Last weak, Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, talking to the delegation of ambassadors of Central Asian countries in Islamabad emphasized that stable Afghanistan is must for peace in the region. He mentioned Pakistan's willingness for reconciliation process that is going on in Afghanistan. "Pakistan supports every effort intended towards peace and tranquility of Afghanistan," he assured during his speech.
He added, "We support Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process and would provide all possible help to promote enduring peace and finding permanent solutions to the present issues and challenges," and "Pakistan is working closely with the Afghan government and other regional and international partners in this regard." If such statements are really turned into actions, they can be really helpful for the peace and tranquility in the region.
Both Afghanistan and Pakistan can play a vital role in the ongoing crucial phase of War against Terrorism and their mutual cooperation and understanding can further strengthen their role but there have been many fluctuations in their relations that have influenced the endeavors against terrorism.
In post 9/11 scenario Afghanistan and Pakistan became the ground for War against Terrorism. The US troops landed in Afghanistan to revenge the dreadful attacks of 9/11. Pakistani government decided to join hands with the US government in this war, and started uprooting the fundamentalist elements from its lands. But by then the evil had penetrated to a large extent in different parts of the country.
Once they felt their existence in jeopardy they started reacting and a wave of terrorism started in Pakistan that affected the Pakistani society to a large extent. Suicide bombing, target killing and bloody assaults on innocent civilians, religious and ethnic minorities, religious places, security checkpoints and many other important people and places became the order of the day and they still threaten Pakistani society to a terrifying degree.
The extent of the penetration of the religious extremism in Pakistani society has become evident. It is no wonder as once Pakistani government (government of Gen. Zia ul Haq) itself took active part in supporting Taliban in Afghanistan.
Pak-Afghan border at that time used to be a training ground for Taliban. All those arrangements were sponsored by America, who basically wanted to counter Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Though at the end Soviet troops had to retreat, Taliban along with their extremist religious ideas kept on gaining strength and consequently became the most dominating force in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the growing networks of religious fanatics kept on increasing in the areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan with no strict accountability.
Taliban reign in Afghanistan, though could put an end to the civil war, was marked with strict and extremist religious principles. Their rule was determined to make Afghan society follow the hard-line principles which they thought were pure and sacred.
In the process they not only kept Afghan society away from the modernization process prevalent in the world but also committed severe injustices to human beings. Human rights were pressed under the burden of the heavy and self-designed religious principles and Afghan society started resembling a society in Dark Age.
As power and weapons were the guardian of the justice system, Kalashinkov culture was further inculcated in the society. People instead of finding the solution of their problems in any justice system or political platforms started forming militant groups for safeguarding their rights. This further intensified the roots of militancy in the region. These networks of religious extremists and militants kept strong ties with the networks in the bordering regions of Pakistan and have always used the Pak-Afghan border as a part of their defense strategy.
Since the invasion of the international troops that resulted in the downfall of Taliban there have been much improvements made, but the roots of religious extremism and militancy still remain fresh in some parts of the country that have been threatening the security arrangements in the country to a large extent.
Now more than ten years have passed since the appearance of international troops in the region and remarkable contribution has been made from international community in the form of aids and assistance, Afghan government and security forces are yet to shoulder the responsibility of governance and security of the country.
At the moment the country is going through security transition period wherein the security responsibility of the country is being handed over to Afghan security forces and international forces are withdrawing, therefore the socio-political circumstances have become very fragile and require appropriate consideration.
At this critical juncture the future security arrangements still remain doubtful as the country has still to face angry Taliban. Though there are efforts to reconcile with them for future developments, the outcomes still remain meager.
Pakistan at this critical juncture can really play an important role, as the Taliban networks are spread over both sides of the border. There have been Taliban who crossed the border when the life for them became difficult in Afghanistan during the fight with international troops.
There are some factions of Taliban who operate from the Northwestern parts of Pakistan and target American and Afghan forces. Haqqani network in this regard can be named as a clear example. Further there are factions of Taliban who are harshly against the Pakistani government and carry out their operations in different parts of Pakistan and they have their roots in Afghanistan.
Therefore, the issue of Talibanization is not common to any of these two bordering countries alone. They both suffer from the phenomenon. Moreover, both the countries are influenced by the policies of the government directed towards the terrorist networks.
Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have to take serious measures to curb the issue of terrorism and both have to join hand and take concrete measures in this regard. There have been promises between both the countries earlier as well but these sorts of promises can never help them in putting an end to this evil.
The current assurance of Pakistani President Zardari is really appreciating but it would not suffice unless it is converted to practical measures. If Pakistan considers peace in Afghanistan necessary for peace in the region it must make its cooperation sure for peace process in the region.
Yes, there are certain concerns for Pakistan at the moment, like the presence of American forces in its immediate neighborhood, but the extinction of terrorists from the region can support the national interests of Pakistan as well. That is what Pakistani authorities have to keep in mind at this critical juncture.