On President's Visit to Islamabad
In a two-day visit to Pakistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai rrived in Islamabad on Friday. The trip is aimed at discussing bilateral ties, further cooperation to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region. The president is also supposed to inaugurate the joint peace commission and discuss the reconciliation process. Karzai will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Prior to the president's trip to Pakistan, Afghan ambassador to Islamabad had said that Afghanistan and Pakistan had safely passed the distrust epoch and had to take practical steps to achieve peace. Indications clearly rebuff Mr. Ambassador's highly optimistic and diplomatic statements. There have been severe tensions between the two countries on the terrorist networks operating along the Pak-Afghan border.
Enjoying their safe hotbeds in Pakistani tribal areas – having recently spread their operations to many major Pakistani cities – easily enter Afghanistan and launch devastative attacks against the Afghan and International Forces and the Afghan facilities. President Karzai's administration has frequently blamed Pakistan for inefficient counterterrorism activities. The country's security intelligence has bluntly accused groups in Pakistan for designing and implementing destructive attacks. However, the top diplomatic level of the two countries has tried to ignore the growing tensions among the lower ranks and keep veiled the deteriorating insecurity.
While Afghanistan has greatly suffered from external hotbeds for terrorism and the growing violence in the country, analysts have admitted that the process is not just a domestic issue. So, for finding a productive solution to the problem, President Karzai's government and its western allies needed to seek for the external causes. For instance, it is highly affected by the regional rivalry between the two South Asian hostile neighbors, India and Pakistan. The two countries have regularly expressed fear on the second party's role in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. However, Afghan Government has frequently assured them of Afghanistan's friendly approach towards the neighboring and regional countries. It has demonstrated the need for regional and global cooperation on the counterterrorism mission.
The US has meticulously understood the relevance of war in Afghanistan with the India-Pakistan enmity. Ryan Crocker, nominated by US President Barack Obama to be his next envoy to Kabul, during his confirmation hearing to the Senate committee, welcomed resumption of talks between the foreign secretaries of the two nations. "I think that's an important step. I hope they sustain it and they broaden it because clearly the degree to which India and Pakistan start to see some capacity to work together — it's to the benefit of the region, and it's to the benefit of us" he said. Having felt the reality, Afghan government and international community have attempted to mitigate risks posed to Afghanistan by Pak-India rivalries through easing relations between the two opponents. The US-backed peace talks between the two countries came to a halt following the deadly terrorist attacks on Indian financial hub, Mumbai city on September 26, 2008.
As many in Afghanistan believe that President Karzai in this visit to Pakistan will, as usual, remain restricted to diplomatic formalities in talks and put emphasis on further cooperation between the two countries, no significant step will be taken to overcome the long standing challenge of terrorism.
It has taken place time and again that the country's leaders have observed mere diplomatic procedures in talks with the external stakeholders but have raised anger and criticism as soon as they encounter a serious security question. Too much diplomacy, if continues, will waste the resources and time spent on the war on terror which may ultimately lead to a total defeat of both the nations against the uncontrolled wave of extremism. It is the time for the leadership of both the neighboring countries first to reach on a substantial mutual approach, how to deal with terrorism in accordance to the benchmarks set by the international community.
Pakistan should keep in mind that it needs more commitment in counter-terrorism measures since it is losing more than Afghanistan. Terrorist networks are destroying already established institutions there while in Afghanistan the security, political and economic institutions are not yet truly established.