Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 21st, 2018

More in ­­­­­Talks than in Practice

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More in ­­­­­Talks than in Practice

In a new report, the UN has an nounced that May was the deadli est month for Afghan civilians since 2007. This, on the other side, indicates the overall deterioration of security situation in the exhaustingly battled Afghanistan. Reporting the most recent security incidents in the country, news agencies said that a string of attacks across Afghanistan have killed at least 21 people. This comes at a time when the US forces will shortly start abandoning Afghanistan. Few weeks prior to the international forces'pullout date, president Karzai administration has enhanced efforts to get domestic and regional support for the reconciliation process he has been offering to the Taliban militants since the first years of his government. Formation of the High Peace Council, in addition to many other appeasing measures, was aimed at encouraging Taliban to lay down arms and join the peace process. Of the many placating practices by president Karzai's government to win hearts of his "discontented brothers", none has produced a slight outcome. Nonetheless, he hopes reconciliation is the final choice for the country in fight against militants and it would come productive. Other than his calls upon international community to align with the Afghan government's policies in fight against extremism in the country, he is seeking neighboring and regional countries' support for the current reconciliation scheme.

In an effort to win more supports for his policies, president Karzai is just back to Kabul from a two-day visit to Pakistan. During the visit, Afghan President and his accompanying delegation met with the Pakistani president, prime minister and the political and religious figures with close ties to the Taliban. The leaders of the two nations vowed to fight the scourge of terrorism and to expand their cooperation to establish peace in the violence-wracked region. Following talks in Islamabad between President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari focused on efforts to broker peace with the Taliban, the leaders emphasized the common nature of their struggle. The two countries signed the Islamabad declaration through which the two countries agreed to improve connectivity and infrastructure development, initiate cooperation in energy, mines and mineral sectors and significantly increase cultural, parliamentary, student, youths and people-to-people contacts. But since security topped the agenda in bilateral discussions, Afghanistan president was accompanied by head of the high peace council, Afghan intelligence director and the minister of interior who met their counterparts to discuss security related issues. However, reports said that no new measures were discussed to help improve security in the two countries.

Pakistan promised supports for the peace bid in Afghanistan. But that would be no new matter unless it is translated into practical, transparent actions against extremism hotbed in Pakistan. Since long, there have been severe tensions between the two countries on varying issues and, in the last decade, 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 reality-based growing tensions 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 are 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. For that, Afghan government 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 last week, welcomed resumption of talks between the foreign secretaries of the two nations. 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 in late 2008.

No need to say, Afghanistan has been and will surely be a bad victim for the strategic rivalries if it continues serving as chessboard for global and regional competitions. But the only appropriate choice left for all parties to advance trust and cooperation is to aptly recognize further devastating consequences of the covert warfare. Looking at the common interests they share, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan can establish further cooperative ties to overcome the dreadful distrust to get rid of the dominant scourge of terrorism. The safe havens for Al Qaeda and its associate groups in the Pakistani region of tribal belt remain a great matter of concern for both Afghanistan and India. Regional countries and the international community have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to curb militancy there to help achieve peace and stability in the region. By establishing a line of cooperation, the three nations can immediately triumph over challenges.

Without doubt, Pakistan has suffered from expansion of extremism and religious fanaticism, the same as Afghanistan has experienced for years. But there are serious criticisms against the country in fighting the wave of lethal radicalism.The continued easy operations by global terror network and the local militants in the tribal areas have remained out of the strike zone. The current US pressure on Pakistani government to launch military operations against terrorists in the Northern Waziristan has turned to a burning question on the fate of extremism. If the area remains safe for the terrorists, the Afghan mission will last evermore and the region will see further instability as soon as the international forces leave Afghanistan.

Irrespective of the short-term consequences of the recent security developments both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there are clear lessons for both countries to be learnt out of such extremist moves. That is the uncontrolled spread of extremism by the global terrorist networks, supported by certain religious groups in Pakistan. The region and Afghanistan, in particular, is highly vulnerable to growth of religious extremism in Pakistan. In addition to those in Pakistan, the increasing extremism around the globe, and fanatic approaches towards the domestic issues in the Islamic countries and international subjects serve as great alert to the current circumstances. To reiterate, acknowledging the fact that Pakistan has suffered from extremism and militancy too, the indications suggest the country's qualm over outcomes resulting from the current situation. Obviously, trust, determination and cooperation are of the basic prerequisites needed to overcome the common challenge of extremism and terrorism.

Nasrudding Hemati is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached through mail@outlook-afghanistan.com

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