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Re-devising Afghan foreign policy

The fall of two districts in northern Kunduz province to the Taliban and a coordinated attack on the parliament on Monday have sent a bad vibe amid Afghanistan and Pakistan efforts to combat terrorism with concerted efforts.

Though, Kabul and Islamabad, in the recent past, signed an intelligence sharing agreement and coordinating operations, a report released by the US State Department titled: Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, last week said that several terrorist networks active in Afghanistan including al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network and others operate freely from Pakistan.

The report adds that Afghanistan in particular will experience aggressive and coordinated attack by the Afghan Taliban including Haqqani network. The report also said that since President Ashraf Ghani formed a National Unity Government with Abdullah Abdullah, he has actively pursued cross-border security cooperation with Pakistan including the prospect of joint military operations to reduce safe havens on both sides of the Durand Line.

Sartaj Aziz, the national security advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also shares the same view as he said that Pakistan signed the intelligence sharing MoU with Afghanistan on the insistence of Kabul. He said it when Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai, a Pashtun nationalist leader and a member of the Standing Committee of Pakistan’s National Assembly on Foreign Affairs, expressed his concerns over the role of Pakistan in war on terror and said that still terrorists are going to Afghanistan in multitude. Achakzai warned that given the current attitude of Pakistan, relations between Kabul and Islamabad will fall to a new low in the coming three months. He informed the Standing Committee that there is a wave of anger against the intelligence sharing deal between Afghanistan and Pakistan spy agencies.

He told the committee that Afghanistan has always felt a grudge against Pakistan for not respecting the former’s national sovereignty. He urged the government to respect Afghanistan’s national sovereignty.

Since the day Afghanistan and Pakistan have signed the MoU on intelligence sharing, logically there must have been decline in terror attacks but to the dismay and anger of the general public, the opposite is happening. There has been a steady rise in terror attacks. Even the Taliban’s attackers reached the parliament. Now what should be done? Should the government revoke the MoU with Pakistan? Should it try other alternatives?

Or should the government resume ex-President Hamid Karzai’s foreign policy approach?  Calling the Monday’s Parliament attack an intrigue of ISI, the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) of the Parliament, called on the government to find out the invisible hands behind the attack. Some of the lawmakers expressed their wonder as how the terrorists succeeded in reaching to the gate of the Parliament. They alleged that some Afghan officials at the behest of ISI officials facilitated the attackers. They said the attack on the Parliament was carried out in reaction to refusal of the NDS-ISI deal by the Parliament. Given the current political and security scenario in the country, the government has no other option but to resume ex-President Hamid Karzai’s policy—to build international pressure on Pakistan to repudiate its support to the Taliban, not to provide too much space to the United States in Afghan foreign policy and maintain a firmer relation with India, a time-tested and trusty worthy friend.

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