What is Afghanistan’s problem?

Published: January 20, 2017

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on December 11, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

On Monday, the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, once again blamed Pakistan for the terrorist attacks in his country. The blame stemmed from a presidential statement following the Kabul terrorist attacks when Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called President Ghani. Despite the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff’s offer to share intelligence and cooperation with Afghanistan, in order to curb terrorism in the region, the president blamed Pakistan for the terrorism in his country claiming that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan.

Afghanistan has been going through a period of transition since the United States’ (US) invasion post 9/11, when the US and its allies ousted the Taliban. The US blames the Taliban for not only terrorising the Afghans, but for exporting terrorism across the world. Although, the US claims that they have defeated the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, in reality most of the rural areas of Afghanistan are still ruled by the Taliban. They attack Afghan security forces regularly and the recent attacks are a part of the outbreaks initiated by the Taliban after their ousting from Kabul.

Similarly, Pakistan has also been a victim of terrorism since 9/11. Not only in the rural areas of FATA and Balochistan, but urban cities like Karachi and Peshawar have faced their brunt of terrorism as well. To curb this terrorism, Pakistan conducted many military operations in all Taliban safe-havens, rural and urban. While this activity has now been brought somewhat under control by the Pakistani security forces, Pakistan still has a long way to go in order to completely eradicate terrorism from her soil.

Before playing the blame-game, as was done by President Ghani, it would be apt to deduce where these terrorist hideouts really are; is their safe haven in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or elsewhere?

There is no doubt that, in the past, Pakistan did provide a safe haven for terrorist organisations in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) especially in North Waziristan and Swat. However, these organisations have been eliminated by the Pakistani security forces through operations Zarb-e-Azab, Rah-e-Rast and Khyber II.

At the beginning of operation Zarb-e-Azab, Pakistan had offered to either launch a similar operation in Afghanistan near the border or to close its border during the operation so that the terrorists operating within would be unable to flee to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Afghan and US security forces operating in Afghanistan turned a deaf ear to Pakistan’s suggestion. After the operation, all terrorists that were residing in these areas fled to Afghanistan and took shelter near the Pakistani border. They then made the Afghans that resided there evacuate, after which they launched attacks on both sides of the border (Afghanistan and Pakistan). These terrorist organisations now have a safe haven in Afghanistan, from where they have been operating against both countries.

Pakistan now has to stop the attacks that stem from Afghanistan and implement a border management system. In order to achieve this, Pakistan has offered to share mechanisms and intelligence with Afghanistan. The present Chief of Army Staff isn’t the only one to have offered his loyalty; former Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, also presented the same offer to Afghanistan in Davos during the World Economic Forum to combat terrorism. But instead of taking up Pakistan’s offer, Afghanistan’s president always finds shelter in the blame game, which has brought nothing but destruction to both countries.

This is not first time that Ghani has blamed Pakistan. He has done so at the Heart of Asia conference, among other world forums.

The analysts are under the impression that Ghani, who was the blue eyed boy for both the US and Afghanistan, has lost their confidence, while there are many like the ex-Afghan intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, who have openly threatened Ghani’s government over the Pakistan problem. They organised a protest in Kabul last week against Pakistan and have besieged the Pakistani embassy in Kabul after the attack. The analysts view Ghani’s present statement as frustration, as well as an attempt at saving face after his failure to control terrorism in Afghanistan.

In light of Russia’s recent activities in world affairs like Syria and Palestine, the world’s unipolar status has ended. Russia is now aligned with China, challenging the US – a new cold war has begun.

Pakistan, China, and Russia had a meeting about Afghanistan in which they agreed to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table for long-lasting peace in Afghanistan. However, the Afghan government neglected to acknowledge this meeting on the plea that she was never invited.

Now considering the facts mentioned above, there is no space for Pakistan or Afghanistan to point fingers at each other. The need of the hour is for them trust one another, create proper mechanisms for border management to monitor terrorist activity, as well as share intelligence information to counter terrorism. Otherwise, the region will turn into another war zone, which will not end well for anyone.

Mureeb Mohmand

Mureeb Mohmand

An Express Tribune reporter from FATA. He tweets @mureebmohmand (twitter.com/mureebmohmand)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Humza

    Afghanistan has been playing the “blame the Pakistan” game to account for their own incompetence and treachery for too long that no one in the world takes them seriously. You are right when you say Pakistan has been a big victim of terrorism but we must remember that a lot of the criminal acts against Pakistani citizens such as the APS massacre were orchestrated from across the border in Afghanistan. For over sixty years successive Aghan governments have acted as puppets for India to mount cross border violence in Pakistan. This was openly acknowledged by former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. When Kabul is openly playing with fire, how can it say anything with a straight face? Instead of being an Indian puppet and causing trouble in Pakistan, would it not make more sense for Afghanistan to work together with Pakistan, especially considering millions of Afghan refugees live in Pakistan and countless Afghans travel to Pakistan for basic needs? Hopefully the new US administration can help both countries secure the border by building a big barrier between the countries to curb the flow of people coming in from Afghanistan. The US President has made his intention to build a wall to keep out illegal Mexicans so he should understand the importance of Pakistan building a wall to keep out illegal Afghans in the same way. Kabul has to understand that a secure border is best for the region to curb violence.Recommend

  • powayman

    Attacking the TTP in N Waziristan did not address Afghanistan’s concerns about the Haqqani or other Afghan terrorist who have been allowed sanctuary for the past 15+ years. Pakistan has yet to provide any evidence that it has killed/captured a single Haqqani and your own Interior Minister has admitted as much.Recommend

  • quatro

    One mans facts are often nothing but opinion. Nobody outside of Pakistan thinks the N Waziristan offensive had anything to do with removing the Haqqani or any other Afghan Terrorist groups – that was solely about attacking the TTP. Recommend

  • An Indian

    In one word – PAKISTAN. And not just Afghanistan’s problem, but an international problem except for it’s master. Recommend

  • wb

    “Similarly, Pakistan has also been a victim of terrorism since 9/11.”

    f I kill my neighbor, I become a murderer. If I kill myself, it becomes a suicide.

    In simple words: “Pakistan has been living a murder, suicide mission.”

  • singh

    “Pakistan had offered to either launch a similar operation in Afghanistan near the border or to close its border during the operation so that the terrorists operating within would be unable to flee to Afghanistan.”
    Why pakistan didn’t do the same when Nato force arrived in Afghanistan?
    Don’t think people have short memory of history. Recommend

  • Habibul Bashar

    Because Pakistan sheltered afgani refugees for 30 years, as return favour they areoy to India.Recommend

  • Habibul Bashar

    Because Pakistan sheltered afgani refugees for 30 years, as return favour they are loyal to India. In other countries, it is called back standing, in Afghanistan it the traditional way showing grateful ness.Recommend

  • shaan

    Pakistan has also been a victim and nearly 99,9999 martyrs from Pakistan Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Afghanistan’ Problems
    1)No education.
    2)Too much free time on peoples hand.
    3)Believing everything they hear.
    4)Playing servant to the the highest power.
    5)No desire to take responsibility for their own actions.
    6)Unability and unwillingness to change.
    7)Unable to clean their own house.
    8)Extreme weak govt under Karzai, whose reach does not go outside Kabul.
    9)Long tradition of playing host to enemies soldiers.
    10)Biting the hand that feeds them.
    11)And many many many more…….Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Trump will not put up with this duplicity!Recommend

  • stevenson

    Are you just fooling yourself? . No one believes India or Afghanistan since it only backfired on the two. The world knows India’s games all have to do with denying a UN resolution on Indian occupied Kashmir where people are fighting for freedom. India will do anything to distract the world. Recommend

  • Bezukhov

    What is Afghanistan’s problem?

    It’s full of Afghans?Recommend

  • wb

    Fantastic. Now, please replace the word Afghanistan with Pakistan and you’ve described your country in the best way possible.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Because NATO forces did not arrive in Pakistan.
    They arrived in Afghanistan.
    You are responsible for your own country.
    We are not.Recommend

  • Oats

    Not for long if Afghans have their way – they all want to smuggle to Europe and the West to beg for asylum. Look at how the woman Afghan woman pilot Rahmani promptly begged for asylum in US after finishing her training course!Recommend

  • Oats

    I would change replace the word Afghanistan with India and that is the best description of problem!Recommend

  • wb

    Actually, it wouldn’t. In fact none of them. Not a single of of them.

    Nice try with propaganda. But it works absolutely perfectly with Pakistan.Recommend