DON’T SPOIL PAK-AFGHAN TIES
By Amir Yousaf
It was really shocking to read the interview of the Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Shiri Amar Sinha, on the 68th Independence Day of India. Sadly, the Ambassador went beyond his diplomatic mandate and spat out venom against Pakistan in his interview to Tolo TV – a major TV channel in Afghanistan -on 15th August, 2014. During his one hour interview, Amar Sinha chose to target Pakistan by leveling baseless allegations against it dubbing Pakistan as nursery for terrorists. Realistically speaking, he was not supposed to speak against Pakistan while using the soil of a friendly neighbouring country with the intention to harm Pak-Afghan relationship. The Ambassador has also attempted, apart from the allegations, to interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs by suggesting to empower the present government in Pakistan for taking measures to improve relations with its neighbours. It appears from the interview that the Ambassador seems to have been sent to Kabul with a specific agenda to sow seeds of mistrust and create rift between Pakistan and Afghanistan as he alleged that Pakistan is promoting proxy war in Afghanistan. It runs contrary to the diplomatic norms to use the soil of a third country to blame Pakistan and interfere in its internal affairs.
Amar Sinha accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, of using Taliban as tool to promote proxy war in Afghanistan. Shockingly, he did not mince his words and unequivocally said that Pakistan was the nursery for training terrorists. When his attention was drawn towards the Indian support to Mullah Fazlullah, the chief of Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP), he answered that “there is a report that he crosses over to Kunnar and then goes back but the fact is he is not addressing public rallies in Afghanistan. Does he speak on television here? Does he come out in the stadium? What does Hafiz Sayeed of LeT do? He goes to Parliament and addresses Senators. So these politicians who talked about Mullah Radio (Fazlullah) need to look at home what is happening and if they think that they could protect Hafiz Sayeed and other elements within Pakistan, there will be elements who will protect somebody else”. It is evident from the answer of the Ambassador that he boldly admitted to supporting Fazlullah as well as using Afghan soil to settle score with Pakistan. If India is so openly supporting and defending Fazlullah case, my advice to the Indian government would be to grant him refuge in their country.
When the Indian Ambassador was asked that Pakistan had been blaming Indian RAW agents for their support to Pushtoon and Baloch to carry out terrorist activities in Baluchistan, the answer of the envoy was very strange who termed it as an exaggerated fear by Pakistan. The Pakistani nation and the international community cannot be misled by the ridiculous answer of the envoy as they are aware of the fact that all insurgents, militants, terrorists and extremists are being supported, financed and trained by the RAW to undertake terrorists’ activities in Balochistan, KPK and other parts of the country. The Ambassador would agree with me that it is not easier to carry out terrorists attacks in Pakistan without the active support and patronage of India. Pakistan has been waging war on terror since 2001 and the international community has been recognizing Pakistan’s anti-terror contribution and sacrifices. The one and half decade war played havoc with our national economy that suffered to the tune of US$ 100 billion losses. Our armed forces and civilian population lost about 6,000 soldiers and 55,000 civilians respectively. It is an open secret and every Pakistani knows that India is behind the terrorist activities and destabilization of Pakistan.
The Ambassador also mentioned that India has been playing its role for the reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Pakistan has no reservation over Indian efforts in the rebuilding of our neighbouring country. But we do have legitimate concerns against Indian hostile role as it has been training and sending terrorists to Pakistan to carry out terrorists’ activities there. This fact was admitted by the Indian Ambassador who strongly defended his country support to TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah in his interview. Interestingly, the Indian love for Afghanistan, in my view, is really un-understandable. Because this spirit was not there during the former Soviet Union’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. India was vehemently supporting former Soviet Union stance and policies on Afghanistan at that time. Unfortunately, we have very short memories to remember the bitter facts that millions of Afghans were killed in over a decade long Soviet-Afghan war and India was the staunch supporter of Soviet Union. If India is really a friend of Afghanistan, its efforts should only be focused on Afghanistan’s development rather than harming Pak-Afghan ties.
While Ambassador Sinha’s interview is an overt effort to spoil Pak-Afghan relations, the covert efforts in this regard have been continuing since long by the Indian advisors working at various Afghan departments.
The envoy also referred in his interview to the budgetary allocation of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, saying that fifty percent of the Pakistan’s budget goes to the military. The basic responsibility of Ambassador is to work for the promotion of bilateral relationship with Afghanistan. He has absolutely no right to comment our budgetary allocation and role of our Armed Forces. Such remarks are amounting to interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan. Pakistan has been facing enormous security challenges on internal and external fronts and it makes budgetary allocation for its defence keeping in view its security requirements.
It has been the policy of the Indian government to create tension within the region particularly with its neighbours. It has hardly demonstrated sincerity to promoting bilateral relations with Pakistan and resolving all outstanding issues, including the Kashmir dispute. It is an established fact, since long, that the Indian leadership did not spare an opportunity to blame Pakistan. Here, I would refer to the recent visit of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to Laddakh where he blamed Pakistan for waging a proxy war. Regrettably, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan had lost strength to fight the conventional war but continued to engage in the proxy war of terrorism. These accusations by the Prime Minister were really very unfortunate especially at a time when the leadership of Pakistan wished to establish good neighbourly relations with India. The Prime Minister of India does not seem to be keen to improve bilateral ties with Pakistan. He took a tough stand on Pak-India Secretary level talks and cancelled, unexpectedly, talks between the two countries scheduled to take place on August 25, 2014 in Islamabad. The talks were cancelled in response to a meeting held between Pakistan High Commissioner to New Delhi and the Kashmiri leaders. Indian leadership over reacted to the meeting as it was not for the first time but such meetings and inter-actions had been taking place since long between the Pakistan High Commissioner and Kashmiri leaders. So the Indian decision about cancellation of talks is highly unreasonable and unjustified. The New York Times it its editorial also criticized the Indian decision in this regard.
India has always shown recalcitrant attitude and has never reciprocated to the goodwill gesture shown by Pakistan. In the recent past, Pakistan handed over an Indian Border Security Force soldier, Satyasheel Yadav, to Indian authorities, in the first week of August, 2014 who had crossed over to Pakistan. According to the soldier, he was treated very well and comfortably by Pakistan’s authorities during his detention. But a day after Pakistan returned the detained soldier as a gesture of goodwill, Pakistani authorities received the dead body of a villager, Kala Khan, killed by the Indian Security Forces along the Line of Control. Kala Khan had gone missing while cutting grass for his animals. His postmortem showed that he was shot from point blank range. It shows that India avoids to reciprocate to Pakistan’s goodwill gesture. India also continued unprovoked firing across the Working Boundary in Sialkot Sector on 10th and 23rd August, 2014. The firing resulted in four civilian casualties and injured nine others including women and children. Indian Security forces also resort to unprovoked shelling along LoC targeting Pakistan territory.
I would suggest to the Indian envoy to focus on his professional responsibilities rather than spoiling Pak-Afghan relationship. He should play his role constructively, as a professional diplomat, to restrain from using Afghan soil against Pakistan and creating rift between the two brotherly neighbouring countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan. A good diplomat is who stays away from the controversy and earns a good name for his country. I hope he would act upon my advice to spend his remaining period in Afghanistan professionally and responsibly by contributing to the promotion of friendly ties not only with Afghanistan but Pakistan as well.