Af-Pak mistrust challenge to stability: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Expressing concern at border incidents including artillery shelling and increased rhetoric from leaders of the two countries, the Pentagon has told US Congress relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan pose a significant challenge to regional stability.
“The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan continues to pose a significant challenge to the stability of the region,” the Pentagon said in its latest six-monthly report to Congress on the security situation in Afghanistan.
During the period, there have been several border incidents that heightened tensions, to include; artillery shelling, Pakistani construction of trenches, the arrest of Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan and increased rhetoric from leaders on both sides, the report said.
“Pakistan also hosts one of the largest refugee communities in the world, estimated at several million Afghans, who are blamed for strains on the local economy and security threats,” it added.
Despite these setbacks, ISAF would continue to support the development of a constructive military to-military relationship and provide venues for the two sides to come together with the intent of improving the poor state of their relations.
However, convincing both sides to cooperate on a range of security issues would take a concerted and sustained effort by the international community, the Pentagon explained.
According to the report, the Pakistan government has sought to increase engagement with Afghanistan. However, suspicion has surrounded the relationship between Kabul and Islamabad, inhibiting bilateral cooperation on border security protocols.
“It is possible that the new Afghan President Dr. Ghani, will seek to change this dynamic, which Pakistan is likely to welcome. Although stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan, Pakistan also seeks sufficient Pashtun representation in the Afghan government to prevent Pashtun discontent along border and limit India’s influence,” the report said.
Pakistan made some progress on interdicting and disrupting the production of IED components, but still falls short despite greater engagement and recent cooperation. A significant portion of the materials, which perpetuate the conflict, continue to emanate from or transit through Pakistan.
“Afghan and Indian-focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military,” it said.
The relationships run counter to Pakistan’s public commitment to support Afghan-led reconciliation. Such groups continue to act as the primary irritant in Afghan-Pakistan bilateral relations, the report said.
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