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Published Date: Mar 10, 2015

Improved Pak-Afghan ties require reciprocal efforts

ISLAMABAD: “Pakistan and Iran are more vulnerable to Islamic State (IS) compared to Afghanistan because the former have problems of sectarianism. Pakistan must be careful about IS to protect its nuclear assets,” Dr Moradian Salaam, director, Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), said.

Dr Salaam was speaking at a lecture titled ‘Pak-Afghan relationships; Old Tie-New Dimension’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday.

Dr Salaam said IS had been manipulating sectarian divides but in Afghanistan, there was no sectarianism.

“Israel had a cause to celebrate when Syria had to surrender chemical weapons after getting involved in a civil war based on sectarianism,” he said.

Afghan academic says India has always respected the dignity of Afghans

During the civil war in Syria, chemical weapons were used which drew a reaction from the international community.

The pressure on Syria made the country hand over its chemical weapons to the United Nations which disposed them off.

Dr Salaam said Pakistan should be concerned about the IS threat because some groups have already announced support for the group. “Similarly, Iran should also be concerned,” he added.

Discussing Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, he said both Islamabad and Kabul had expectations from each other and should manage their expectations through diplomacy.

“Although relations between the two countries are improving, they can only move forward on the basis of certain principles. Both countries should try to be good neighbours. Afghanistan should recognise the international border and Pakistan should accept an independent Afghanistan,” he said.

Dr Salaam said there should be transparency over all issues and they must be resolved on the table.

“There is also a need for consistency in policies, especially regarding the Taliban,” he said.

He said relations must be reciprocal. Pakistani trucks are allowed to go all over Afghanistan but Afghan trucks cannot enter Pakistan. Afghan television channels cannot be aired in Pakistan but Pakistani channels are watched in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has signed as many as 48 agreements with Afghanistan on economy and trade but not a single one has been implemented in letter and spirit, he said.

Dr Salaam said although Afghanistan was currently negotiating with the Taliban, violence was also on the rise. Security forces, which will be in Afghanistan until 2016, have adopted a policy of talking and negotiating at the same time, the director said.

“If the price of peace is re-Talibanisation, people are not ready to pay that price,” he said.

In response to a question, Dr Salaam said everyone in the world, including the private sector in Pakistan, was looking towards India for business and Afghanistan was doing the same.

“Moreover India is the only country which does not have policy for Afghanistan and respects the Afghans and their dignity. India has never instructed Afghans to do anything. Maybe India is very clever but it is a fact they have never tried to interfere in Afghanistan’s issues,” he said.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Q. Suleri said that there were some misconceptions in Pakistan regarding Afghanistan which need to be removed. “Majority of Pakistanis thought President Hamid Karzai did not have any constituency or support in Afghanistan which was wrong. It is also wrong to assume that the Afghan government is only functional in Kabul. Afghanistan is a much better governed country than people think,” he said.

“The Pakistani establishment made some mistakes and some were made from across the border. Neither should be repeated,” he said.

Mr Suleri agreed that Pakistan was vulnerable to IS and it could be a danger to Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

“When the neighbour’s house is on fire, wise people don’t throw kerosene oil on it. They try to put out the fire to save their own house,” he concluded.

Moderator Shakeel A. Ramay said a number of Afghans studied in Pakistani universities and now they are working at important positions in Afghanistan.

“Those people should be contacted as they are in a good position to play a role in resolving the issues between the two countries,” he said.
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