Pakistan has conveyed its sentiments to the US regarding Kabul’s indifference to countering terrorists that have Pakistan in their crosshairs, and the Afghan government’s unwillingness to even address the attacks on Pakistani checkposts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Perhaps the US can step in and change Afghanistan’s unmoving stance against Pakistan, just as it constantly critiques Pakistan. Pakistan will never be free from terrorism until Afghanistan is, and the Afghan government, political parties and military forces have a lot more wrong with them than Pakistan.
Though Pakistan and Afghanistan were close once, with cross-border movement between the two countries a testament to the shared history and an interlinked future, the landlocked country has not treated Pakistan kindly in the last three years. Even countries that are virtually enemies do not display this sort of complete disregard for attacks by terrorists – Pakistan always expresses its condolences when terrorist attacks are conducted on Afghan or even Indian soil. The belligerence on display from the Afghan government deserves more than a slap on the wrist, but given that the country is wracked with problems of its own, closing the border is only making the Afghan government and populace unhappy, and Pakistan cannot risk estranging the western neighbour any further.
Pakistan has made more than its fair share of friendly overtures; on Monday, the Prime Minister ordered that the border crossings along Durand Line be opened immediately as a goodwill gesture. There is little else the Pakistan government can do to repair the damaged relationship between the two countries. The ball is now firmly in Afghanistan’s court – if it wants to stop this spat with Pakistan, it must extend a hand of its own as well.
Afghanistan must try and reciprocate Pakistan’s friendly approach in dealing with matters concerning both countries. The US can make Afghanistan listen where Pakistan cannot, and if it so chooses, the US administration can even force Afghanistan to act against militants acting against Pakistan operating from Afghan territory. Pakistan is the only friendly neighbour that actually understands the pain and destruction related to militant activities on domestic soil, as Afghanistan does. Perhaps it is time for the Afghan government to remove the blinders and face reality – countering terrorism can only be a joint venture, anything else will only be a stop-gap measure. The responsibility of regional security is not Pakistan’s alone, India and Afghanistan need to do their part to reconcile their differences.