The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, is understandably frustrated; he finds himself increasingly inadequate to blunt the Taliban’s annual spring offensive which moves closer by the day. No doubt attack on the parliament was effectively checked – Afghan intelligence agency NDS says it knew it was coming – but in Kabul and elsewhere the offensive doesn’t seem to be relenting. The sources that claim to have the intel of attack on parliament were never agreeable to the two pacts the Ghani government signed with Pakistan, and accordingly put the president on defensive. He is being fed with concocted anti-Pakistan information in that Islamabad was never sincere in turning the page of bitter past. That had prompted the Ghani government to send a letter to Pakistan asking arrests of Taliban leadership in Quetta and Peshawar. There are no Taliban leaders in Quetta, Peshawar or anywhere else in Pakistan, he was told. But he remains under pressure for something else, and that something is his political detractors, including his own coalition partners and his so-called eyes and ears. The Afghan Intelligence Agency, NDS, was opposed to the MoU and his co-sharer Abdullah Abdullah had claimed he was an outsider in that understanding. And that pressure is on the rise, poisoning President Ghani’s mind, aptly reflected from his video-taped speech to an international gathering at Doha on Tuesday. Pakistan is in a state of an “undeclared war” with Afghanistan, and warned “anyone lighting fire in Afghanistan will itself burn in that fire”. That the “future of Afghanistan is dependent on co-operation from the regional countries”, is a highly plausible statement by him but an essential proviso to it is that future of Afghanistan is first and foremost obligation of the Afghans. How much of support Ashraf Ghani has been able to win during his nearly year-long presidency, the question remains. The weakest link in his governance is pro-India pockets in Afghan bureaucracy and civil society. They still retain capacity to derail President Ghani’s pro-Pakistan foreign policy. Islamabad need not react negatively to his criticism given that transition from decades-long war to democratic peace Afghanistan is presently undergoing cannot be absolute free of spells of contention and frustration.
One particular thing that he said at the Doha event merits recall, and should be taken in its correct perspective. He accepted the ‘vast presence’ of foreign insurgents in Afghanistan, and said foreign militants from 10 countries are operating only in Kunduz province. Maybe quite few of these militants are those who fled Pakistan’s military operation in tribal areas. But who stopped Kabul from interdicting the fleeing militants and hand them over to Pakistan. Had Kabul done its part there would not have been scores of safe havens ensconcing terrorists like Mulla Fazlullah. The reality is that entities espousing extremist ideologies nurture franchises and when needed requisition their help, as might be the case in Kunduz. In coming days as Pakistan armed forces undertake the final round of Zarb-e-Azb to clear Shawal Valley in North Waziristan it is quite possible that some of the militants flee across the border. It would be up to the Afghan border force how they interdict them. Pakistan has no soft corner for any brand of Taliban; all are being taken out as their past alliances are now a history. One more thing the Kabul rulers need to understand is that the Taliban movement is no more monolithic; it is splitting up into pieces of soft-liners and hardliners. The soft-liners are already in talks with the Ghani government but hard-liners are out in the field fighting for the cause of their mother entities.
Source: Business Recorder