Afghanistan – An nu-neighbourly neighbour

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The five Pakistani soldiers that died on the Pak-Afghan border are a reminder of the continued penetration of terrorists through the Durand Line. The Army announced that security forces repelled three attacks on border posts as a result of which ten militants were killed, in addition to the losses on our side. Closing the border along specific crossings such as Torkham clearly achieves little, but the action is necessary given Afghanistan’s consistent anti-Pakistan rhetoric and attitude.

Simply closing the border entry points will not fulfil the ultimate aim of stopping the flow of terrorists across the border, but in light of Afghanistan’s hostility against Pakistan, it is a necessary move to coerce the neighbouring country to the negotiation table. The Afghan government only sent its Pakistan ambassador to the ECO Conference in Islamabad last week as a sign of protest, but this is in no way a uniform policy; India is rapidly becoming a key ally of Afghanistan, and is also reportedly mulling a ‘boots on the ground’ type scenario for Afghanistan. If that happens, Pakistan can expect more proxy warfare from both sides.

To top it all off, Hamid Karzai, former President of Afghanistan, seems committed to continuing his rabid-like hate against Pakistan, and commented on the situation surrounding the border closure, stating that Afghanistan has never, and will never recognise the Durand Line as the official border between the two countries. However, maybe the former President would benefit from a history lesson – The Durand Line was first established as the border between Afghanistan and the Subcontinent in 1896, and had the latter still been a unified country, this is the border it would have had regardless. If ethnicities were to be taken into account, the Punjab state would not have been divided between India and Pakistan. Simply viewing borders through the myopic lens of ethnic ties is really not a practical approach to recognising the principles of statehood.

Pakistan has warned the US of impending disaster in Afghanistan – many in Pakistan, India and other countries closely monitoring the Afghanistan conundrum are of the opinion that the Ashraf Ghani government is dangerously close to crumbling –and has asked it to fulfil its role accordingly. The Pakistani government is not wrong – Afghanistan is a “total mess” and the US does need to play its part in doing something about this.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear – the Durand Line will stay as is, and Afghanistan has no right to question it. Karzai’s rants against Pakistan should not be entertained, as these are nothing beyond empty accusations. Pakistan’s stance of closing its border stands justified as well, seeing as our soldiers lost their lives repelling militants from the other side. Afghanistan must do something about this, or else risk estranging an important ally even further – to the point where this might be irrevocable.

Dawn News

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