That Tuesday’s conference of Corps Commanders of Pakistan Army has warned the “detractors and spoilers” against sabotaging the Afghan peace talks is a development that clearly underscores the criticality of talks that are essential to obtaining a lasting peace in the region.
Addressing the fellow generals, the army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, reiterated the army’s commitment to the peace process and averred that “it is the only way to achieving lasting peace”.
The generals are said to have discussed the Afghan reconciliation process that has hit some formidable snags following confirmation of Taliban chief Mulla Omar’s death that led to the postponement of second round of Afghan talks that Pakistan, under the active support of the US and China, has been vigorously facilitating in the country’s picturesque resort, Murree.
The growing Indian belligerence on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, appears to be a ploy aimed at sabotaging energetic efforts geared towards greater peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan – an objective that has become a sine qua non for the successful execution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that India should accept as a reality. The CPEC would not only benefit Pakistan, but also Afghanistan, the Central Asian states and even India itself.
Seen from this prism, the army chief has issued a timely warning to the principal saboteur or spoiler, India, by making it clear to the entire world that the army is fully ready to meet any aggression from India. The army chief was under a legitimate compulsion to issue such warning for he has been confronted with a slew of incriminating evidence that show India’s growing belligerence and increased interference in Pakistan’s internal matters.
That the killings of three civilians and injuries to 22 others by unprovoked Indian shelling on villages along the Working Boundary is a belligerent act on the part of India which has received a befitting reply the army chief said: “We’re fully prepared to respond to the entire spectrum of threats.” No doubt the army chief has sent a strong message across, challenging India and its proxies inimical to peace and therefore prosperity and progress of Pakistan.
It is, however, quite unfortunate that the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, seems to have failed to appreciate the efforts that Pakistan has been strenuously making towards achieving greater peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His assertion that Pakistan as a neighbouring country has responsibility to cooperate with Afghanistan in fighting Taliban and other terrorist groups to reduce violence in Afghanistan is bereft of realisation that Pakistan has never been complacent towards peace in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the description of Taliban as “terrorists”, per se, by Ghani will not brighten the prospects of efforts aimed at achieving peace in Afghanistan in particular.
He has every right to derive a kind of satisfaction from the confirmation of death of Taliban chief Mulla Omar because this development has catapulted the Afghan side at the negotiating table to a position of strength but he has no right to paint Pakistan as a country that is allegedly averse to peace in Afghanistan.
Addressing a video conference from a hospital bed in Germany to media outlets, the Afghan president, made a totally unwarranted remark that is clearly aimed at provoking Pakistan to give up hosting talks between the representatives of Afghan government and Taliban. What else does he want to achieve, when he says, particularly after he, according to him, had talked with prime minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Raheel Sharif on the situation: “Our main objective is peace between the government of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan is faced with an undeclared war with Pakistan over the past 14 years and this war should be over and both the governments should cooperate in this regard.”
It is both outrageous and disappointing; it also betrays Ashraf Ghani’s ignominious surrender to India’s sinister game-plan that seeks to cause immense harm to Pak-Afghan bilateral relations that had seen a historic high following the election of Ashraf Ghani-Abdullah Abdullah duo in Kabul.
The onus of responsibility therefore lies more with Kabul than Islamabad; it is required to make concrete efforts towards the Afghan peace process with a view to making the talks a success instead of gloating over the divisions in Taliban ranks following the confirmation of Mulla Omar’s death. Ghani must not lose sight of the fact that Pakistan-bashing had not worked in his predecessor Hamid Karzai’s era; nor will it work now or in future.