Will the Taliban opt for peace? [1 of 2]

In the 1965 war between Indian and Pakistan, Afghan King had the intent to support India against Pakistan, ostensibly to gain India’s active support in creating an independent Pashtunistan at the expense of Pakistan’s sovereignty and independence.
The same Afghan students who were the cream of Afghan intelligentsia told me that no doubt the king was in favour of India against Pakistan, however, the people did have a strong emotional attachment towards Pakistan, which made the king desist from his intention of rendering active support to India in the 1965 war.
But it were also the same Afghan students who always claimed that all the areas upto Sindh border were part of Pashtunistan and as such they had every right to claim it back from Pakistan.
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 UPS & DOWNS OF PAK-AFGHAN RELATIONS

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by Nayyar Hashmey

·

While I upload this article by Zafar Hilaly (whom I know since so many years; it was the time he was serving as First Secretary of the Pakistan Embassy in Prague, capital of the then Republic of Czechoslovakia and I was doing my doctorate), an Urdu couplet started reverberating in my mind:

Abb wo bhi kaeh rhe haen
Be nang-o-Naam hae
Ye janta tau ghar ko
Lutata kabhi na maen

(Even he too is saying,
I am of no worth.
Had I known this before,
I would never have offered him
My home for refuge)

The story of Afghan-Pakistan relations is mostly a love-hate story.

Both countries hving a common faith, historically have been having parallel resonance as far as the politics in the Indo Pak subcontinent is concerned, and inspite of the fact that Afghan raiders (whether kings, the rulers, regional warlords or tribal chieftans) had the prime objective of scratching as much of gold as possible from the famous gold bird called Hindostan, yet the Muslims here in the area now called Pakistan mostly favoured the attackers merely because they were Muslims.

They in this position thus stood opposite to their own countrymen merely because attackers were co-religionists and it were these feelings of Indian Muslims for the Afghan brothers in faith that made the task of invaders much easier.

Later during the Raj again, all Muslims whether from Afghanistan or from British annexed territories in India’s north western borderlands, mostly coalesced against the British either overtly or at times covertly. However, despite these feelings of Muslim fraternity, Afghan rulers mostly played realpolitik, they sometimes concluded peace deals with the Hindu Rajas, and sometime with Muslim/Sikh rulers of Hindostan, either by accepting reparations from their local adversaries [who were mostly Hindus or later the Muslims followed by Sikhs and the British]. In all such politico-fiscal deals, they mercilessly negated the wishes of Muslims of both Hindostan as well as of Afghanistan.

Wind forward and we reach 1947, when Pakistan inherited the long time historical position. Yet at the time of Pakistan’s admission to the UN as an independent sovereign state, under orders of the former King Zahir Shah, Afghanistan was only country in the world to oppose Pakistan’s admission to the UN as an independent, sovereign state.

In this context, I am to recall my encounters with fellow Afghan students who were then sudying for their higher studies at various campuses of the Prague University and the Schools of Engineering and Technology.

In the 1965 war between Indian and Pakistan, Afghan King had the intent to support India against Pakistan, ostensibly to gain India’s active support in creating an independent Pashtunistan at the expense of Pakistan’s sovereignty and independence.

The same Afghan students who were the cream of Afghan intelligentsia told me that no doubt the king was in favour of India against Pakistan, however, the people did have a strong emotional attachment towards Pakistan, which made the king desist from his intention of rendering active support to India in the 1965 war.

But it were also the same Afghan students who always claimed that all the areas upto Sindh border were part of Pashtunistan and as such they had every right to claim it back from Pakistan.

It is in this backdrop of events and mood in certain groups of the Afghanistan that the relations between the two have at times been negatively affected by issues such as

(1) the Durand Line
(2) 1978–to present war i.e. Mujahideen, Afghan refugees
(3) Taliban insurgency and border skirmishes and (4) the growing influence of India in Afghanistan.

Let’s first take issue of the Durand line:

Afghan Pak border was formally delineated and established after the 1893 Agreement between Mortimer Durand of British India and Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan for fixing the limit of their respective spheres of influence.

Abdur Rahman Khan (between 1830 to 1844 – October 1, 1901) was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. He was the third son of Mohammad Afzal Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan. Abdur Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government after the disarray that followed the second Anglo-Afghan war. He became known as The Iron Amir.

The single-page agreement, which contains seven short articles, was signed by Durand and Khan, agreeing not to exercise political interference beyond the frontier line between Afghanistan and what was then British India. Pakistan inherited this agreement after India’s partition in 1947 but there has never been a formal agreement between Islamabad and Kabul.

Sir Henry Mortimer Durand (14 February 1850 – 8 June 1924) was a British diplomat and civil servant of colonial British India.Mortimer Durand negotiated with Abdur Rahman Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, the frontier between modern-day Pakistan the successor state of British India and Afghanistan. This line, the Durand Line, is named after him and remains the international boundary between Afghanistan and modern-day Pakistan, officially recognized by most nations but an ongoing point of contention between the two countries.

During the 1980s, the Durand Line was heavily used by Afghan refugees fleeing the Communist take-over of their country. Pakistan hosted over 3 million Afghans at various refugee camps, mainly around Peshawar in the KPK province.

Pakistan also became the major training ground for the 250,000 Mujahideen fighters who began crossing into Afghanistan on daily basis to wage war against the Soviet-backed Afghan government and the invading Soviet forces.

After the defeat of the USSR in Afghanistan, a highly unstable situation arose. Different Mujahideen factions started fighting with each other. The law and order situation was worsened to such an extent that nobody was safe.

It was this chaotic environment in the post war Afghanistan that in the 1990s, led to emergence of the Taliban government. The Taliban established friendly relations with Pakistan. However, after the overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001 by the United States and Allies, Afghan-Pakistan relations once again started worsening.

Relations became more strained after the Afghan government began openly accusing Pakistan of using its ISI in aiding the Taliban and other militants. Pakistan denied the allegation and it continues to do so, yet there are number of reports about the Afghanistan–Pakistan skirmishes, which usually occur when army soldiers are in hot pursuit chasing insurgents from each side of the border cross the border back and forth. This leads to tensions between the two states, especially after hearing reports of civilian casualties.

Inspite of this sometime love, sometime hate relationship, both countries, geographically as well as economically are so intricately bound to each other that they remain tied together. It is this reality on ground that motivated the two to sign in July 2010, a memorandum of understanding called the Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

The two states also signed an MoU for the construction of rail tracks in Afghanistan to connect with Pakistan Railways, which has been in the making since at least 2005.

In October 2010, the long-awaited APTTA was finally inked. It envisages each nation’s shipping trucks into the others; Afghan trucks will be allowed to drive through Pakistan to the Wagah border with India, including to the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar.

In a further step towards the mutual bond of friendship, on November 2010, the two states formed a joint chamber of commerce to expand trade relations and solve problems the traders face.

The APTTA agreement has taken effect after several Afghan trucks delivered fruits from Afghanistan to the Wagah border with India in June 2011.

Completion of the APTTA is to further help the local economies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, by connecting South Asia with Central Asia and the Middle East.

In July this year, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to extend APTTA to Tajikistan in what will be the first step for the establishment of a North-South trade corridor.

The proposed agreement will provide facilities to Tajikistan to use Pakistan’s Gwadar and Karachi ports for its imports and exports while Pakistan will enjoy trade with Tajikistan under terms similar to the transit arrangement with Afghanistan.

The agreement was intended to improve trade between the two countries but Pakistan in 2011 delayed Afghan-bound containers after the 2011 NATO attack on Pakistan’s Salala checkpost.

And finally now a personal observation on some of Afghans’ myopic thinking about Pakistan.

A few months back I happened to read comment from a reader at Pakistani blog site which said that the KPK province was gifted by Afghans to Pakistan. In his comment, while the reader had eulogised India, it termed Pakistan’s policies as highly negative which according to the commenter were disturbing the peace in the south Asian region.

I first thought that perhaps the commenter was an Indian becoz I daily receive such comments from many Indian readers on my blog. In response when I sent a counter omment to the said website, the editor of the blog informed me that the said commenter in fact was not an Indian but an Afghan.

I was so startled to know that this Afghan thought so negatively about our country, a country which in the words of the writer (Zafar Hilaly) for the past 35 years has protected, housed and fed Afghans fleeing wars, occupation and civil strife. Unlike the Iranians, who confined them to camps and strictly policed their movement, Pakistan offered them a hundred other freedoms, such as the freedom of its land, access to schools and colleges etc. In fact, it treated them as part of its national family. And in contrast what we got is a scold on international forums as mentioned by Zafar in this post.

Abb wo bhi kaeh rhe haen
Be nang-o-Naam hae
Ye janta tau ghar ko
Lutata kabhi na maen

Contd…

Next: Will the Taliban opt for peace? [2 of 2]

Pages  1  2

Some more posts from Nayyar Hashmey

1. The Motorway and the Dark Ages [in two parts] 2. Salam, Abdus Salam [in two parts] 3. ‘Project Malala’: The CIA’s Socio-Psychological Intelligence [in two parts] 4. Wave of Democratic Revolutions in the Southern Hemisphere 5. Achievers despite heavy odds [in three parts] 6. Rewinding the Tragic Saga 1947 7. The Quaid and the Significance of Pakistan
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  1. [...] Previous: Will the Taliban opt for peace? [1 of 2] [...]

  2. [...] Doctrine: Origin and the Manifest under House of Saud [in three parts] 2. Will the Taliban opt for peace? [in two parts] 3.  Motorway and the Dark Ages [in two parts] 4. Salam, Abdus Salam [in two [...]


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