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No end to Afghan-Pak tensions in foreseeable future: Think tank

AT News Report

KABUL: Seasoned political and security affairs analysts have discussed ties between the national unity government (NUG) in Afghanistan and Nawaz-led government in Pakistan.

In a routine monthly meeting of the Rana Think Tank, analysts expressed a mix of optimism and pessimism.

Following is the transcript of the debate.

Following President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's trip to Pakistan, some of the remarks expressed by Pakistani officials need attention and consideration of Afghan intelligentsia.

First, Maulana Fazlur Rahman justified Jihad in Afghanistan and termed it forbidden in Pakistan. Sartaj Aziz international relations advisor to Pakistan's Prime Minister announced no enmity stance of Pakistan towards Afghan Taliban. This showed the political stance of Islamabad towards the Taliban in Afghanistan. Recently, General Pervez Musharraf, warned of India and Pakistan's proxy war in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country, and said non-Pashtun tribes will support India and Pashtun tribe will support Pakistan in this war.

Pakistan's political strategy towards the National Unity Government (NUG) led by President Ashraf Ghani follows two main principles.

Preventing the establishment of a centric and stable political system which represents the national sovereignty in Afghanistan. The goal which Pakistan follows in this regard is to show its presence as a speaker on behalf of Afghans in international community. As it played this role on behalf of Mujahidin and the then government of Dr. Najibullah in Geneva between 1981 and 1988.

 Pakistan by creating factures and gaps between different tribes and ethnic groups in Afghanistan wants to challenge the soul of modern nation-building in the country. It tries to involve tribes in power through different addresses under the name of political share aimed at maintaining its influence it has made during the cold war on political and Jihadi parties. Meanwhile, Pakistan wants to keep this influence on the government constituted by the political and jihadi parties.

After establishment of the new administration led by President Ghani, Afghans have found a new hope for change and are waiting for an alter in Afghanistan's political ties with Pakistan, as the nature of Pakistan's duel-faced policy challenges the US strategic interests in the region. This situation has created a new opportunity for president Ghani to draw the international community's attention towards the safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan and prevent pressure and attacks in Afghanistan. But Pakistani officials with having over three years of practical experience in Afghanistan better know how to impose the negative consequences their activities on Afghans and Afghanistan.

The unannounced trip of Pakistan's Army Chief Raheel Sharif with Rizwan Akhtar the new ISI chief following deadly attack on a school in Peshawar was aimed at putting the finger of blame on Afghanistan and drawing the attention of international media on the issue that Pakistan is attacked from Afghanistan not vise versa. As always, this attempt was taken by Pakistan to escape the blame of the deadly attack in Peshawar from itself and put in on Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have monopolized the phenomenon of Islamic extremism as a political tool in regional and international games. But the world has known the fact that terrorism, violence and extremism has no connection with teachings and principles of Islam; what lay behind these incidents and attempts is political, military and geographic motivations and ideology of Pakistan. Therefore, to find and discover the reality behind current crisis between Afghanistan and Pakistan, three phenomena should be academically assessed that include geography, Pashtun tribe and terrorism,

The geographic reason behind organizing terrorism;

Afghanistan's geography has been a ground for political competitions divided into the three following phases.

Facing two major world powers in 1980s, led to mushroom growth of some Islamic parties with the ideology of Jihad against communism in Afghanistan. Later, all spy agencies of the world entered into Pakistan to take part in this competition. Thus as per geostrategic importance, Afghanistan was placed as a heartland, the ground for political and intelligence competitions of the world.

With emerging of Mujahidin and their victory and the inattention to the support for Mujahidin government as well as support of the Taliban and leaving ISI officials to do what they want for using the geography of Afghanistan for organizing extremist groups by Pakistan, Afghanistan went into  a deep crisis of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The collapse of the militaristic administration of the then USSR and dismantling of the international order from bipolar and becoming of the US as the world power and the mono-polar system in the world, faced Afghanistan with challenges.

According to Hanington, establishment of civic zones against mono-polar system led Afghanistan once again towards deeper crisis by the US to prevent the unity of civic zones of India and China; and Russia and Iran.

Pashtun tribe;

Pashtun tribe can be counted among the tribes which has saved its originality under the frame of traditional and tribal interest with passing of time. A famous Iranian writer, Hamid Inayat, in his book A Look to Political Thoughts of Arabs hints to some points which are related to the issue under our discussion. He believes that Arab's loyalty to Islam is more sincere than Iranians because Arabs were Bedouins ahead of Islam. Their interest to living in cities did not prevented them to reduce their will in this regard, while Iranians due to their interest in city living and civilization have less sincerity.

A quote from Islam's Messenger Mohammad (Peace Be upon Him), points out to the connection of Islam with the spirit of Pashtun tribe when Islam entered into Afghanistan for the first time. Islam enters in Khurasan with difficulty and Khurasanians lose Islam with difficulty.

Pashtun tribe due to majority and their custom sovereignty in Afghanistan and their presence in both sides of the Durand Line that was the center of organizing and equipping Mujahidin has played main role in defeating the then USSR. This tribe is counted as important minority in Pakistan, because it constitutes 25 to 30 million population of this country. They have access to lowest facilities in their society. In political point of view, from the first days of establishment of Pakistan, the main attempt of that society was to topple Pashtuns. In recent decades, Islamabad and Punjab State has been important hub for trade, technology and other fields including culture. But the residents of tribal belt areas have been the center of militancy and crisis particularly after the coup of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq aimed at dominating Afghanistan through investing on particular Jihadi parties. Islamabad and Punjab State have followed the mentioned policy by using traditional and religious spirit of Pashtuns under the religious centers for improving the holy religion of Islam; but they tried to increase extremism through the centers aimed at using students of the religious centers which include Pashtuns for reaching its political goals. They used the students as the champions and fighters of the religion to achieve their heinous political ends.

Jihad's connection with terrorism;

Islam considers invitation to this religion, good manner and logic as its basis and these are the principles of any kind of social and political deal. Islam has rejected and forbidden any kind of violence and illogical acts because in religious education and Islamic teaching the Almighty Allah is the bright sign of kindness and forgiveness, and Muslims as the representative of God on the earth should explore these signs and specifications. According to Islam's jurisprudence, Jihad comes in specific situations—the situations where principles of this religion are faced military response by enemies. Jihad's announcement comes by a Mufti who assess all sides of the issue and who fears from the doomsday, because the Holy Quran describes the blood of one human equal to all humanity. Therefore, Jihad in Islam has defending side not invasive.

Root of terrorism ideology in Afghanistan;

Oliver Rwa, French writer believes that violence among Islamist groups in Afghanistan's geography is influenced by violence of Marxists because facing of Muslims and their combat with communists during three decades—50, 60 and 70, and their knowledge about Marxism made them violent and extremist. Communists extended terrorism and violence as a way of their combat among their supporters. Well-known figures among communists like Marks, Linen, Leon Trotsky and Stalin were considered as extenders and developers of terrorism and violence.

In political ideology, Nietzsche, a German philosopher is called the founder of terrorism is the manner, feeling and gratefulness are the specifications of an ill society. He advised that with kindness and caring you will postpone the process of curing the pain of vulnerable and deprived human being in a society. He also advised that let the intensity of venerable people's protests to increase and mount the social pressures on them aimed at establishing a group of anti-deprivation and this group will become the perpetrators of social deprivation.

German physiologists believe that Hitler's dictatorship is the outcome of Nietzsche's ideology.

The political history of Afghanistan narrates that political identity of Afghanistan is based on three principles.

Afghanistan from its establishment has been faced with intervention and invasion of world powers.

People of Afghanistan have always given response to invasions of foreigners and have made gains that their sacrifices and religious feelings of the people of Afghanistan is the golden page of this history and pride of Afghans' political identity.

Lack of Afghans' success to establish a united national system and leadership.

This issue has failed them to gain a united system for maintaining interests of the nation and save the country from anarchy and unrest as well as the pressures from regional governments or the religious and tribal shareholders, and have access to an administration which represents the national interest of all the society.

 After Ashraf Ghani took office as a specialist and scholar president with serious will, the hope for change in ideology of people and preventing the wrong traditions and costumes raised among people. But after the issue of cabinet formation on basis of the share of the NUG and convincing their shareholders as well as other political situations, changed this hope to sadness and absence of hope for future. People thought that their political fate in a geography under the name of Afghanistan, is considered their lifelong fate.

Questions answers session:

Question: Whether there was no violence before rise of communists in Afghanistan? Why communist who were Afghans continued to use violence as tool?

Answer:  Violence was always in Afghan society as we see most of the kings of Afghanistan have been killed, brother killed brother, son killed father. So in Afghanistan violence had taken deep roots. The violence which emerged during the Khalq Democratic Party (communist) it was not naturally created by them, but it was possible that if instead of the communist if there was another party in power has done the same. Violence was institutionalized even after fall of the communist regime in the country.

Americans also used violence as tool in Afghanistan to suppress the militants as well as common people. American urinated and burnt the dead bodies. Violence is part of the war. It will change shape and nature but will continue unless peace has been restored.

Questions: Whether suicide attackers emerged in the region after 9/11? Are they have only religious mindset?

Answer: People are motivated and trained for violence. The first suicide attack that took place was in Sialkot, Pakistan in 1965 when Pak army officials urged soldiers to tie bombs and attack Indian tanks. Today Pakistan has established many religious schools for producing and training suicide attacker. Terrorism is a mean to achieve political ends. Moreover, suicide bombing is easy and more result-oriented face to face fighting is so difficult for the extremists. Now they found the way where violence is increased. They behead people and film the process to terrorize others.

Question: Why Pakistan wants to use Pashtuns as tool to continue the war in the region and achieve its objectives?

Answer: The main issue is the vision of General Musharaf and use of Pashtuns which is a big ethnic group. Pakistan wants to use Pashtuns and what is among Pashtuns. Why Pashtuns were used for strategic goal of Pakistan. They sustained most casualties. What reasons and opportunities are available that Pakistan can use Pashtuns against Pashtuns or against all Afghans? We should search for opportunities from which all Afghans including Pashtuns can benefit and would not be misused by Pakistan.

Question: Whose war is going on in the region?

Answer: If we go through media reports and statements of the officials, it is clear that we are fighting someone else war. Terrorism has been sowed and spread to all parts of the globe. Those who want to support terrorism behind closed doors want to counter influence of China, India and some other countries. These are the people who are saying that war in Afghanistan is permissible but forbidden in Pakistan.

Question: How could we counter the extremist mindset and work for betterment of Afghans?

Answer: We have seen in Afghanistan that people have protested in favor of Egypt’s Morsi and on other political issues taking place outside Afghanistan, but when an Afghan child is killed in volleyball ground there is no protest. These people condemned communism but don’t see what they are doing. Communists were defamed by some foreign elements in the country. Those who were against communists and claiming the pro-Soviet Union leaders are violent, later we have seen that they themselves were violent and killed innocent people. This shows our double standard. Moreover, poverty and illiteracy are major problems. If we resolved these problems then mindset of public will change.

Question: What is the major reason behind wars and insecurity in Afghanistan?

Answer: We have different countries in neighborhood, but most of the time Pakistan sponsor terrorism and militancy. Islamabad does so because we have dispute over the Durand Line. The insecurity will continue unless the issue was resolved.

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