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The Killid Group
Talking tough with PakistanWritten by Mohammad Raza Gulkohi
Sunday, 09 October 2011 12:40
The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani has taken relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan to an all-time low. Have ties gone to a point of no return?
Political analyst Ahmad Saeedi is of the opinion that Islamabad has always used Kabul as a pawn in its relations with the US. It arbitrarily closed the border checkpoint at Torkham last month - halting military and civilian traffic - as Washington turned the screws on Pakistan for its continued support to the Haqqani network.
According to Saeedi, it is beyond the Afghan foreign ministry or MoFA's power to deal with Pakistan's intransigence. The US administration has had to take Islamabad to task after recent suicide attackers breached high security walls in Kabul to target US establishments.
Political expert Abbas Mohammadi comments: "Tensions that existed latently between US and Pakistan in the last one year has been unveiled now". According to him, Washington has no doubt that Pakistan does very little to combat terrorism in its territory. Neither is Islamabad in a position to conduct military operations against the Haqqani network, which it is clear has the support of the ISI, the shadowy military intelligence in Pakistan.
But Washington pulled back from pushing relations with Islamabad to a breaking point last week when President Barack Obama said the intelligence was not very clear on the exact nature of the ISI's support for the Haqqani network.
Cat and mouse game
Addressing a public meeting in the province of Punjab on Oct. 1, the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani claimed the statement by Obama was a "victory for the Pakistani nation, political parties as well as the government's policy of reconciliation" which had united to face down the US.
Kabul has not backed down. The government has blamed Islamabad for the killing of Rabbani, Karzai's chief peace negotiator with the Taleban.
Afghanistan has submitted documents related to Rabbani's assassination to the Pakistani embassy in Kabul to prove that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan.
The strain in relations led to the cancellation of a visit to Afghanistan by the Pakistan prime minister. A peace commission summit and meetings of US, Pakistan and Afghan officials in Kabul were suspended.
Janan Musazai, spokesman of MoFA, while confirming the strain in relations, added that the Afghan government was, however, making efforts to keep up amicable ties and solve the challenges between the two countries.
The deteriorating diplomatic relations between Islamabad and Kabul has had another fall out. Pakistan has resumed rocket attacks on the border provinces. Public opinion has turned against Pakistan for attacking unarmed villagers who have had to flee to safety.
What can Afghanistan do in the face of such provocation?
Political analysts are of the opinion that land-locked Afghanistan is more vulnerable to Pakistan's threats. Thus efforts should be made to avoid tensions. For Kabul there cannot be a military solution. Diplomatic channels should be kept open whatever the provocation, they say.
Meanwhile, Mahmood Saiqal, an expert in international relations, describes the strain in relations between the US and Pakistan as "unprecedented". "The existing tension between Pakistan and US is unprecedented," he says while appealing to the international community to increase pressure on Pakistan which has caused "lots of loss as a result of hostility" to Afghanistan.
Haroon Mir, political analyst, calls Pakistan the "source of all problems in Afghanistan".
In his opinion Karzai did right to rethink his strategy for long term peace in the country by closing the door on the Taleban in a crucial advisory meeting in Kabul on Sep. 28.
The plain-speaking has worked with Pakistan. Prime Minister Gillani has appealed to Karzai to set aside differences and unite against a common enemy. Talking to the media he said, "Specific groups are there seeking to destabilise Afghanistan and expect Karzai to be a puppet for them. Instead, we should be united to thwart their conspiracies and plots."