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Editorial: Pakistan’s Gen. Raheel in Kabul and AfPak security challenges

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Since the entire region is being plagued by militancy, particularly AfPak region therefore the two neighboring countries—Afghanistan and Pakistan need joint mechanism against the common threat—terrorism and extremism. However, unfortunately the two stand poles apart let alone to be on the same page. And more unfortunately the two cannot be on the same page as the two countries are going in opposite directions. The one believes that instability and destabilization of another one is at its political, economic and strategic interests. While the second one believes that first one is not sincere in bringing peace in the region and hence considers itself heavily reliant on it for its peace. Decades have passed and decades will go on, but the acrimony between the two will never vanish until there is a change of heart and change of policies. The people of this troubled country wish Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visit to Kabul on Thursday should herald some positive changes in Kabul-Islamabad ties. Gen. Raheel will meet President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on issues of common interests, with eyes on security challenge.

He also held talks with his Afghan counterpart Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi. Matters pertaining to security were discussed, however if we go into details of such visits their outcomes look visibly equal to zero. Gen. Raheel predecessor, then Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also visited Kabul two times. He visited Kabul for the first time in January 2009 to participate in a tripartite commission composed of senior military representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. Such tripartite commission meetings have been held for over 25 times. But what is the net result? Then he visited Kabul in June 2010 along with Director General of the ISI Ahmad Shuja Pasha. And now it’s Gen. Raheel in Kabul on visit, but a question remains unanswered that whether such meetings have heel the mistrust between the two countries and security situation improved? The blunt answer is “no”. The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Pakistan 20 times, but all in vain. Though the people of the two neighboring countries read, and watch stuff like measures to improve effectiveness security mechanism discussed, security situation in areas along the Durand Line came under discussion, but unfortunately they didn’t hear about any major breakthrough. The amorphous enemy which has been pushing the two countries into abject poverty, political instability and a number of myriad challenges needs to be fought jointly while there is a total absence of any such mechanism and the reason is trust deficit and blame game. Pakistan considers the Afghanistan as its backyard while the latter to unyoke Pakistan’s pressure enhances friendship with India. Should there have been no intrusion from Pakistan, Kabul would have pursued a policy of non-alignment. With Afghanistan and Pakistan increasingly walking separate paths on terrorism, the defense and political ties stalled and the two countries failed yet so far to bury their hatchets. Even Pakistan, which is considered to be the engineer of all troubles for Afghanistan, is now passing through a very much critical phase of its history and there is an increasingly much internal environment and precarious internal dynamics to have created tough security challenges. But the problem is instead of accepting these challenges as the backfires of its own Afghan policies, Islamabad blames Kabul for it. If the situation remains the same, nothing will change for good and security challenges for both will increase.