Afghan reaction


Islamabad should not get mired in a war of words

Afghanistan has obviously taken a dim view of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks about the need for an interim government in Kabul so as to achieve peace in that troubled country. Considering the strength of the reaction in Kabul, from government and opposition alike, the calling of Pakistan’s deputy ambassador to the Afghan Foreign Ministry was perhaps inevitable. Pakistan’s own explanation of the Prime Minister’s remarks, that he was referring to Pakistan’s own model of having an interim government hold elections, is probably worse. Not only does it reflect an ignorance of Afghanistan’s own constitutional arrangements, but it also shows an amazing insularity, for Pakistan is very much in a minority in having an interim-government mechanism– sitting governments normally remain in office for elections, leaving their conduct to independent dedicated bodies. However, Afghanistan is not objecting to the display of ignorance, but to the interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. The Afghan government did not take kindly to being called the main hurdle to the peace process.
The reaction does not just come from the Afghan government, but from the opposition, which indicates a belief that Pakistan thinks it has inherited the Raj’s mantle, of interference in Afghan affairs in the interest of the Great Game. The Great Game should have taught Pakistan that Afghans are very canny players, and strongly resent even the appearance of interference in their internal affairs. The Afghan government has already been rocked by Pakistan’s facilitation of the Taliban-USA talks, which have excluded it, because the Taliban refuse to talk to it. The Afghan government suspects Islamabad, which brought the Taliban to the table, of controlling them sufficiently to try and shut it out of the process.
It is perhaps only to be expected that the Afghan government will seek support from India, which is now using Afghan territory for its nefarious designs against Pakistan. It behoves Pakistan, particularly its leaders, to behave carefully, and particularly not to do India’s work for it. Mr Khan should realise that statements like the one he made do nothing to promote the goal of peace , and lead to the danger of getting mired in a war of words, which is the last thing needed at this juncture.