Closer Ties with Afghanistan
“Your Royal Highness has rightly referred to the natural bonds of friendship and affection which bind the people of our two countries. It could hardly be otherwise as these bonds are based on ties of faith and culture and common ideals. With such powerful bonds already in our favor we cannot, I feel, fail to bring the people of our two countries closer towards each other and closer than they were before the birth of Pakistan.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: Pakistan and Afghanistan, Bound by age-old links | 8th May 1948
- Context: Speaking with Afghanistan's Ambassador
Pakistan and Afghanistan are natural allies and there exists a great bond of friendship between the two people. It is important to declare that the democratic forces within Afghanistan that harbor progressive ideals of equality, justice and freedom are supported by the People of Pakistan. The civilized people of Pakistan abhor the human right abuses and oppressive practices from the Taliban, and we have always successfully fought against these forces within our own borders.
Unfortunately, the Taliban have been gaining momentum in seizing control of various Afghan regions. We observed similar outcomes in Iraq where the US-created Iraqi army collapsed when push came to shove. Taliban have been seizing weapons and military equipment from the Afghan forces. The Afghan peace forces are challenged as foreign troops left quickly, but our message to them is of courage and confidence.
During the past 20 years, Pakistanis suffered constant bombings in our peaceful citites; ~1.4M Pakistanis were internally displaced due to military operations in FATA and we lost 83,000 honorable Pakistanis. Pakistan will remain grateful to them and always cherish the memory of those who are no more. Our economy lost $150Bn to the war effort and we incurred great sacrifices. Despite these immense losses, our military victories and achievements in the War on Terror are too well-known for us to recount. Operation Zarb-e-Azab demonstrated Pakistan’s capability of wiping out all foreign and local militants in North Waziristan. Throughout this war, Pakistan also served the international community by hosting ~3MM Afghan refugees, despite limited capacity and resources. It is encouraging to see that President Biden has authorized $100MM in emergency funds for Afghan Refugees in response to on-going Taliban advances.
Pakistan has staked it all in the War-on-Terror and we must remind the world that Pakistan is definitely an ally. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11, while many mistakes have been made, Pakistanis have also rendered great services to the cause of international peace. Pakistan has recently emerged from a severe economic crisis and is slowly coming out of the on-going COVID pandemic. After enduring decades of war, Pakistan feels that it is now the time to build up our free market economy and conduct a rapid economic transformation.
We will protect ourselves from the violence in Afghanistan spilling over to Pakistan and defend our western border with grim determination. The opportunity cost of military upkeep across our borders is not insignificant, but we must endure and preserve peace internally.
There’s an increased sentiment within Afghanistan that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban. Pakistan asserts that its influence over Taliban is more imagined than real and Taliban’s current military efforts are a natural result of them sensing victory from the US announcing its exit date. Prime Minister Imran Khan has also stated to seal the border if Taliban takes over Afghanistan. The Pakistani agenda is to reach a political settlement within Afghanistan and to avoid a military conflict. The US has invested over $20Bn to train Afghan National Security & Defense Forces (ANSDF) and feels its time to leave. Though it seems Afghan forces are not yet ready or prepared. India is involved in the geopolitik of exercising influence over Kabul, and Indian sponsored terror groups have conducted attacks in Pakistan from Kabul, but this has not surfaced in international media because India is a strategic market and a potential counter-balance to China’s rising global influence. In other words, it’s a major clusterfuck.
Pakistan needs to ensure that economic development with the Chinese progresses unhindered; the PK market is continued to be seen as attractive for foreign investment and the current growth of our tourism industry must persist forward. Pakistan and the US should engage in a more vibrant economic relationship, and build stronger ties with each other. It is recognized by all that the Pakistani American diaspora proactively campaigned in support of President Joe Biden for the 2020 elections.
The People of Pakistan should build bridges with the Afghan people, and allow for cross-border commerce between the private sectors of each country. Pakistanis desire a strong friendship and closer ties with our brotherly people of Afghanistan. There are limitless possibilities of binational collaboration in various fields of music, sports, arts, commerce, science and others.
Afghanistan is in the existential fight for its destiny. Freedom, justice, right, and public law are pitted against despotism, aggression, anarchy, and brute force from the Taliban, and the result of a deadly combat or peaceful negotiation will decide the future of Afghanistan, whether the end will come with a stricken and shattered Afghanistan, lying bleeding and helpless under the iron heel of tyranny, with humanity stripped bare of its hope and faith and reduced to bondage, or whether the hideous nightmare will pass away and Afghanistan, redeemed by the blood of the heroic defenders of civilization and freedom, regains its heritage of peace and reconstruction.
Afghans must march forward resolutely and Pakistanis wish them Godspeed!
Update - Aug 5, 2021:
USIP hosted a conversation with Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf. The discussion looked at what these developments mean for Pakistan’s national security outlook towards its neighbors and its relationship with the United States, as well as how the pandemic impacts Pakistan’s security and economic policy.
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