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Editorial: Declared war

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Warning of turbulent times ahead, the country’s commander-in-chief Ashraf Ghani directed the law enforcement agencies to take concrete steps to deal with any untoward situation as the undeclared war has changed its shape. President Ghani said the country was moving now towards a declared war as the anti-Afghanistan elements were facing isolation. Perhaps, it was a not-so-veiled reference to Pakistan because the neighboring country has long been accused of interference in internal affairs of Afghanistan. Many Afghan officials including the former chief of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) provided evidence to media about involvement of Pakistan in Afghan conflict. Intelligence reports prove that the neighboring country is supporting Afghan insurgent groups as strategic assets.

No doubt that without foreign support the militants could not hold ground against Afghan security forces even for a week. Fall of districts to the Taliban and increase in terror activities are indicators that state actors in the region see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan as a major threat to their national interests. It is a mindset that has not changed despite bloodshed and utter destruction. Islamabad has not realized the folly of actions that is pushing the region towards unending cycle of violence where terrorists would not allow peace to prevail. Strategic depth or use of “good terrorists” as a foreign policy tool is taking tool on the lives of Afghan people.

SIGAR’s recent report provides a glimpse into sacrifices of Afghans in the war that has been imposed on this nation. As many as 5,523 Afghan servicemen were killed in the line of duty in the first eight months of the current year. Afghan security forces suffered a total of 15,000 casualties from January to September 2016—first eight months. No country on the world map has sacrificed so many soldiers and policemen in the war against terrorism till date. High numbers of casualties do not mean that Afghan defense forces are unable to fight terrorists, but the enemies are getting unchecked and continued support.

Those who intended to join the Afghan peace process were either killed or made prisoners. Pakistan has proved itself as main obstacle to peace in Afghanistan. VOA’s report, citing sources in Taliban, has strengthened claims of Afghan authorities that insurgents are controlled by Islamabad directly. According to the report, Pakistan has warned the Taliban leadership about consequences of sideling Islamabad in the peace process. Taliban leaders were asked to leave Pakistan with their family members if they engage in direct talks with Afghan government. Pakistani policymakers saw its dominance diminishing when the Taliban and Afghan government officials held talks in Doha, Qatar.

Meddling of Pakistan in Afghanistan’s affairs will not only prove catastrophic for the neighboring country but also for the region. Islamabad’s anti-Afghanistan policies have damaged Afghan-Pak relations seriously. Pakistan should stop seeing her neighbors as enemies. Only regional cooperation and improved bilateral ties with neighbors can safeguard Pakistan’s interests.