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Peace still a long-cherished dream

Afghanistan and Pakistan on Tuesday reiterated their resolve to work together to restore peace. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in Kabul where he held a joint press conference with President Ashraf Ghani. The Afghan President said the war is being imposed on both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also said the two neighboring nations need to fight it off jointly and the enemy of Pakistan is the enemy of Afghanistan. Nawaz Sharif said that he assured Ghani that no enemy of Afghanistan can be a friend of Pakistan. To the extent of words the show looks very promising and beautiful, however, when it comes to ground realities, Haqqani Network has been untouched in Pakistan and Afghan Taliban are not talked about.  Unlike, the ex-President Hamid Karzai, his successor Ghani is tightlipped on Haqqani Network Afghan Taliban and Quetta Shura as under his policy he doesn’t ask Pakistan to go after them militarily rather he eagerly looks forward seeing them on the table of negotiations. This is not a bad idea at all but given that it works out. The Afghan peace process is still a long-cherished dream as the Taliban are increasing their violent activities. Though, China has upped its security interests in the region and a second round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan representatives is expected soon in China, but the problem is the Taliban’s unpredictable nature. Pakistan and China have enjoyed cordial ties ever since whereas Pakistan has no objectives when China is increasing its role in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always remained touchy about India providing reconstruction, military and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and had made it very clear that it regarded the presence of Indian troops or military trainers there as an unacceptable act. While now, when Ghani has suspended a military equipment deal with India, how Pakistan defines this act. Moreover, now that China increases its role in Afghanistan, will it reduce Pakistan’s concerns? China’s main objective in the region is to see militancy ended. And the more China will engage itself in the region, the more Pakistan will be pushed to take a step against the militants. It means the situation is turning for good in the region and what is needed is sincerity replacing mistrust.  Change in Afghanistan will come via Pakistan and China. Even if Afghanistan opens itself more and more and doesn’t talk about Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban, and the Haqqani Network, the situation will never heal until Pakistan does something substantial. The problem is Pakistan launched a huge military operation in North Waziristan, which displaced thousands of tribesmen families, but the end result was peace deal with militants. Pakistan’s army struck the peace deal with a pro-Pakistan Taliban faction led by Maulvi Halim. Telling people that the two governments are on the same page but walking on different paths with different approaches would never restore peace and trust. There is the need for significant and sincere steps to fight extremism and bring peace and stability to the two countries. Without extinguishing the fire that is burning the house of Afghans, Pakistan cannot guarantee peace at its very own house. Without Islamabad’s proactive and supportive role, there is no end to the ongoing war. And if Afghanistan is not asking Pakistan to dump its support to the Afghan Taliban, doesn’t it feel that morally it is obligatory upon Islamabad to do so? Moreover, Ghani’s remark that the enemy of Pakistan is the enemy of Afghanistan has much to ponder over and even if Pakistan doesn’t bite at the opportunity now, it will never have a guy like him in the future where Pakistan will have nothing to do but to wring its hands.

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