With only one and a half year left in the scheduled pull out of the US and Nato troops from Afghanistan, there is no concrete evidence available to suggest that the Afghan government is ready for the switch over and that its newly established forces had acquired the capability to ensure peace and security in the country. The much hyped behind-the-scene parleys with the Taliban seem to have gone nowhere, as is evident from the denial of such talks by their spokesman.

Similarly, the much desired rapprochement between the Taliban and Karzai government, and the Taliban and their foes in the north, remains elusive. These are very dangerous signs as far as the prospects of peace returning to Afghanistan after the US-Nato pull out are concerned.

The USA, which in the recent past tried to negotiate with the Taliban without the participation of Pakistan, soon realised the futility of the effort and had to revert to it to move the process forward.

In the same vein, the trilateral talks between the USA, Pakistan and Afghanistan held at London and Brussels have failed to produce tangible results. The main objective of the meetings was to narrow down differences between the two neighbouring countries and bring them together to work for an amicable settlement of the Afghan imbroglio.

But the warm handshakes and smiles exchanged at Brussels have evaporated in the thin air after President Hamid Karzai once again raised the long dead issue of the Durand Line. It came at a time when joint and concerted efforts were needed by the leadership of both the countries to promote and strengthen the prospects of peace and security in Afghanistan, and Pakistan and South Asia.

Unfortunately, little does President Karzai realise that he cannot change history and geographical realities.

The realities are: Afghanistan and Pakistan are not only neighbours, but also have deep-rooted historical bonds, besides sharing a common religion and brotherly feelings among their populations. Then Pakistan has stood by Afghanistan in times of need; it has hosted more than three million Afghan refugees during the Cold War and suffered enormously from its fallout. More so, successive governments in Pakistan have always gone out of their way to cement ties with whoever was ruling Afghanistan, particularly with President Karzai.

Equally regrettable is Karzai’s call to the Afghan Taliban to turn their guns at Pakistan, whom it sees as the cause of all that has gone wrong in Afghanistan. These convulsions are signs of a frustrated and desperate man, who sees no future for himself in the country’s political arena in future.

Needless to say, most of the Afghan people and Taliban consider him as a US puppet and, probably, Karzai is mindful of the fact that he cannot survive after the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan. However, it is necessary to add that, in the recent past, he has been accusing the US of being in league with the Taliban against him.

History is witness to the fact that puppets cannot be the real leaders and their existence is only possible till the time the props on which they stand are not withdrawn. With the US now poised to leave, those props are being pulled out.

Having said that, the recurring attacks on Pakistan’s border posts from Afghanistan, including the one on Monday in which five FC men were injured, speak volumes about the antics of a frustrated man like Karzai.

The Pakistani troops have been exercising restraint so far and rightly so. However, a formal protest has been lodged through diplomatic channels by Pakistan over these unprovoked attacks. Our Foreign Office spokesman while briefing the media said: “In several high level interactions, the leadership of Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed on the imperatives of a mechanism for an effective border management for the mutual benefit of the two countries.”

Nevertheless, Karzai’s vacillating behaviour has not only been a cause of concern for Pakistan, but also for the US and its allies. Diplomatic sources believe that much of the time during the London and Brussels trilateral meetings was consumed by hostile propaganda and rhetoric against Pakistan by the Kabul government, which evidently had no firm basis.

Karzai was thoroughly exposed in front of his mentors. The participants of the conference tried their best to impress upon him the desirability of exercising restraint and mending fences with Pakistan. However, those efforts have hardly had any positive impact on the President’s mindset and only a few days after the Brussels meeting, he has resumed his anti-Pakistan diatribe.

Hostility against Pakistan, or keeping it detached, from any arrangement designed to choreograph an end to strife in Afghanistan is bound to boomerang and harm the interests of the neighbouring countries. Peace in Afghanistan is also essential to exploit the economic potential that exists in the Central Asian Republics, particularly the energy resources and usher in an era of shared economic prosperity and lasting peace.

The writer is a freelance columnist.