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The Muslim World

Pak-Afghan relations: Cooperation is the only option

It is unfortunate that following the truck bomb incident in Kabul in which many precious lives were lost and which was equally condemned by Pakistan, the Pakistan –sponsored talks between Afghanistan and Taliban have collapsed. As a consequence, the process of normalization of relations between Kabul and Islamabad has also stalled.

            As a matter of fact, there had been many apprehensions about the success of the talks between Afghan government and the Taliban. The Pakistan Foreign Office was conscious about the machinations of the powerful Indian lobby in Kabul and of the opposition by the Pakistan hostile elements within the Afghan government. But President Ashraf Ghani’s fresh bid for friendship and his personal initiative soon after taking the office had kindled hopes that finally the two neighboring countries would overcome the atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust that had bedeviled their relations, and usher in a new era of friendship and cooperation between themselves. In particular, President Ghani’s visit to the Pakistan Army’s headquarters and meeting with the army chief was seen as a sure sign of change for the better.

            But subsequent events dashed all hopes to the ground. Now as the things stand today, talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban seem impossible, at least for the moment. But that should not deter the two brother Muslim countries to mend their relations and cooperate with each for the achievement of their common aims.

            The two countries are bound by centuries of common history and social, cultural and religious ties. In terms of modern day realities, Afghanistan is dependent upon Pakistan for ninety per cent of its foreign trade. Almost all its land transport is routed through Pakistan. Besides, it imports a large quantity of its food requirements from Pakistan and Pakistan imports fresh fruit, dry fruit and wool etc from Afghanistan.

            There is an unlimited scope for development of social, cultural, economic and educational ties between the two countries. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s eternal enemy, India, has been meddling in Afghanistan for a long time and exploiting some of the problems between the two countries, for its own ulterior motives.

            It may be stated here that problems like Taliban or Al-Qaida terrorism are faced by both the countries alike. Due to the difficult mountainous terrain there cannot be a tight control on the movement of terrorists on either side of the border and the former have been taking advantage of that. They can be checked only when there is close and active cooperation between the forces of the two countries.

            The Afghan authorities should appreciate the fact that Pakistan has been conducting a full-fledged operation against the Taliban and other terrorists in its areas bordering Afghanistan. The terrorists can be eliminated only if both the countries actively cooperate with each other.

            The two countries should resume their dialogue to find ways and means to fight the common problem so as to ensure security and peace in the region.