Afghanistan started a new era of relationship with Pakistan, after the fall Taliban government and appointment of Hamid Karzai as new President of the country. Now there is a new president and a ruling junta which does not consider Pakistan a friend. The situation got real precarious lately after exchange of fire in which people from both the sides were killed.
One of the prime reasons for Afghan hostilities was construction of a gate at Torkham border. Ironically Karzai’s allegation that Pakistan does not want good relations between India and Afghanistan and wants ‘no bilateral trade and no access to Central Asia for India’ sound completely illogical.
Historically, Pakistan has offered transit trade facility to landlocked Afghanistan. The situation is likely to change to some extent after construction of Chabahar port in Iran by India, which offers an alternate route to Central Asian countries through Afghanistan. Now, there remains no binding on Afghanistan to use Pakistan’s ports, road and railway links. It is at liberty to undertake its international trade through Chabahar.
Therefore, the accusation that Pakistan is a hurdle in Afghan trade is completely baseless. Knowing that Afghanistan is no longer dependent of Pakistan it is trying to open Pandora’s box by taking about old but settled conflicts. No one can deny the fact that Afghans always have a hostile attitude towards Pakistan; they have not accepted the border.
In one of its statements Karzai has openly termed the formation of Durand Line a ‘result of British imperialism’ in the region. He even went to the extent of saying that Afghanistan has never accepted this border since 1893, nor will they ever accept it in future.
“When Pakistan came into being in 1947, they received it this way, so we are not blaming them but Durand Line is a blow which no Afghan can ever forget. We do not accept this border but will not fight over this issue,” said Karzai.
He maintained that terrorism and extremism is a menace which has not only affected people of both Pakistan and Afghanistan but added that “we (Afghans) think they have found safe havens and are getting aid from Pakistan.”
Despite having remained President of Afghanistan and witnessed cross border terrorism, he has deliberately avoiding taking about militants living in Afghanistan and their involvement in cross border terrorism against Pakistan as well as Iran.
Trade going on under the disguise of ‘transit trade’ has been causing colossal damage to Pakistan’s economy. May be the time has come to let Afghanistan decide itself, if it wants to use Pakistan or Iran as transit route.
As stated above if Afghanistan wants it can route all its international trade through Iran and let Pakistan build fence and gates at the common border. This border, spread over hundred to kilometers is highly porous and terrorist can very conveniently pass it.
The movement of Afghan and Pakistanis should also not be allowed without passport/visa and the old system must be discontinued immediately. If the ground realities are changing the ‘rule of the game’ must also change. Let Afghans chose between Pakistan and India but once the decision is made the new rules will have to be followed stringently.