Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

What was the goal of Afghan President Trip to Pakistan?

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What was the goal of Afghan President  Trip to Pakistan?

A few days after Afghan political leaders’ trip to Pakistan that attended the Lahore peace conference, the Afghan president also visited to Pakistan. During his visit, he met with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other top Pakistani officials. According to the formal reports, his trip aimed to discuss about several issues such as security, peace talks with the Taliban, regional connectivity, trade ties and economic investment. In his initial meeting with Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Ghani said that he visited Pakistan as per demand of almost 3,200 delegates of the grand peace council to improve relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In order to move forward, I do not want to dwell on the past but differentiate between good and bad strategies. Bad strategy is truly repeating the mistakes of the past,” Ghani said.
However, there were different interpretations and questions about the real purpose of Mr. Ghani to Pakistan.  Some of the analysts ascribed it to the long-lasting talks between the United States and the Taliban, and marginalization of government while the Afghan peace process has reached critical stages. The second interpretation, given that the presidential election is on the way, assessed his visit to Pakistan to win Pakistan’s support for his election campaign, especially gaining support of Pakistan for the Taliban dominated area. This analysis immediately comes after their participation of Afghan political leaders in Lahore peace conference; they were also blamed for having close relations with Pakistan and may be they have bargained about support of Islamabad from certain candidate.
Based on the apparent outcome of the visit, it seems that the main goal of the president’s trip to Pakistan was to improve economic relations such as improvement of trade and transit of goods between the two countries or through both countries. President Ghani is well aware of Pakistan’s position in the region as well as about its overt and hidden role in Afghanistan. He also has clear views on general economic situation of the region and importance Afghanistan’s relations with its neighbors. After two day, he came back with outcomes that Pakistani officials have accepted to allow the transition of Afghan goods through Wagah-Etar to India. For several last years, Pakistan prevented Afghan goods to pass through this route to India and caused similar reaction from Afghanistan with blocking their lorry way to Central Asia.
Nevertheless, there is no optimism in materialization of the diplomatic pledges as the issues between the two countries are far deeper to be solved this easily. Pakistan is considered as an unambiguous supporter of terrorist group and the persistence of conflict in Afghanistan. Most explosions in Afghanistan are attributed to ISI of Pakistan.  Everybody agrees that Pakistan decisively and vigorously manage the conflict in Afghanistan with undertaking a lot expenses. However, there are different views about real motives of Pakistan from support of Terrorism group in Afghanistan. Some politicians attribute it to Dawran-Line while others ascribe it to other issues such as the completion between India and Pakistan as well as monopoly Pakistan on the water of Afghanistan.
The root cause of the conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan has long history, and deeper to be decided immediately. Thus, no deep changes have been occurred in the mentality of both countries so as to start deeply talk about the root issues. Many of the local analysts believe that Pakistan had not and will not easily change their main views about Afghanistan. Pakistan is blamed for having its strategic depth in Afghanistan which was initially raised in the 80s by General Aslam Baig, head of the Pakistani army headquarters. Indirectly pointing to this, Ghani implied that he is in Pakistan as the representative of the sovereign state of Afghanistan to seek a relation of equality and cooperation between two sovereign states. Hence most people think that it is unlikely that president and government of Afghanistan expect Pakistan to refrain and cease its intervention in Afghanistan.
Based on this complicated issues and distrusts, it is more logical to say that the main goal of the president to Pakistan can be economic and trade relation between the two countries. President Ghani wants to draw Islamabad’s attention on importance of economic and transit relation between the two countries. It is said that Pakistan has nearly $ 60 billion in debt. The Economic pressure and cut-off international assistance, including the United States, has increased in recent years due to its support from the terrorist groups. It seems that some Pakistani officials have also realized the issue but they have not taken any practical plan to improve its economic situation and provide resources to repay its huge debts. In this regard, Ghani said Afghanistan will be a partner of Pakistan in reduction of poverty, in overcoming institutional difficulties and connecting to a wider regional market
In fact, the Afghan president has a plan to help Pakistan’s economy and trade. Some Parts of these plans can be implemented through good relations with Afghanistan. It is unlikely that President Ghani ask Pakistani authorities for political support from his team in the upcoming elections. But it’s natural that he would mention the ideas and views of Afghan people and government as president of the country. As aforementioned, the outcome of President Trip to Islamabad is improvement in economic and trade relations between the two countries but it can be expanded to the political relations provided that no parts breach their commitments.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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