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The Increasing Tensions in Pak-Afghan Ties

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The developments related to relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan is indicating that the bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries is increasingly straining. According to National Directorate for Security (NDS) officials, a bomb plot to blow up Salma Dam was planned in Quetta city of Baluchistan with the help of Pakistan’s intelligence agency. In another case, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested to Pakistan’s border activities and reinforcing physical and military enforcement. The ministry conveyed grave concerns of Afghan government to Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul. At the same time, Pakistan’s army chief called on foreign forces in Afghanistan to prevent border incursions by militants from Afghan soil.

The events are developing as the government of Afghanistan and Pakistan are trading allegations against each other regarding the peace efforts. Recently, the government of Afghanistan said it would pursue peace efforts for brining the Taliban on negotiation table without Pakistan’s help. But Pakistan rejected that the country had ‘unacceptable preconditions’ for mediating between the Taliban and Afghan government and that the country wanted Afghanistan to cut ties with India. Pakistan said it supports Afghan-led peace wholeheartedly.

But despite such verbal supports from Pakistani side, it seems that the country has been unwilling to fully cooperate with the peace efforts. Pakistan has proved that it would not support peace talks between Afghan government and the insurgent groups without a push for its strategic goals in Afghanistan. After Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met British Prime Minister in London, Afghanistan seemed very optimistic towards Pakistani help in peace process and its cooperation to persuade insurgents to negotiate a peace deal in Afghanistan. But recently, the government unexpectedly started criticizing Pakistan’s stance on Afghan peace process, saying Islamabad had unacceptable preconditions in exchange for its help in bringing peace in Afghanistan.

This immediate shift in Kabul’s view towards Pakistan’s intention to the peace plan in Afghanistan justifies the argument that Islamabad has irritated Kabul with surprising demands seemingly related to Kabul-Delhi relations and Indian presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan has expressed high level of sensitivity to the warm relations between Afghanistan and India. Afghanistan considers India as an ally in fighting terrorism and developing the country. In the meantime Kabul has struggled to develop friendly ties with Pakistan while maintaining relations with India. No doubt, this a wise foreign policy pursued by the Afghan government. Afghanistan needs to have friendly ties with its international supporters whether it is India, Pakistani or any other countries.

Pakistan itself is paying a grave price in fighting militancy in the country. But in the meantime, the country does not seem to fully support peace efforts in Afghanistan without preconditions. The ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan fuels instability in Pakistan as well and Islamabad knows this fact. The peace and stability in both neighboring countries is closely tied to each other. If there is no peace in Afghanistan, there would be no peace in Pakistan and the region. Pakistan needs to understand what are at stake and support the peace efforts in Afghanistan.

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