Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pakistan - Afghan relations

The Pakistani government is attempting to impose greater control over its western borders with Afghanistan. 

In a recent interview, Pakistan’s top national security advisor, Sartaj Aziz commented that Pakistani and Afghan security officials will meet to discuss cross-border movements between the two states. Aziz also stated that Islamabad will begin issuing special passes to people from the border region to facilitate their cross-border movements and will expedite the visa process for Afghans.

"Even now we issue 1,000 or 2,000 visas to the Afghans everyday," he said. "This is a process and we will know the outline of the new border management once Afghanistan and Pakistan work out its details. We cannot let this border remain porous.”  

Afghanistan has never formally recognized the Durand Line as an international border. The Durand line was created in 1947 when the state of Pakistan was founded and has been a constant cause for tensions. Pakistan has frequently been accused of violating the border because it hosts Afghan insurgents. Kabul and Islamabad often accuse each other of sheltering insurgents.

Whilst there are most certainly insurgents residing on both sides of the border, the reality of the situation is that it is highly likely that neither government is supporting these groups given the authorities have little or no control of the region. 

Border management and cooperation between the two countries might lessen cross-border attacks and restrict any liaisons between Taliban insurgents on both sides of the border. The importance of co-operative security strategy has been highlighted by the increase in violence in Pakistan in the last year, largely along the Durand Line. There were 1,717 terrorist attacks in 2013 (a 9% increase on 2012), that resulted in the deaths of 2,451 people (a 19% increase) and the injuries of 5,438 (a 42% increase).

With the handover of Afghanistan looming, there are serious concerns that we will see a Taliban takeover as soon as NATO turns its back. Hence peace talks between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Karzai are important.  

As Afghanistan faces monumental challenges in rebuilding its civil society, India needs to improve relations and cooperate with Pakistan to maintain relative peace in the region.

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