations has not been realized by Afghanistan despite Pakistan’s sincere commitment and effort.
Establishing cordial relations between the two countries can contribute a lot in making the region prosperous besides defeating and removing many ills being faced by the people. However evil forces desire to witness Pak – Afghan region as battle ground for waging the containment wars in Afghanistan by adopting puzzling strategies. Additionally, progress in the right direction could be jeopardized by foreign powers if leadership of both the countries do not show their resolve for peace. Role of any such internal/external elements has to be curtailed to foil their short and long term vested interests.
The destiny of Afghanistan to prosperity is linked with Pakistan. Both the countries need each other’s help for waging successful campaign against their common foes. Afghanistan can also seek support of Pakistan in its reconstruction plans. On the other hand, owing to the pressing energy needs, Pakistan needs Afghanistan in many ways. Both the countries should realize that cooperation between them would bring peace and prosperity in the region. Pakistan also needs Afghanistan’s strategic support to neutralize growing Indian terrorist activities undertaken from her giant diplomatic set ups in Afghanistan. Mutual collaboration will also become handy in checking cross-border infiltrations aimed at damaging development and infrastructure in the two provinces of Pakistan sharing border with Afghanistan.Both the countries can also jointly fight the menace of drug trafficking adversely affecting both the countries.
Pakistan’s strategy for resumption of Afghan peace talks and the Army Chief’s upcoming visit to Kabul was discussed extensively when PM Nawaz Sharif presided over a meeting attended by all the stakeholders. Gen Raheel Sharif was initially expected to visit Kabul before the heart of Asia conference meeting in Islamabad on Dec. 9 but tensions in the relationship pushed the visit to a further date. Final decisions regarding the quadrilateral meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and China are being made which includes a steering committee involving representatives of the four countries. As the countries wait for settlement of details, the timing and sequencing of the resumed reconciliation process, contacts with the militant groups are already under way for convincing them to join the talks. As expectations build up for the resumption of the stalled Afghan Peace Talks, the top military commanders from Pakistan and the United States discussed the peace process on Monday. The presidents of both the countries, the Chinese Foreign minister and US deputy Secretary of State after discussing the prospects of reviving the peace process jointly agreed that talks are the only viable option to end over a decades old conflict in Afghanistan.