PAK-AFGHAN STRENTHENING RELATIONS

ALI SUKHANVER

 

ALI SUKHANVERIn a move intended to mend shattering and tattering ties with the Unites States, the newly-elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and US Ambassador James Cunningham, signed the Bilateral Security Agreement known as ‘BSA’ this year on 30th September at the presidential palace in Kabul. The deal allows the US to leave a small contingent of troops in the country beyond this year, when a NATO-led combat mission ends.  As a result of this agreement troops from Germany, Italy and other NATO members will join a force of some 9,800 US soldiers, bringing numbers up to about 12,500. The US authorities had been asking Mr. Hamid Karzai to sign the same type of agreement in the last days of his tenure as the President of Afghanistan but he refused to do so by saying that the US had become a cause of conflict in Afghanistan, rather than a provider of stability.

According to the sources the US-Afghanistan relationship had deteriorated significantly during President Karzai’s second term and his refusal to sign the BSA was only part of that deterioration. Scott Smith, the Director of United States Institute of Peace, said in an interview that signing the BSA is essentially the minimum condition for a future strategic partnership, which includes significant financial support from the US to Afghanistan. By doing so, the new government has reinforced its investment in this partnership. In short President Ashraf Ghani is also following the same policy President Karzai had been following in the days when he was playing as a puppet in the hands of his American masters. Apparently, at present, the Afghan Unity Government under the command of President Ashraf Ghani has started looking after the affairs of state but the previous administration is still in power. The scenario is not going to change as rapidly as it was being expected before Ashraf Ghani’s coming to power. President Ashraf Ghani is a man of very positive traits and no doubt has a very clear inclination towards Pakistan but the team he is compelled to work with is the team having a clear tilt towards India. And this team would never let him assign a vibrant role to Pakistan for the future development and stability in Afghanistan. Moreover it would be next to impossible for the US to say good-bye to the Afghan land forever and let the people of Afghanistan settle their matters by themselves. Till the interference of US and India in Afghanistan is not minimized rather ended, the situation of Afghanistan could not change. The US has wasted so many years in trying to make Afghanistan its eternal colony sometimes by assigning different roles to India and sometimes by trying to keep Pakistan away from the Afghan affairs but the situation in Afghanistan always remained the same. The Taliban are in no case ready to accept US or Indian interference in Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani knows it very well that it is only Pakistan which could be acceptable to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan is the only external force which could be helpful and supportive in making the things better in Afghanistan. That is the reason in the last few months various high-ranked Pakistani political and military officials visited Afghanistan on the invitation of President Ashraf Ghani. These hi-ups included Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, the Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif and the newly appointed ISI Chief Lt. General Rizwan Akhtar. All these officials met their counterparts in Afghanistan and discussed security-related issues, war against insurgency and relations between both countries during their visits. The only purpose of these visits was to assure Afghanistan’s new leadership that Pakistan is always desirous of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. The army chief, during his recent visit to Kabul, offered training to Afghan security officials. Afghan sources say joint military exercises have also been proposed. But at the same time when Pakistan was trying to improve its bilateral relations with new Afghan government, the US Department of Defense released a report which accused Pakistan of using militant groups as ‘proxy forces’ to carry out attacks in Afghanistan. The Report said, ‘Terrorists operate against India and Afghanistan from sanctuaries located inside Pakistan.’ This report was later on sent to the US Congress under the title ‘Progress towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan.’ God knows better what were the aims and objectives behind preparation of such a baseless and misleading report but it is quite obvious that such misleading reports would simply mar the peace process in Afghanistan.

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