Afghanistan – A threat to Pakistan
Afghanistan – A threat to Pakistan
By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia
The three major wars and the 60 years old dispute between Pakistan and India on Kashmir created a traditional rivalry between the two nations. Pakistanis also make India responsible helped the independent movement in East Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh. Yet, both Pakistan and India possess common history, culture, traditions and above all the people in both the countries commonly acknowledge now that their good neighbourly relations can provide enormous benefits to the people of both the countries at all levels.
On the other hand, another neighbour and a Muslim country, Afghanistan shares 25,00km northern border with Pakistan supposed to be an ingenuous friend of Pakistan has always created enormous troubles for Pakistan since the creation of Pakistan. Afghanistan is the only country who opposed the membership of Pakistan for the United Nations. Afghanistan always preferred Indian benefit over Pakistan’s interest. About 20 years, Afghanistan did not accept the Durand (border) Line which divides the two countries and claimed that part of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) as an Afghanistan’s territory.
From the very beginning Afghanistan has supported anti-Pakistan elements in the northern region of Pakistan. The legend Pukhtoon leader, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Alias Badshah or Bacha Khan also known as Sarhadi Ghandi who strongly opposed the creation of Pakistan and received Indian highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ was always backed by Afghanistan.
When majority of people in Northern region of then united India voted in favour of Pakistan during the Pakistan’s movement Bacha Khan asked his follower to boycott the polls. Then after the creation of Pakistan, in 1948, Bacha Khan addressed the constituent assembly of Pakistan and demonstrated his loyalty to the new nation of Pakistan. He announced his support for Pakistan, at the same time, maintained his close links with India and received support from Afghanistan on his political manifestos. Bacha Khan and his followers received total support to their party ‘Khudai Khidmadgar’ by the then Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). This is the same party which seized power in Afghanistan in a popular insurrection directed against the dictatorship of then President Mohammed Daud Khan and then welcomed Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1978.
Smuggling via Afghanistan into Pakistan has always been a problem for Pakistan for which Pakistan has been paying heavy toll for Pakistan’s economy.
During my early life in Pakistan, I had never heard about ‘Kalashnikov’ (Russian made gun) and ‘Heroin’ until I heard about the invasion of Afghanistan by the then Soviet Union. Millions of Afghan refugees fled from Afghanistan into Pakistan in result of the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. It was Pakistan’s every-possible assistance to the freedom fighters ‘Mujahedeen’ against Russians that defeated Soviet Union in Afghanistan. More than ten years, Pakistan not only supported ‘Mujahedeen’ or ‘Taliban’ by arms, ammunition and military competencies but opened the doors for 4 million (Afghan) refugees. Afghan refugees were not only confined to the refugee camps but allowed to move anywhere in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan open their hearts for Afghan refugees and through donations, casual jobs etc provided helped to Afghan refugees. According to the reports more than 2 million Afghans refugees moved in the major cities of Pakistan from which 1 million settled in the outskirts of Karachi – the largest commercial and seaport of Pakistan. But what Afghan has returned to Pakistan and its people?
Taking the advantage of their cultural and linguistic similarities lots of Afghans obtained Pakistani residency through illegal means and claimed themselves as Pushtoon (people from NWFP). Many of them travelled overseas using Pakistani travel documents. These Afghan refugees gifted new culture to Pakistan – A culture of guns & drugs. The ones who travelled to other countries brought ignominy for Pakistan as being caught in various illegal activities particularly in human trafficking and drugs.
Pakistan supported Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001 in Afghanistan, militarily as well as financially. One must remember that the formation of Taliban’s government, in 1994, was fully financed and backed by the United States through Pakistan. In return, on the name of Islamic Sharia, Taliban imposed fanatic rules in Afghanistan. For example; Women were not allowed to get education or for work in any industry. Male doctors were not allowed to treat females etc. Taliban did not limit their fanatic ideas within Afghanistan. Taking the opportunity to move freely between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taliban created their sections and people of their ideas across the border in Pakistan. Their activities led to the production of new religious ideologies in Pakistan. Today Pakistan is facing enormous threat to its security and stability due to fanaticism, violence and terrorism on name of Jihad which are basically the imported products from Afghanistan.
After the 9/11 (2001) attacks in United States, Pakistan’s agencies tried to establish deal between United States and Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden and his Al Quaeda members in order to avoid any bloody conflict and to maintain peace in the region, however, after extreme efforts, Taliban’s response turned to out to be a failure.
United States and Western powers gave no option when President George Bush declared war on Afghanistan on the name of capturing the members of Al-Quaeda and Taliban, live or dead and asked Pakistan to be with US allies. Taking the interest of the country and the region into account, Pakistan offered its full co-operation. Since then Pakistan has been making every possible efforts to hunt down terrorists and their activities. Pakistan fully supported the US-made government of Hamid Karzai. Despite of the fact that Pakistan has been facing insecurity, threats, economical slump and frequent terrorist attacks Pakistan has never gave-up painful support to Kamid Karzai and his government.
In return, what Pakistan is getting from President Karzai and his government? While President Karzai was expressing his reaction against the recent jailbreak in the south of the city of Kandaharin, he attacked on Pakistan by threatening to send Afghan troops across Pak-Afghan border.
President Karzai’s statement makes no sense in the present situation of Afghanistan where the country is controlled by foreign troops to deal with insurgence except that if he was speaking on behalf of the US administration. In any case, Karzai’s harsh and selfish arguments against Pakistan shows that he and his government has no respect of what Pakistan has done for Afghanistan in the past and at present. President Karzai should know that sending troops across other country is an international crime. And in case of sending troops into Pakistan’s territory Pakistan will have every right to respond with military might.
In the last 5 years, Pakistan has suffered lose of many army personnel. Recently, US air strikes killed several civilians and 13 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers manning a border post in Mohmand Agency. In return, what has Pakistan received from Afghanistan? More blaming and allegations!
Therefore, the government of Pakistan must learn the lesson now. Afghanistan has never been faithful to Pakistan in the past and will never be in the future. Any sort of relationship or activities with Afghanistan will cost more to Pakistan. (The writer is a Sydney-based journalist and a media analyst).