Cling to clear stance on Pakistan, analysts urge president
Ten months into its tenure, the government seems to have lost patience with Pakistan and has announced its clearest stance yet on the neighbour’s role in the Afghan-led peace process.
A fiery President Ashraf Ghani told journalists on Monday that war was being declared against Afghanistan from Pakistan’s soil. If Islamabad did not have the ability to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, it can stop their activities on its soil, he argued.
Earlier, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah also slammed Pakistan’s lack of cooperation with regard to the Afghan peace process, saying Kabul had conclusively proved its desire for better relation with Islamabad based on mutual respect and non-interference.
“We took steps against the wishes of our people but, unfortunately, Pakistan did not cooperate with us in fighting terrorism in the last 10 months the way we expected,” he added.
Some analysts opine people’s trust in the government has declined and in order to control the situation, Afghan leaders have adopted a harsher stance against Pakistan.
Najib Paikan, a political analyst, told Pajhwok Afghan News the president and CEO’s recent stance should have been spelled out on their first day in office, given their familiarity with Pakistan.
“What the government leaders said is what the masses talk about all the time. It’s necessary for our leaders to make speeches compatible with strong action and demonstrate their intolerance of compromise on the national interest.”
Paikan added the government should also have decisive position on the insurgents and their backers. “We should not forget that one attack in Peshawar even brought amendments to the Pakistan constitution, but in Afghanistan everyday blood is shed and people lose their children. Which is why the recent attacks in Kabul compelled the government to take this stance,” he noted.
In three powerful blasts in Kabul on Friday, more than 50 people -- most of them civilians -- were killed and nearly 500 more wounded. The Shah Shaheed incident that occurred as a result of an explosives-laden truck was called unprecedented, inflicting millions of afghanis on financial losses on people and businesses.
Another suicide blast near the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul also took lives of five civilians and wounded 15 more.
According to Paikan, if the government had not changed its position towards Pakistan after these incidents, the masses would have become more alienated and there was even a possibility of the government’s collapse.
He said in the past 14 years Afghanistan had tried many times to reach out to Pakistan but to no avail. It failed to win an honest commitment from that country.
Mohammad Mohaqiq, deputy CEO, said Pakistan was playing a deceptive game and it was time for the government to have a clear stance. “In the last 10 months all our overtures toward Pakistan ended up in sheer disappointment.”
Masoom Stanikzai, acting defence minister, said: “We must work towards national and international mobilisation. The evidence we have proves our correct position.”
Aziz Rafiee, a political analyst, said: “Since public confidence in the government had declined, the incumbent administration was forced to come up with a well-defined policy toward Pakistan.”
“I don’t think Afghan leaders have a clear policy toward Pakistan. But to manage the public opinion, they had to take an anti-Pakistan stance,” he remarked.Rafiee said peace talks would remain ambiguous like Afghanistan’s fate had been in the last 13 years.
The first round of direct talks between government and Taliban representatives was held last month in Murree, near the Pakistani capital Islamabad. But the second round, supposed to take place two weeks back, was postponed indefinitely.
Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who has succeeded Mullah Omar as Taliban’s supreme leader, has abandoned the peace talks while pledging to pursue the armed conflict.
Mohammad Omar Daudzai, former interior minister, also hailed President Ghani’s position as a positive shift. “I welcomed his stance regarding the peace process. I was waiting for this day and position regarding Taliban and Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan condemned the recent wave of attacks in Kabul. In a statement, the Foreign Office in Islamabad renewed its commitment to better relations with Afghanistan and insisted on jointly fighting the scourge of terrorism.
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