Pak-Afghan cooperation

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There has been a visible change in the foreign policy of Pakistan as it has been busy rebuilding ties with its neighbours. A recent development is the reopening of the Pakistani embassy in Jalalabad that was earlier closed due to security reasons and undue interference by the governor of Nangarhar province. The development will help bridge the trust deficit between both the neighbouring countries. A thaw in relations came due to the end of the blame game between Islamabad and Kabul over treatment of militants. Both states need to adopt a joint strategy for the elimination of terrorists. They also need to increase economic and security cooperation to promote regional peace and stability. On its part, Islamabad has understood that a stable Afghanistan is in its own interest and efforts should be made for bringing peace in Kabul while targeting all terrorist outfits including the Haqqani Network.

Although the leadership of both countries is clear in its stance over bilateral cooperation and elimination of terrorists, yet it is a big challenge for both the states. The mess of 40 years could not be cleared in just a few days; rather it would take time to bridge the trust deficit and break the networks of the militants. There is a need for a strong resolve and joint counterterrorism strategy to purge both states of all militants. The re-opening of Pthe akistani embassy will also help check the infiltration of militants.

Since decades, Afghanistan has been witnessing violence in all extreme forms. It has become a playing field for the Afghan Taliban and other factions of militant groups like IS. Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) has time and again had reiterated that terrorism is a common enemy and a joint approach is needed to combat this menace. While using its influence on the Taliban to nudge them towards talks, Pakistan needs to ask them to refrain from escalating tension. Pakistan should adopt a consistent policy and should not leave the job half done as the spoilers of the peace process are already in action. Pakistan should avoid a contradictory role that could prove a failure in the end. Pakistan’s role is critical in rooting out terrorism from the region. It has long been accused that on the one hand ,Pakistan sees the Taliban as a strategic asset and proxy to promote the country’s interests and help it counterweigh India’s perceived influence in Afghanistan. On the other hand, it talks of having only marginal influence with the group. Pakistan needs to declare all militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan terrorists. There should not be any discretion on the basis of using militants as strategic assets. Islamabad has to use its influence to bring all those factions of Taliban, who are ready to lay down athe rm to the negotiating table. Besides, all stakeholder states must play their role for the elimination of militancy instead of indulging in proxy wars to gain vested interests. Pakistan should show the Afghan government and the Afghan people that as a good neighbour and a sincere friend Pakistan is there to help Afghanistan in any way possible to bring an end to wthe ar there, ensure peace all over the country, and be an active partner in its short and long-term rehabilitation.

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