COAS visit to Kabul
The chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajva visited Kabul on the invitation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. This was his first visit in which he was accompanied by a delegation comprising DG ISI, DG MI, DG ISPR, Foreign Secretary and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan. He met the Afghan President and both sides discussed important issues including regional security, bilateral relationship and stability and terror efforts. Business and transit relationship also came under discussion. They agreed to continue high level contacts and carry out coordinated actions against terror.
The Communique issued after the talks between the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and President Ashraf Ghani envisages positive signals from Kabul. Reciprocating Pakistan desire and efforts for the peace and stability in Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani emphasized the need for task team and monitoring mechanism to create a cooperative framework to ensure implementation of promises and meet the deadlines. He said peace and stability will benefit both the countries in terms of poverty alleviation. Pakistan agreed with Ashraf Ghani suggestions and assured that its task team will draft a plan.
The Army Chief visit to Kabul is of greater importance in the wake US Defense Secretary James Mattis recent parleys with Afghan leadership. The well entrenched pro India lobby in Kabul creates mistrust about Pakistan. The talks between General Bajwa and Ashraf Ghani will help reduce the trust deficit and pave the way for exploring ways and means to strengthen border security for countering terrorism.
The need of the hour is that our relationship with Afghanistan should be determined by economic interests rather than politics. By investing $ 2 billion in Afghanistan, India has earned the gratitude of its people and successive Afghan governments. President Trump has used India’s economic muscle as an ingredient in his recently announced policy on Afghanistan. Pakistan can create a goodwill amongst the Afghan people and their government by facilitating measures for Afghan transit trade, granting scholarships to students in the Pakistani Universities and arrangements for faculty exchange. Friendly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan will enable the Central Asian states to establish close economic cooperation with Pakistan given the complementarity between their economies and ours. As both sides have agreed to continue high level contacts, it is now for the political leadership to visualize the dynamics of this region and initiate follow-up steps for closer relationship with Afghanistan by formulating and putting into practice a pragmatic Afghan Policy.