Cooperation with Kabul

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Actions will speak

The army chief’s visits to Kabul are proving quite fruitful. Hopefully the goodwill will continue when both sides will have to take visible steps to help the either. President Ghani’s government has been forthcoming so far – sweeping border regions after Peshawar – and the word is that the noose is tightening around Fazlullah. But another interesting, and important, announcement came out of the presidential palace in Kabul after Gen Sharif left. “The Afghan government hopes that Pakistani pledges and steps will yield positive results”, adding that, “…their commitments have raised hopes that results will be clear within weeks”.

Ghani’s cooperation, especially post-Peshawar, has no doubt been a welcome departure from Karzai’s days. Yet, according to reports, every time Gen Sharif presented the Afghans a dossier – regarding TTP using their soil – they would show many more in turn. And with Gen Musharraf recently revealing, to the British press, that Pakistan did indeed use the Afghan Taliban to sideline Kabul – considering Karzai’s outreach to India – Pakistan must now be seen helping the Afghans as well. What they want from us is pretty much what we want from them. Both will now have to rollback intelligence support and sanctuary for the other’s insurgency, and hand over any prisoners wanted by the other. Pakistan’s request to extradite six APS suspects must be the first of such exchanges.

There was obviously thorough deliberation behind recent Washington-Kabul-Islamabad cooperation. Each side finally realised the sensitivity of the moment, and how being at cross purposes was only strengthening the mutual enemy. It is, therefore, in the interest of all parties concerned to play the facilitator’s role for each other. The Americans need a clean chit for their drawdown. Afghanistan needs closure after decades of war. And Pakistan, with its security situation worsening quickly, needs to keep the state from collapsing. Indeed, Zarb-e-Azb will not come full circle without extending help to Afghanistan. But now, actions will have to speak louder than words.