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Pakistan fooling itself

Pakistan says it is ready to revamp the stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban militants. From Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz to the army chief Gen. Raheel, both the civilian and powerful military establishments renewed the offers to support Kabul in the reconciliation process. However, there is no difference between what they said one year ago when the National Unity Government (NUG) was established and now when the NUG is totally disappointed by hawkish Pakistani policymakers. This disappointment is clearly seen in the statement of the deputy spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani. The deputy spokesperson Syed Zafar Hashmi said that Pakistan should eliminate safe havens of all those terrorist organizations that are attacking Afghan civilians and security forces, before the two countries could discuss the halted peace process.

The statement is a clear indicator that Afghanistan would not discuss the peace talks unless Pakistan had taken concrete and sincere steps to leash the insurgents. Pakistan is fooling itself on it because Afghan government repeatedly asked Islamabad to push the Taliban to negotiations’ table but the neighboring country did the opposite. The militants flanked by Pakistani, Chechen, Uzbek and Arab terrorists are organizing large-scale attacks on Afghan cities but the Pakistani authorities are not preventing them. It is an open secret that the Taliban plan these attacks from Pakistan.

In the last decade, Afghan government employed all peaceful means, particularly diplomacy, to convince Islamabad that stable Afghanistan is in its interest but the latter failed to pay heed. Haqqani Network and the Taliban are given free hand and shelters. On the stage, Pakistani officials claim to be sincere and in favor of peace process but behind the scene they do not want to wrap up the militancy and bring stability back to Afghanistan. That’s why violence has made home in the war-hit country and Afghans are killed on daily basis.

If Islamabad has been sincere, it would have brokered deal on the immediate ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan government. Without ceasefire the reconciliation process is meaningless because the bloodshed will continue. Pakistan’s spy agency ISI is supporting Afghan militants openly as mean to achieve ends. Violence in Afghanistan has remained core of Pakistan’s policies. There is huge trust deficit between the two countries. Pakistan could bridge this gap if it launched crackdowns against the Taliban. Those who are willing to negotiate with Afghan government should be transferred to Kabul and the rest should be punished. These steps are necessary to regain the lost trust.
Pakistan should not conceive increasing insecurity in Afghanistan as success of its “strategic depth” policy. Afghan leaders are not clueless on how to deter the militants. The recent stance of the Ghani administration is a clear message to the neighboring country that Kabul would not allow anyone to challenge the Constitution and take the cities. Afghanistan will not be allowed to become a satellite state of Pakistan.

Therefore, Pakistani leadership should act against the terrorists and support the Afghan peace talks in real sense instead of hurling statements that carry no weight.

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