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The Killid Group
Af-Pak relations at a lowWritten by Reza Gulkohi
Sunday, 18 December 2011 10:20
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Almi, a small Pakistani extremist group, has claimed responsibility for the unprecedented sectarian attacks on Ashura.
In what can be described only as offensive Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik thanked extremist groups, which would include the Pakistan Taleban and the Jhangvi, for not attacking Shia mourners in his country.
The Pakistan Taleban was quick to distance itself from the Dec. 6 bombings in Afghanistan.
Was Malik condoning the Afghan attack by the Jhangvi?
Mir Ahmad Seerat, a lecturer at Kabul University, wonders how Pakistan could close its eyes to attacks that kill ordinary Afghans just because anti-US and NATO feelings are running high.
President Hamid Karzai has reacted strongly to the selective targeting of Shia worshippers by the Jhangvi as a "declaration of enmity" on all Afghans. He also said, "Jhangvi army resides in Pakistan. The Afghan government will pursue the issue with all its power and international support, and will not forgive the shedding of blood of its children."
The Pakistan foreign ministry has requested the Afghan government to give evidence the Ashura attacks were carried out by a Pakistan-based group.
Talking to Taleban
Islamabad has denied media reports that the Pakistan government has started discussions with the Pakistan Taleban. Political observers think it would be in Islamabad's interests to reach out to the Taleban when its relations with the US are strained.
Relations between Afghanistan and its western allies on one side and its southern neighbour on the other have hit an all time low.
The US has had to vacate the Shamsi air base, southwest of Quetta.
Feriba Hosainee, a student of political science at Kateb University, believes "Pakistan should reset its relations with Afghanistan on the basis of goodwill and good neighbourliness so politics does not come in between the two countries."
Pakistan called its ambassadors from Afghanistan and Europe for a meeting on Dec. 14 to review foreign policy in the wake of the recent developments. Pakistan boycotted the 2nd Bonn conference on Afghanistan, Dec 5, in protest against last month's NATO airstrike.
Ahmad Sayeedi, political analyst, believes Pakistan has to deal with a changed situation. "Pakistan always exploited Afghan insecurity. Now Afghanistan has found support from the international community, which is putting pressure on Pakistan to combat terrorism."