Fragile peace

Editorial Board
Sunday, Apr 24, 2022

Since the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August last year, Pakistan has been trying to convince the Taliban regime to eliminate all terrorist hideouts in their country. Pakistani soil has time and again become a target of terrorism in the past decades and it is now time that the current rulers in Kabul take notice of such repeated violations of international law. The situation on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been worsening over the last few weeks. Despite the fencing of the border, the ISPR has reported that three soldiers posted in the area were martyred in North Waziristan after firing across the Derawar sector. There have also been other incidents of firing across the Durand Line in that area, despite efforts by the Pakistani authorities to fence it off. At the same time, Afghanistan continues to battle a serious terrorist threat within its own borders. Three days ago, an attack on a mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif killed 12 people and injured others while another attack on a mosque in Kunduz on Friday took the lives of 33 people, including children. The attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State of Khorasan. Whereas the Taliban claim they have defeated the ISK, it appears that this force is still able to wreak havoc when it chooses to do so. This is bad news for Afghanistan's stability and its future.

Afghanistan and Pakistan need to work together if terrorism incidents are to be brought to a halt. To do so, Pakistan must open up talks with the Taliban government – as yet unrecognized by the world – to determine what the most effective strategy would be. It is unfortunate that while Pakistan has consistently supported the new government in Afghanistan, on the condition that it uphold human rights, the firing over the border continues. There is no solution but to work out an agreement through dialogue and talks so that this violence can stop and at the same time Pakistan can possibly help Afghanistan overcome the internal threats it continues to face.

What is needed right now from the Taliban regime is a two-pronged approach to violence and terror. First, eliminate TTP bases that are on Afghan soil. This is important for regional peace and cooperation. Afghanistan and Pakistan have never had smooth relations, but the recent turn of events could threaten the fragile peace that has been worked on. Second, the Taliban are facing a real threat from the ISK; this threat needs a proper strategy to be countered. The Taliban government must recognize that the only way forward for both countries is to work towards peace both within and outside its borders. Pakistan can urge the Taliban to do more on the counterterror front, while also offering support on other issues and working out a way to keep the borders at peace. One hopes the Taliban regime sees the benefit of cooperation and good neighbourliness.