Removing trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the way to a progressive democratic Afghanistan
The newly formed unity government of Afghanistan under President Ashraf Ghani is yet to declare its internal and foreign policies formally. However, the new regime has some significant judgments about country’s relations with China and Pakistan. The priority policy objectives of the new government appear to make over Afghanistan from a failed state to a progressive democratic state focusing on the augmentation and intensification of Afghanistan’s role and relations in the affairs of the region in general and association with the neighbouring countries in particular in order to further strengthen the bilateral and multilateral dealings. Moreover, the national reconciliation process is also inevitable for the new government to attain its policy objectives.
The recent visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad may not have produced any vivid declaration, but it would definitely prove to become the beginning of a new era in Pak-Afghan relations. The accommodating and conciliatory views of President Ashraf Ghani towards Pakistan are all the more important factors in stabilising the ties of the two neighbouring countries. The wish to work together to enhance trade, exploit economic opportunities and address security issues through cooperation of both sides is a realisation of the fact that without peace and stability, the dream of national growth and prosperity will never come true. Pakistan and Afghanistan are bound by a historic relationship based on religious, ethnic, cultural and neighbouring ties. Therefore, it is more than necessary for them to work together.
For Afghanistan, the development of mutual trust and responsive consultation with the neighbouring countries is exceptionally crucial at the moment. The Pak-Afghan relations in the past were harmed by continuously blaming each other for cross-border infiltrations. Especially, in the tenure of President Hamid Karzai the relations never ran smoothly. But the recent visit of Afghan President has created a sense of hope and optimistic ambiance for future cooperation and mutually addressing the common challenges of security and economic development by both sides.
In the midst of security measures, President Ghani’s government is also stepping forward for the economic development of his country. The recent visits of Afghan leadership to Pakistan and China envision the political foresight as the drawdown of allied forces is getting closer that will categorically minimise the US role in Afghanistan. The new government gives high priorities to independently strengthen its relationship with neighbouring and regional countries.
The Afghans also want a new level of relations and cooperation with economic power China. Thanks to Karzai regime which laid the foundation of lasting friendship between Afghanistan and China. Ashraf Ghani has also called for setting up a security commission comprising China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. China also emphasises on the collective effort to curb the menace of terrorism, extremism and narcotics. China on its part is also showing a willingness to assist Pakistan and Afghanistan in defying the threats of terrorism, extremism and narcotic trafficking. The China-Afghanistan venture could bring immense economic strength and prosperity in Afghanistan, that’s why President Ashraf Ghani has inked $30 billion agreements during his visit to China.
The new regime in Afghanistan realises the fact that peace could not be restored in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s cooperation, that’s why President Ghani prefers improving ties with Pakistan instead of India. The security cooperation for the peaceful development on both sides is inevitable for Pakistan and Afghanistan. The lack of security cooperation and improper border management mechanism will never enable both countries to control the penetration of the militant groups. Therefore, militancy and terrorism will only nurture and create chaos and bitterness for both sides. The commotion of terrorism and militancy has had the darkest effects on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tackling terrorism as a common enemy is only way to guarantee the regional security.
Pakistan for its part has assured the Afghan leaders of security cooperation as the drawdown of NATO and ISAF forces is getting closer. Recently, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sahrif also offered to train the Afghan troops and provide an infantry brigade with latest military equipment. Pakistan had also offered training to Afghan security forces in 2010 and in 2013 respectively. The offer was designed to reduce the trust deficit between the two and as an initiative create confidence between the two states. In 2013, an Afghan defence delegation led by Defence Minister Bismillah Muhammad visited Pakistan for inspecting the Pakistani training facilities. The Afghan delegation’s visit was seen as a foremost paradigm shift in Afghanistan’s perceptions about Pakistan.
The leadership on both sides seriously needs to be concerned about the collective security efforts in their countries in the coming days, especially after the withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces from Afghanistan. For Pakistan, the operation in North Waziristan is underway, and another front of militancy and terrorism from the other side of the border will further engage its men and resources at large. However, security being a prime challenge to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the historic decisive moment is here.