Pakistan a suspicious brother
The tense relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan is not a recent story. There is a history and without a credible history, a people cannot develop a historical consciousness. There are several grounds which bind the brother states together but there are also numerous reasons of the animosities. Since the inception of Pakistan, neighbouring partner has shifted her loyalty various times.
Afghan government turned down Pakistan's recognition for being a usurper on Durand line and opposed Pakistan's entry to UN. Thus, The fear of India was reinforced by the Afghan attitude. In the 1940s, Kabul had asked the British to let "their" (Kabul's) Pashtun tribes decide whether they want to accede to Afghanistan or to become independent, Pakistan was not even an option. But, historically according to the treaty of Rawalpindi (1919), "The Afghan government accepts the Indo-Afghan frontier accepted by the late Amir (Abdur Rahman, as decided in 1893)". At the same time, the Pashtun nationalist leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who had supported the Congress against the British, while the Kabul government was close to India, that is why he utterred the last words to his former ally Gandhi: "You have thrown us to the wolves". Borders skirmishes have been experienced twice in 1955 and 1962 following diplomatic severety.
In the period (1947-1980s), Afghanistan is found accomplice in sparking "Greater Pakhtunistan" sentiment because 27 million pashtuns live in pakistan contrary to 12 million in brother country. In turn, in 1970s Pakistan sponsored Afghan Islamists to rebut sardar Daud's border penetration. Her intelligence agency is alleged for sponsoring anti state actors at pakistan's western border. Pakistan also claims that the Afghan land has been used against her by the Indians very often. Where India and Pakistan can agree on one thing: neither wants the other one around. Therefore, each side wants Kabul to be an enemy of the enemy. Thus, crests and troughs signify their relations.
On the other hand, the "Nuclear state" is not as sincere as it portrays. Abroad the border, the country is held responsible for instigating discerning voices against communist heads of government. The military response to the historical havoc of Soviet Invasion and its ruthless disintegration at the cost of war, terror and uncertainty pose threat to Pakistan's innocence. Variations in supporting different sides depending on her interests have made the secret of pakistan inventing militias in the region, an open hearing now. Pakistan itself paid for the proceedings across the border. Even after thousands of death toll, while Pakistan had become a veritable killing field, its commitment to the American-led war against Al Qaeda and Taliban was under acute suspicion. The Afghans being fed with foreign agendas have almost turned against Pakistan. There exist a popular mistrust of Pakistan among a majority of Afghans. Despite alot of similarities, Pakistan couldn't build strong links with different Afghan factions and ethnic groups. Honestly speaking, if there are some external propaganda propellers but there must be a substance to raise upon hate against Pakistan, Why have we provided that reason of hatred? Call it a paranoia, denial or intellectual paralysis, but we have failed to gel our brotherhood.
We don't know where are we heading? Pakistan was catapulted to the centre stage in post-9/11, Islamabad remained partner with US in dismantling Alqaeda and Taliban but in the mean time they built a "Shura" from the Taliban in Balochistan also. Pakistan has a natural "in" with Taliban. It has been involved in their affairs since long. The capture of a string of Taliban leaders including Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in 2010 could not all be accidental as the Taliban that time were coming to dialogue table against our wish and will. Pakistan fully supported the idea of talks between the Taliban and Karzai but on its own terms, which is why Taliban used Saudi Arabia as a venue. Pakistan's interventions sabotaged Afghan peace process in the past when Karzai attempted to negotiate with Taliban in a "minus Pakistan" formula organising Afghan Peace Jirga in 2010 and Afghan High peace council (HPC). When Burhanuddin Rabbani, the first head of the HPC, was assassinated in september 2011, Kabul blamed the Quetta shura (indirectly Pakistan) for the assassination. After lossing "much" in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have to withdraw from the race "Who is the boss?".
Pakistan is at the crossroads of political destiny. It cannot afford to refuse to the Americans neither it can risk shift to Chinese bloc completely. Pakistan's foreign minister's recent statement about Taliban "They wear simple dress but are very smart" reminds me famous political lexicon of the American president Theodore Roosevelt, "speak softly and carry a big stick" and they are doing it.
The Pak Afghan relations have been a roller coaster ride but never reached the pitch of antagonism that relations with India did. For durable peace in Afghanistan whatever threats to the stakes be, Pakistan must withstand pressure. We couldn't resist to Collin Powel calling Musharraf asking "you are with us or against us". There is no more room for rentiership and clientelistic behaviour. ISI should have put an end to the "Yes, but" approach which has been the hallmark of Pakistani foreign policy towards afghanistan since 2001. Islamabad must not over expect from China, as it didn't help pakistan in 1971 crisis saying, "China would not pull Pakistan out of the holes it insisted on digging for itself". Chinese are businessmen and they will not necessarily deteriorate their goodwill and soft power for anybody including Pakistan.
As the Arab spring was a misnomer invented by media, the media outlets and personnels, both the international and regional, must be careful in glorifying either Taliban or Ghani government and should halt baseless exaggeration of the victories of either party. Lets debate on who won in Afghanistan, Taliban or Americans? in next episode.