Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

The Out-of-shape Triangle

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The Out-of-shape Triangle

Pak-US relations have been going through a declining trend since the hunt of Osama Bin Laden on the Pakistani land by US troops. With certain inconsiderable efforts for improvement during the process, the incidents have kept on leading the relations towards the lowest possible point and that is where it stands now. Pakistan has always had an important role in Afghanistan and has influenced it in some way or the other. Though, its role has not always been positive, its importance has been felt, not only to get rid of terrorism but also establishing a strong political order in the country.

Moreover, since the beginning of war against terrorism, the imperative triangle – Afghanistan, US and Pakistan – has been required to have a proper shape but that has not happened the way it had to. On some occasions US has been over aggressive while on some others Pakistan has been too much tricky. The remaining shortcomings have been fulfilled by the reluctance and corrupt attitude of Afghan authorities.

After the NATO attack on the Pakistani military post that resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers, the US-Pak relations are heading towards further deterioration. Pakistan has shown serious reaction to the event and has taken certain steps in this regard.

It has disconnected the communication channels with NATO and has blocked the NATO supply routes which provided NATO with some of the basic supplies like fuel. It has mentioned that it will definitely reconsider the approach towards NATO and cooperation in 'war against terrorism' and may boycott the Bonn II conference. It has asked US to evacuate the Shamsi base within two weeks time and Pakistani Prime Minister has mentioned clearly, "Business as usual will not be there."

As far as the attack is concerned, there are controversies regarding the opinion of Afghan and NATO troops on one side and of Pakistan on the other. NATO has mentioned that the attack was a reaction to the firings that they received from Pakistani side of the border during an Afghan-NATO joint operation against the terrorists in the bordering areas of Kunar.

Moreover, NATO has also mentioned that they are sorry for the Pakistani casualties. US has also mentioned condolence and has promised to carry out a fair investigation into the matter. An Afghan senior official has mentioned, "The most important point here is that they were receiving fire from the direction of that post."

Qari Ehsanullah Ehsan, a tribal leader from Kunar has mentioned, "These terrorist wear civilian clothes and then when they have done their attacks in Afghanistan they go to the Pakistani checkpoint. Some of them wear fake beards and then put on Pakistani military clothes when they finish their operations. The people of Kunar are happy. We have been telling the Americans for a long time that the Pakistanis are bringing the Taliban to our villages."

Pakistan in response to all these claims have clearly mentioned that the attack on the checkpoint were 'unprovoked' and lasted for few hours even after Pakistan had contacted NATO to stop the attacks. Moreover, Pakistani officials have claimed that there were no fires from Pakistani checkpoint on the NATO or Afghan forces.

There are many ambiguities which are yet to be resolved. Hopefully, the investigation that has been set will definitely work to remove these ambiguities and make the realities clear to everyone since this particular incident is going to have lasting impact not only on the relations of US and Pakistan but it is going to affect the Afghan-Pak relations to a large extent.

There has been condolence from China through the foreign minister Yang Jiechi for the Pakistani soldiers who have been victimized by the attack. He has mentioned, "China is deeply shocked by these events, and expressing strong concern for the victims and profound condolences to Pakistan," and a foreign ministry spokesman has added, "China believes that Pakistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and the incident should be thoroughly investigated and be handled properly." China has always showed that it has great interest about its relations with Pakistan. Moreover, like Iran and Russia, China also has concerns about the permanent bases in Afghanistan.

In short, it comes to the front that the triangle – Afghanistan, US and Pakistan – has only been able to make the regional countries and international world more ambiguous about Afghanistan and war against terrorism.

The upcoming Bonn II that had to be very decisive does not seem to achieve great milestones. The first Bonn Conference was very much productive, while this second one is going to be the victim of unpreparedness, and conflicts among these main players.

The boycott of Pakistan from the Conference has in fact confirmed that this conference is not going to make much difference to the future of Afghanistan. However, it does not suggest that its presence could make a very huge difference. It would only serve to make the world see that the triangle is in shape but it has shown that it has gone out-of-shape.

Afghanistan has not been a very active part of this triangle but it has always played important role. On most of the occasions it has not been able to decide its position in the triangle without the influence of other two sides. In fact it has been the smallest side of the triangle. However, it must not forget that without it triangle is incomplete.

All it wants are some strong and wise steps in its diplomatic relations. For Afghanistan at this moment it is necessary that it should maintain strong relations with regional countries along with the Western allies.

The neighboring countries should not feel that the country is being used for aggression on other countries. At this crucial moment Afghanistan must maintain strong diplomatic relations with Pakistan and handle the situation tactfully and at the same time make US trust on it.

Afghanistan and Pakistan and US are connected to one another in the war against terrorism in such a way that non of the three can extract itself out of it without influencing the others and without putting an end to the entire phenomenon of terrorism. Nevertheless, Afghanistan must never sacrifice its national interests in the process.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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