The recent spate of tragic attacks in Kabul have demonstrated an imperative need to strengthen bilateral relations between Afgha¬nis¬tan and Pakistan, to which end the visit of the Afghan security chiefs to Islamabad held great promise. However, the goodwill fostered between the two governments was marred by ensuing allegations against Pakistan by the Pakistani embassy in Kabul regarding involvement in the terrorist attacks.

Initially the delegation was touted as a step in strengthening mutual trust and bilateral engagement by both sides; the Afghani Interior Min¬ister Wais Ahmad Barmak and National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Masoom Stanekzai going so far as corroborating Pakistan’s avowal of cooperation and goodwill. However, the Pakistani embassy, in a contradictory move, negated their statement claiming that no assurances had been given regarding the assertion that the attacks were planned by the Taliban based in Pakistan. This move conveniently comes on the heels of the Trump administrations’ similar accusations, playing into the rhetoric of Pakistan as a haven for terrorists.

In the face of such condemning assertions, and in the spirit of assigning blame it can be countered that the alleged presence of terrorists can be attributed to providing sanctuary to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. It has been repeatedly highlighted that Afghan terrorists tend to morph among the refugees. While on its end, in an effort to promote cooperation between the two countries the Pakistani government on Wednesday decided to extend the stay of over 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in for another two months. In such circumstances, the valid (albeit malicious) solution in the interest of the national security of both countries would be a repatriation of the refugees.

 Pakistan’s efforts towards peace have been awaiting reciprocal actions from the Afghan side in terms of clearance ungoverned spaces on the Afghan side, bilateral border management, controlling poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and initiating Afghan-led and owned political reconciliation in Afghanistan. Infact the Foreign Office has revealed earlier this week that Pakistan handed over 27 individuals suspected of having ties to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network to Afghanistan last year.

A positive bilateral engagement between the two countries will go a long way to further peace in  the region however instead of different departments adopting contradictory approaches, the Afghan government needs to espouse a more coherent stance in dealing with Pakistan and its efforts.