A Joint Commission of Pakistan and Afghanistan was formed on April 16 this year for facilitating and promoting reconciliation and peace which will include all the Afghans so that whenever the US and NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan, the situation in Afghanistan does not turn into another destruction or civil war. In this regard, it is for the first time that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s visit to Kabul also included Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Director General Inter Service Intelligence, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other high officials in whose presence negotiations took place. Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the parleys as “historic”, saying that “the two countries stand together as they have shared destinies.”
Notably, Pakistan’s civil and military high officials have repeatedly been saying that a stable, viable and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan. On February 1, 2010, while making clear that his country had no interest in “controlling” Afghanistan, Gen. Kayani had reiterated that Pakistan wants a peaceful, stable and friendly Afghanistan, adding, “We cannot wish for Afghanistan anything that we don’t wish for Pakistan.”
On April 1, last year, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while giving a statement on the concluded Pak-US strategic dialogue also said that Islamabad “has conveyed to the US that it has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan to which the country could not remain oblivious.” He further explained, “Pakistan does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan…we want a stable, peaceful and friendly Afghanistan.”
In the recent past, Washington Post reported that India and Pakistan are “competing for influence in Afghanistan.” The post further elaborated, “For US officials, India’s increasing presence in Afghanistan is causing new security and diplomatic problems in a country where more than 1,000 American troops have died…Washington also fears upsetting the delicate balance in its relations with Islamabad.”
As a matter of fact, controversy exists between New Delhi and Islamabad because of difference in interests of the two nuclear countries in Afghanistan. If Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, India desires instability in that country.
In this respect, by availing the golden opportunity of the 9/11, India left no stone unturned in getting its hold in Afghanistan under the cover of the US-led NATO forces. In this regard, stiff resistance of the Taliban militants against the occupying forces created unending lawlessness in the country which has become a most suitable place for New Delhi so as to prepare conspiracy in order to fulfill its secret strategic designs against Iran, China and particularly Pakistan. Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, secret agencies like Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have well-established their networks in Afghanistan.
Especially, India has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates, situated in Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandhar and other sensitive parts of the Pak-Afghan border. It has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip on the country, and to get strategic depth against Pakistan. New Delhi has not only increased its military troops in the counry, but has also decided to set up cantonments.
Indian RAW, based in Afghanistan has been sending well-trained agents in Pakistan, who have joined the ranks and files of the Taliban. Posing themselves as the Pakistan Taliban, they not only attack the check posts of Pakistan’s security forces, but also target schools and mosques. They are continuously conducting suicide attacks and targeted killings in our country. In this context, India has also arranged some Madrassas in Afghanistan where highly motivated and RAW-paid militants are being trained with the help of Indian so-called Muslims scholars. Now, Indian support to insurgency in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Baloch separatism has become a routine matter.
Besides backing subversive acts in Pakistan, India is also in collusion with the Balochi separatist leaders who have taken shelters in Afghanistan. For example, Akber Bugti’s grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti has been operating against Pakistan from Kabul. On July 23, 2008, in an interview with the BBC, Brahmdagh Bugti had stated that they “have the right to accept foreign arms and ammunition from anywhere including India.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had repeatedly indicated that Islamabad has strong evidence of Indian intervention in Pakistan, and the same would be shown to the foreign countries.
Apart from Indian investment in order to achieve secret designs against Pakistan, drug and kidnapping are some other source of Indian income. According to an estimate, world’s 90% heroin is cultivated in Afghanistan. So money earned through drug-smuggling and hostage-takings is utilised in buying weapons, being sent to the foreign agents and the insurgents in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities due to Indian influence.
In the past, some American officials had also suggested to engage India in Af-Pak strategy. But while realsing the ground realties, a shift occured in the US strategy. In this connection, on September 20, 2009, the then NATO commander, Gen. McChrystal had clearly revealed: “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan including significant development efforts…is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.”
Last year, during his visit to India, US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, while discussing Afghanistan with Indian leadership, had urged India to be transparent with Pakistan about their activities in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, to what extent, India has been creating lawlessness in Afghanistan by using Afghan soil for terrorist activities against Pakistan as well as Iran could be judged from the fact that on January 16, 2010, three foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of each country, ensuring that their territories were not used for activities detrimental to each other’s interests.
However, unlike India, Pakistan has been paying a huge price in the war against terrorism in relation to Afghanistan. It has faced huge losses such as political instability, financial crisis, social turmoil, human casualties and collateral damage owing to a continued wave of suicide attacks in wake of a continued war in Afghanistan.
In this context, on April 11, this year, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari stated that war in Afghanistan was destabilising Pakistan and seriously undermining efforts to restore its democratic institutions and economic prosperity. While pointing to widespread concerns in Pakistan at the slow pace of efforts to end the Afghan conflict, he indicated that some US politicians showed limited understanding of the impact of American policies. Taking cognizance of the implications of the deteriorated situation of Afghanistan on Pakistan, during a recent visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Ankara, a Pakistani official revealed on April 14, 2011 that Pakistan would back a plan to allow the Taliban to open a political office in Turkey to help with talks to end the war in Afghanistan, while Turkey, which has hosted talks aimed at building trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has replied that it is allowing the establishment of a diplomatic presence for the Taliban on its soil.
Nevertheless, unlike India, Pakistan also shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with Afghanistan.
In fact, India has illegitimate interests in Afghanistan; hence it is involved in illegitimate activities because instability in Afghanistan favours Indian secret goals. While on the other side, Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, which is not possible due to Indian presence in that country including a prolonged war of the US-led NATO forces with the Taliban. Therefore, Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, having legitimate concerns in that country.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.