By Hashim Minhas
Internationally, it is widely agreed that the significance of cordial relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the regional stability and beyond is incontestable. The recent episode of Kunduz’s capture by Taliban and its recapture by Afghan security Forces with the clutches of Foreign military might, has established the fact that Afghan Armed forces are not yet fully prepared to take over the responsibility of defending their fragile country and without the backing of Foreign military assistance.
Although, the Afghan special operations forces carried out an impressive show of spearheading the counteroffensive to retake the northern city of Kunduz from Taliban insurgents, but the spine behind the courage was obviously the US troops and their furious Air power.
Kunduz, Northern Province of Afghanistan is adjacent to Tajikistan. In a blitz offensive, Taliban thrashed all the security measures taken by ill trained and ill equipped Afghan forces and hibernating intelligence apparatus and captured the city of Kunduz. Astonishingly, the Afghan security forces vacated the city without offering any resistance. The attack was led by Abdul Salam Akhwand Zada, who was closely linked with ex President Hamid Karzai. Occupation of Kunduz by the Taliban created regional as well as global undulation.
Inland it sparked strong anti Ashraf Ghani government reaction. Simultaneously, it has also exposed the incapacity of NDS and Afghan Forces to monitor / withstand the Taliban offensives. It even created embarrassment for the Allied forces, who have spent lavishly on capacity building of the Afghan security forces. Mr Abdullah Abdullah, while talking on Kunduz incident, even avoided terming it an intelligence and forces failure.
The fact was later admitted by Afghan intelligence Chief Rahmatullah Nabil before Afghan parliament. In fact, Kunduz remained a prime target for resurgent Taliban and its affiliates for gaining the strategic hold and domination of the area. The situation has also extending ample opportunities to the groups opposed to the stability in Afghan. It has also created favorable conditions for masterminds to wage the proxies through TTA, ISIS, ETIM etc.
Experts are evaluating the need and timings of the Kunduz offence launched by Taliban and it is widely agreed that the metaphoric capture of Kunduz by Taliban was able to disseminate the message of being kicking alive with the potential of carrying out such spectacular attacks, at any time and space in Afghanistan.
However, The temporary fall of Kunduz and recapturing it through the jointly launched operation by US and Afghan forces was able to offer a much needed rationale for US troops Commander in Afghanistan and Pentagon for clinging to Afghanistan in the name of maintaining the sovereignty of Afghanistan and achieving the so called peace and prosperity of Afghanistan.
Kunduz is said to be a major population center, strategically located on highways that connect directly to Afghanistan and Mazar-i- Sharif. But it is just one of the cities in which Afghan security forces are struggling to maintain control against the Taliban insurgency. Experts support the analysis that until the winter brings its usual Lull in insurgent activity, the Taliban would continue to conduct attacks and to stage similar offensives in Northern provinces, including Faryab, Takhar, Baghlan, and Badakhstan. This is in addition to Taliban operations in the Southern and Eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s challenge will be to balance its security efforts in Afghanistan to avoid further embarrassment at the hands of Taliban.
The masterminds of Kunduz attack synchronized the attack with the United Nations General Assembly’s 70th session. Thus, Afghanistan’s CEO Abdullah Abdullah brazenly exploited the opportunity to spit venom against Pakistan by repeating allegations that the offensive had foreign support and Pakistan continues to harbor Taliban elements. In his schizophrenic posture towards Pakistan, he preferred to remain deliberately oblivious to the bitter facts about very fragile control of Afghan government over the country and incapacity of Afghan security apparatus.
It is pertinent to mention that UNGA session was exploited by leadership of both India and Afghanistan to hyphenate Pakistan with terrorism and project it as terrorism proprietor country. Pakistan’s reaction on “Kunduz episode” and whimsical allegation by Afghan leadership remained as a sincere feelings of a friendly country.
In a policy statement, Pakistan rejected and condemned the Taliban takeover of Kunduz by declaring that Afghanistan is being run by democratically elected and legitimate government and the occupation of any part of Afghanistan by any group was ‘unacceptable’ to Islamabad. Pakistan also reiterated for Afghan reconciliation and a peacefully negotiated settlement of all issues. Pakistan also emphasized that the solution does not lie in blame game; rather it lies in the cooperation.
While talking of cordial relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan there is a legacy of deep mistrust between the Afghan leadership and its general public due to traditional corruption and other governance related issues which has over all deteriorated the security environment and Law and Order situation in the country. These factors have also caused negative impacts on its relations with Pakistan. The realities and intricacies of the Geo-political, economic and other interests, which necessitate the cordial bilateral relations has not yet been realized by Afghanistan, despite of Pakistan sincere commitment and efforts.
Establishing cordial relations between them can contribute a lot in making the region prosperous besides defeating and removing many ills being faced by the people. But the sympathizers of Evil forces desiring to witness Pak – Afghan region as battle ground for waging the containment wars in Afghanistan by adopting the puzzling strategies. Additionally, the progress in the right direction could be jeopardized by foreign powers if leadership of both the countries do not show their resolve for peace. Role of any such internal/external elements has to be curtailed to foil their short and long term vested interests.
The destiny of Afghanistan to prosperity is linked with Pakistan. Both the countries need each other’s help for waging successful campaign against their common foes. Afghanistan can also seek support of Pakistan in its reconstruction plans. On the other hand, owing to the pressing energy needs, Pakistan needs Afghanistan in many ways.
Both the countries should realize that cooperation between them would bring peace and prosperity in the region. Pakistan also needs Afghanistan’s strategic support to neutralize growing Indian terrorist activities undertaken from her giant diplomatic set ups in Afghanistan. Mutual collaboration will also become handy in checking cross-border infiltrations aimed at damaging development and infrastructure in the two provinces of Pakistan sharing border with Afghanistan. Both the countries can also jointly fight the menace of drug trafficking adversely affecting both the countries.