The latest interview of Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf with David Bradley - owner of Atlantic Media Company at Washington idea forum, has prompted me write this article. Pakistani leaders and policy makers, giving interviews and making statements, regarding Afghanistan, should think seriously and responsibly about the relationship within the two neighboring countries.
In that interview Pervez Musharraf said that he believes that Afghanistan has become the source of a proxy battle between his country and India. General Musharraf, who led Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, should know very well that if that is the case so whose fault is it and who is to be blamed for that?
It was him who as president of Pakistan, head of the Pakistan armed force and ISI of that country and other Pakistani past and present leaders make their negative policies towards Afghanistan, which have created this kind of instable environment in the region.
I have met President Musharraf several times, in Islamabad when I was the minister of public works in Afghanistan in 2002. I have lots of respects for him and I believed that he was one of the best leaders in Pakistani military governments.
However, General Musharraf and some of his friends during his government must know that for the last 10 years, the promises that they have made to the Afghan Officials including President Karzai regarding their assistance for the development in security and progress of Afghanistan has not being fulfilled, and this is one of the issues that turns Afghans not to trust Pakistani leadership and its empty promises.
One of the important issues is Afghanistan and Pakistan Transit agreement which was signed in 1965 between the two countries is that in 1966 Pakistan did not fulfill its obligations of the agreement and in 1967 Afghanistan took the matter to International courts where the final decision was that Pakistan must fulfils its commitments on 1965 transit agreement.
On May 12 , 2002 in our meeting with President Musharraf , I and Sayyed Mustafa Kazimi (Shaeed) the then Minister of Commerce and Trade of Afghanistan and three other Afghan ministers, discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan transit agreement. After a long explanation and discussion, President Musharraf directed his Minister of commerce Mr. Razak and told him that It is Afghanistan's rights which they should fulfill our side of the agreement. He instructed his ministers to find ways of implementing the 1965 Transits Agreements with Afghanistan and he further instructed his minister of transportation that Pakistan should give more concessions on transporting Afghan transit goods from Pakistan ports to Afghanistan borders.
The question is, "Where are we now on the Transit issue?" Pakistan has not yet committed itself to the 1965 transit agreement.
President Musharraf should know that for Afghanistan's national interests Afghanistan's prime political objective has always been to keep foreign powers at arm's length, preventing any of them becoming too influential in Afghan affairs, with the exception of the last 33 years which had created uncertainty and confusions about the path of the Afghan politics in the region.
Afghanistan foreign policy before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was very much for its national interests such as security, economic, political and territorial Integrity. Its diplomatic policy was to play the foreign powers off, against each others to its own advantage.
General Musharraf should know that Afghanistan has never been in the business of dirty politics of playing the game of siding with one or another country against Pakistan as there has not been a need to do that and it is not for Afghanistan's national interests.
However an Afghanistan government has always placed great emphasis, upon the country's neutral and independence position. The reason of this natural and independent policy, of Afghanistan which was successful has been as the result of its long historical experience with foreign powers.
For more than a century Afghanistan, major worries were caused by the ambitions of Greater Britain and Russia and later on Soviet Union. The Russia was pressing from the Northwest Central Asia and Britain was advancing from East and South through India and now Pakistan.
As a result of the long term objectives of these two powers in the region, both have ceased to encroach upon Afghan Territory.
General Musharraf and other Pakistani decisions makers should know that during these times both of these powers have sealed their agreement to leave Afghanistan intact as a buffer state, with the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 signed by the above two countries, when Pakistan was not even created. Perhaps, all these power games between Russia and Britain over Afghanistan were and still are that this is a nerve centre of the region if not the world politics.
However, both of these powers have kept watching very closely, every move of each other in regards to this strategically important country with far-reaching consequences for later development.
These powers closely kept their eyes on Afghanistan developmental process, not letting Afghan political, economic and social progress to be at the regional level.
Pakistan since 1947 up to now has played its negative role in this strategy. Iran was developing with the American help and Pakistan was developing with the British assistance. Afghanistan was left to itself to find its own way of resources, for its economic and political progress.
Afghanistan has never been used, either by Russia, India or any other countries against Pakistan. Neither are Afghanistan rulers so week to be used against its neighbors and Muslim brothers, Pakistan and Iran.
Afghanistan Government has to keep its bilateral relation with its friends for its own national interests and economic benefits. The same that Pakistan is keeping its relationship with the countries of its choice. We do not see Pakistan's relationship with China as a threat to us. We think it is good and that China is an economic super power in the world and we also want to have close bilateral relationship with them. We have signed very impotent business contracts with China and are continuing doing that. Does Pakistan see that a threat to their national security?
The same rules apply to Indian relationship with Afghanistan. India has always had a very cordial relationship with Afghanistan, and this has been the policy of the Afghan governments in the past and up to now to keep that bilateral good relationship in its best shape.
For the past 10 years, India has played a positive developmental role in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan. They have contributed over two billion dollars to several projects in Afghanistan; should we appreciate that or not?
Let me assure the government and the people of Pakistan, that no country will be able to use Afghanistan, its resources and land against Pakistan, provided that Pakistan come up with honest, reliable and positive policies towards Afghanistan.
One must not deny the facts that, over the past 31 years, Pakistan has been the host to millions of Afghan refugees. Providing protection to those who came from wars and fighting zones of Afghanistan. Some of these Afghan refugees became as part of social and economic fabric of Pakistan. These Afghan refugees also contributed in Pakistan developmental process. Many of these refugees took their wealth and invested in Pakistan.
The visit of Afghanistan President Karzai to Islamabad in May 2011 was very positive. It was full of extremely impotent strategic agreements, which were signed between the two countries, to improve its future good relationship. If Islamabad honestly and truthfully obey and implement these new agreements, then it will be a new chapter in the friendly and neighboring relation of both countries. Those new agreements can open the way to resolve the most important and long-standing issues, between the two countries.
However these agreements can also provide the ground for a future social, economic, and diplomatic relation to be improved. It can also open the door for all other issues to be resolved, which will be for the benefit of both countries. This opportunity must not be missed by Pakistan and Afghanistan and should be fully supported by the International community.