Uncurbed Paranoia

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Mohammed Umer Daudzai recently penned an article that got featured in the New York Times where he voiced serious concerns over Ashraf Ghani’s foreign policy with regards to Pakistan. A former interior minister of Afghanistan and having previously served as an ambassador to Iran and Pakistan, there is no denying the fact that the individual is certainly well placed to comment on the current state of affairs; however, at the same time one cannot help but notice the uncurbed paranoia that is prevalent throughout the piece.

In short, the ex-ambassador feels that the current Afghan government is placing all its eggs in one basket and is foolish to assume that there will be a shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy with regards to Afghanistan. Speaking from his personal experience of working with the Pakistan administration and taking us through Pakistan Army’s history of harboring militants, the author fails to take into account the radical change that has taken place in the state of affairs. Moreover, Mr. Daudzai made claims of Pakistan having its own ulterior motives and that its response has been largely tactical and self-serving. To solidify his argument, he further stated that the Pakistani government now wants to wash its hands of the terrorism problem by claiming that the TTP has a sanctuary along the Afghan border and that Pakistan plans on expelling Afghan refugees under the National Action Plan without any regard for the burden the Afghan government will have to face.

With all due respect, both of the above claims are perhaps a little uninformed. It is a fact that the TTP has its hideouts in Afghanistan just like the Afghan Taliban has found refuge in Pakistan. Both the governments are cognizant of this fact and have pledged to go after both the militant groups. Moreover, as far the repatriation of the Afghan refugees is concerned; the Pakistani government has recently shelved its year-end plan of sending the refugees across the border as it is an issue that requires a lot more time. As a matter of fact, earlier this month a delegation from Afghanistan visited Pakistan to discuss the issue of refugees and their repatriation where they decided to form a joint commission in order to chalk-out a game plan. Therefore, it seems like the Pakistan government is taking the Afghan administration into confidence with regards to whatever they decide on the persisting refugee crisis.

Moving on to the ex-ambassador’s concerns about the Pakistan Army continuing its use of militant groups as strategic assets, there is a need to realize that things have changed significantly with worsening internal security situation in Pakistan. If one has been following developments recently, with COAS Raheel Sharif leading from the front when it comes to tackling terrorism in the urban centres of the country (Karachi operation); there is undeniably a departure from the tactics the Pakistan Army deployed in the past. At last, Mr. Daud is skeptical about the possibility of ‘fruitful’ talks between the Afghan government and Taliban and feels that Ashraf Ghani should instead focus on consolidating the Afghan state by strengthening its institutions; nonetheless, he needs to bear in mind that the Afghan Taliban is still a force to reckon with and poses serious threats to the writ of the state, therefore, dialogue is the only way forward.

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  • Murtaza Ehsan

    While Mr. Umar is concerned about how the Afghan Govt. will deal with the refugee situation, he needs to take into consideration that Pakistan itself is embroiled in conflict and has too much on it’s plate already.

  • Khaled Hossain

    Being cautious is a different thing, but the author is right. The ex-ambassador sounded extremely paranoid. Things have escalated to such an extent that both countries have no other choice but to join hands in order to eradicate terrorism.

  • Omar Farooque

    Mr. Daudzai has every right to be sceptical. However, General Raheel Sharif has been leading by example and has taken initiatives that have helped convince the concerned
    countries about Pakistan’s resolve in curbing terrorism.

  • Salman Azeem

    Pakistan has been more than understanding with regards to the refugee issue. Every country needs to look out for itself and needs to put it’s citizens first.

  • Zafar Ahmed

    Valid points. The diplomat has failed to factor in the impact of the regime change in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s dynamic security and political landscape. Dwelling in the past can only take bilateral relations so far.

  • Muhammad Iqbal Saahu

    I came across his article and to be honest, it seemed more like a paranoid rant by the opposition party in Afghanistan than a factual account of events. He needs to update his knowledge on the counter terrorism measures taken by Pakistan in response to Peshawar attack and the Pak-Afghan cooperation in this regard.

  • Muzaffar Sheikh

    It is surprising that an ex ambassador to Pakistan and a former interior minister is ill informed regarding Pak-Afghan cooperation on refugees. On March 9, in a meeting led by Governor KP with nine-member delegation headed by Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to device a methodology for documentation of unregistered refugees in the country. There are no such plans of “expelling refugees” as mentioned in his article. The Afghan government also acknowledges the fact that Pakistan has been a gracious host of these refugees for the past 30 years and continues to be one.

  • Riaz Bhatti

    Few points that I would like to share:

    1. No doubt, Mr Mohammad Umar Daudzai remained on good posts
    during his service as Interior Minister of Afghanistan and ambassador
    to Iran and Pakistan. However, his arguments about Pak-Afghan
    relations and doubting Pakistan’s sincerity are outdated and out of
    context.

    2. The regional geo-political situation is rapidly changing
    especially after mass withdrawal of NATO/US forces and coming of new
    Afghan President, who is very keen to promote friendly relations with
    Pakistan as he knows this reality that Pakistan is a major stake
    holder in the region and permanent stability in Afghanistan is only
    possible by making Pakistan friendly not unfriendly.

    3. To say, that Pakistan has taken only tactical steps or
    steps primarily aimed at improving its international relations and its
    own security is very erroneous and misleading comments and denying
    the very truth that Pakistan and Afghanistan stability are interlinked
    due to their close geographical, societal and culture and religious
    linkages. Only stable Afghanistan can guarantee stable Pakistan and
    vice versa.

    4. Pakistan’s sincerity in fighting the menace of terrorism in
    the Pak-Afghan border area by sacrifices made by its officers,
    soldiers and civilians should not be doubted, as it will breed
    contempt. Pakistan is carrying out military operation against all
    terrorist groups including Haqqani network and the ongoing operation
    is the proof of this claim.

    5. Pakistan is not expelling Afghan refugees rather only
    unregistered refugees are being taken to task. It is the right of
    every government to take action against illegal immigrants. Moreover,
    on a number of occasions Afghan immigrants have been found to be
    involved in crimes and terrorist activities. Governments of Pakistan
    and Afghanistan are also discussing the peaceful return of Afghan
    refugees by the end of 2015.

    6. The writer’s view of strategic depth is completely outdated
    concept as Pakistan is a nuclear state and no country has the courage
    to take aggressive action against Pakistan. Hence, now the terminology
    of ‘Strategic Depth’ is obsolete and should be buried permanently.

    7. The author’s point of view about Pakistan’s concerns
    regarding Pashtun or Baluch separatists is totally baseless. The issue
    of Pustunistan is only idea of selected group of people being
    propagated on behalf of hostile elements and it has no public support
    in Pustuns dominated areas. As far as Baluchs are concerned, it is
    India that funding and supporting Baluch insurgents by using Afghan
    land, hence author should ask Afghan authorities to shut down the
    Indian consulates in Pak-Afghan border areas, which are being used as
    front offices for handling terrorist activities in Pakistan. Pakistan
    has also presented proofs of Indian involvement to Afghan President.

  • Mr. Mohammed Umer Daudzai, former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, in his op-ed piece in New York Times has requested Pakistan to show compassion and should not send Afghan refugees back to their homes. But at the same time like all other former Afghan officials he also expresses doubts that Pakistan can be a good friend of Afghanistan. This kind of conflicting messages has undermined the efforts to build good strategic, cultural and trade relations with Afghanistan. Mr. Daudzai forgets that despite being a neighbor of Afghanistan, former Afghan governments have always supported other countries resolutions that were detrimental to Pakistan’s interest in multilateral platforms even before the start of Soviet occupation of his country. So now he should support building of mutual trust and confidence. We support the efforts of President Ashraf Ghani to build stronger relations with Pakistan and we feel it is a good foreign policy for regional peace and stability. Pakistani government seems to be very serious to allow Afghan government to lead the efforts of political reconciliation and nation building. It is a win win for the region.

    By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

  • Mr. Mohammed Umer Daudzai, former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, in his op-ed piece in New York Times has requested Pakistan to show compassion and should not send Afghan refugees back to their homes. But at the same time like all other former Afghan officials he also expresses doubts that Pakistan can be a good friend of Afghanistan. This kind of conflicting messages has undermined the efforts to build good strategic, cultural and trade relations with Afghanistan. Mr. Daudzai forgets that despite being a neighbor of Afghanistan, former Afghan governments have always supported other countries resolutions that were detrimental to Pakistan’s interest in multilateral platforms even before the start of Soviet occupation of his country. So now he should support building of mutual trust and confidence. We support the efforts of President Ashraf Ghani to build stronger relations with Pakistan and we feel it is a good foreign policy for regional peace and stability. Pakistani government seems to be very serious to allow Afghan government to lead the efforts of political reconciliation and nation building. It is a win win for the region.

    By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi