Will Ashraf Ghani’s Visit Help Ease Tensions In Pak-Afghan Relations?
On 27th of June, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani paid his third visit to Pakistan. President Ghani’s visit at a time when both countries are blaming each other for their security issues will help ease the tensions to a great extent. President Ghani clearly expressed that Afghanistan aims to have friendly ties with Pakistan but Islamabad must ensure its support against terrorist elements. President Ghani’s support to peace talks with Taliban and open invitation for negotiation and release of arrested Taliban militants are wise steps to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.
Being a learned political economist, President Ghani wants to normalise security situation – the ultimate path to economic prosperity and political stability. His visit to Pakistan helped re-imagine Pak-Afghan ties. Pakistan also expressed its willingness to support Afghan government in easing tensions with the Taliban and ensuring sustainable peace, development and security in the war-torn country.
Ending foreign support to hostile elements, developing sustainable infrastructure, stabilising long-term economic growth, ensuring rule of law and prioritising diplomatic ties with regional and extra-regional states are foremost features of President Ghani’s policy. During his visit to Pakistan, he expressed Afghan government’s concerns about Pakistan’s role and significance for security in Afghanistan. Pakistan, along with China and Russia, possesses soft corner for those who have challenged and destabilised Afghanistan’s security and peace for years. And this is what President Ghani insists upon, that Pakistan should play its role in ending hostilities towards Afghan government.
Islamabad intends to support peace in Afghanistan in order to ensure regional security. Pakistan’s recent assistance to the US and other mediating states in bringing Taliban to the negotiation table for peace and stability is appreciable. For regional peace, security, political stability, economic prosperity and development, Islamabad must respect territorial sovereignty of Afghanistan.
Islamabad’s paranoia about Afghan government’s support to India must be reimagined in order to have friendly ties with the western neighbour. Pakistan needs to review its approach of linking the Kashmir issue with security situation in Afghanistan. The nature of the conflict in Afghanistan is completely different from that of Kashmir. Delinking Kashmir issue from Afghanistan is a prerequisite to re-imagining Pak-Afghan ties from security, economic and political perspectives.
The US wants to end the war in Afghanistan in order to turn its focus towards Indian Ocean where it needs to deal with the Chinese influence in the region. Initiation of peace talks becomes even more important in this regard. President Ghani too wants dialogue with Taliban to end militancy and ensure security in Afghanistan. In this regard, he accuses Pakistan of supporting Taliban militants. Undoubtedly, Islamabad does have influence over Taliban leaders but is it willing to give up on its policy?
From Afghanistan’s side, Durand line issue needs to be kept aside for coming decades, and attention must be shifted towards establishing sustainable economy. President Ashraf Ghani also wants to divert his attention towards economic prosperity and sustainable peace. For that, Pakistan must not view Afghanistan from the lens of Durand line, and focus should be on managing other, more pressing issues.
European Union is an example in this regard where all countries decided to improve the life standard of their citizens. In order to end poverty, intolerance, religious fundamentalism, unemployment and illiteracy, both countries should give priority to overcoming these evils.
Both countries share a long cultural history. Mutual cooperation in this regard will help minimise the trust deficit between Kabul and Islamabad.