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Commentary; Doubting Pakistan

IN a strange twist of events surrounding the Afghan enigma, Pakistan seems to have realigned its foreign policy towards Afghanistan against all odds, having offered support – hitherto unheard of – for the ongoing peace negotiations between Kabul and Taliban. But there is no guarantee Islamabad will be doing more than merely paying lip service to efforts to end the Afghan war.

Islamabad’s abrupt policy realignment has been received with cautious buoyancy in Afghanistan. Afghans are still largely doubtful and skeptic of Pakistan intentions despite the recent signs of rapprochement between the two nations. There is a strong conviction among all Afghans that Pakistan has been playing a double game by harboring terrorists and fueling conflict in Afghanistan.

The excesses and hostilities of Taliban insurgency have put Afghanistan in dire straits. Pakistan may be banking on this desperation, seeing the Afghan peace process as an opportunity to reestablish its influence on a future government in Afghanistan which hinges on the outcome of ongoing peace negotiations in Qatar. That assumption can’t be ruled out considering the clout Pakistan has on Taliban and other insurgent groups serving its cause in the region.

An entente cordiale with Pakistan could augur well for Afghanistan, but caution should be exercised. We have to keep going forward with Taliban negotiations keeping Pakistan’s blandishments in mind. We know how Pakistan was involved in civil war in 1990s in Afghanistan and deceived the Afghan government again and again by claiming to be inclined to changing its strategic depth dogma, but it was all deception. A warm welcome for the visiting chairman of High Council of National Reconciliation doesn’t necessarily signify Pakistan’s policy shift.

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