By Omar Sharifi, director of American institute of Afghanistan Studies
After 6 decades, Pakistan relation with its neighbors, especially Afghanistan remained stormy and estranged due to several reasons, most importantly, Afghanistan claims over NWFP, Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan and what is seem to be unrealistic claims of Afghan and Pakistani leaders over each others. This turned the region into hotbed of terrorist and fundamentalist groups which not only threatens regional security but poses a grave danger to world security as well.
With hostile India to the East, Pakistan always believes that it can ill-afford having a stable and independent Afghanistan as his western neighbor. Since 1947 both countries have interfered in each other’s internal affairs. Though with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan in a unique opportunity of waging a proxy war in Afghanistan, garnering the support of Western and Arab allies for its new Afghan policy. Since the end of Cold war, Pakistan continued its forward policy in Afghanistan first, through support of several Mujahidin groups and later the Taliban. The prime security interest of Pakistan remains having a Pakistani friendly government in Kabul. It is believed that by having a friendly government in Kabul, it will not only end the long dispute over Durand line, but provide itself with a strategic depth against possible threats from India.
Pakistan is one of Afghanistan’s most strategically important neighbors. From a geo-political standpoint, Afghanistan’s location at the crossroads of the south and central Asia has always been critical. From its creation in 1947, Pakistan inherited a unique and difficult security situation. Its creation on religious basis rather than historical or geographical loogic, increased its social and cultural instability while posed an increasing challenge to its national cohesion and identity. On the other hand its antagonistic relationship with India, much more powerful and stable, when combined with an unfriendly Afghanistan, increased Pakistani insecurity.
Given this security environment, Pakistan used to look toward Afghanistan, at least from 1947 till 1979 as a potential friend in the region. Realizing that landlocked Afghanistan was economically depended on Pakistan, and given that both countries are Muslim, Pakistan assumed that Afghanistan will be a natural friend, give up its territorial claims and maintain friendly, cordial and mutually beneficial relation. However, during the last five decades, the relations between both countries never ran a smooth course. Though, after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan’s view has changed from being a friendly Muslim neighbor to dominating Afghanistan and pushing toward Central Asia.
This paper reviews Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy from 1947 till now. It recommends Pakistan effective and constructive engagement with Afghanistan. While Pakistan protects its legitimate security concerns, the paper emphasis that it must refrain from actively interfering in Afghanistan political issues, stop supporting terrorists and insurgency and middling in Afghan affairs. Besides the stabilization of the region requires that United States and other major regional players substantively remain engaged in Afghanistan to stabilize the region, assist with the reconstruction of Afghanistan, ensure non-interference of regional actors and finally and most importantly help settle border disputes including the Durand Line once and for all.
1. First Period (1947 - 1979)
From 1947 to 1979, the issues related to Durand Line and Pashtunistan formed the basis of Afghan/Pakistan relation. Afghanistan was the only country not to vote in favor of the admission of Pakistan in the UN. Pakistan from its birth faced difficult situation in both eastern and western borders. There was Kashmir problem with India, and border disputes with Afghanistan, created a nightmarish view situation for Pakistan. Facing with two hostile geo-political environments, it could not afford a second front toward her west. With this pre-condition, Pakistan shaped its Afghan policy. However, Afghanistan did not view the situation in quite the same way – rather, Afghanistan had its own agendas.
The Durand line, which is the legacy of “Great Game” between two major colonial powers, Russia and Britain, remained in the heart of Afghan government’s strategic thinking toward Pakistan. From the time when the Afghan government signed the treaty in 1893, till 1947, it was reaffirmed three more times by successive Afghan governments. After the end of British rule in the subcontinent, the Afghan government argued that the treaty is no longer legitimate and lay claims to all land between the border the Indus River. On the other hand, because Pakistan contends that Pashtuns voted for Pakistan in the 1947 referendum in Peshawar, it, therefore, refutes validity of Afghanistan’s claim. On the other hand, Pakistan claimed that Afghanistan concern for the unity of Pashtuns is not genuine because it does not include the Pashtuns on its side of the line in the proposed state of “Pashtunistan”.
The Pakistan’s policy in this period is characterized with the idea of following a policy of restrain and patience towards Afghanistan. As Pakistan was tied in two fronts, she was most anxious to avoid any clash with Afghanistan. Thus, it did not to let any disorder develop on its western border. The only option viable for Pakistanis was to keep the status quo, strengthening its own security and trying to convince Afghan leaders about the futility of the claims. In general, the Pakistan policy towards Afghanistan was characterized as “reactionary”. A significant foreign policy achievement took place in 1976 regarding Afghan relations with Pakistan, when President Daud Khan became convinced that his policies toward Pakistan were causing more harm to his government than good. He tried to normalize relations with Pakistan. Before both sides can take further steps, Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan was overthrown in 1977 and Daud Khan himself was killed in a bloody communist coup d’état in 1978. These events precipitated the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Thus, a new chapter in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations opened.
To summarize the main outlines of Afghan/Pak policies toward this period, it is very evident that Pakistan achieved a degree of success in its policies toward Afghanistan. First, Pakistan achieved significant success with regard to the major issues of the Durand Line and Pashutnistan by convincing Afghan leaders about the futility of the claim on both of the issues, thus bringing Afghan leaders to the negotiating table for a resolution of the dispute. Second, despite Afghanistan’s cold relations with Pakistan, and much warmer and closer relations with India, during the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan, Afghanistan remained neutral, not supporting India, as expected
Pakistan policy 1979 - 1989
A major change took place in Pakistan’s policy toward Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. This event completely changed the complexion of the region. The Red Army presence in Afghanistan posed a direct threat to regional stability. Pakistani planners saw this event as a prelude to further communist expansion in the region and possible Afghan/Soviet claims into the disputed border region. At the very least, Communist victory had the potential of creating permanent border threat, since the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan was perceived to be indefinite. Furthermore, because of the mass exodus of Afghans, what soon became the settlement of millions of Afghan refugees poses a threat of another kind, this one on the country’s economic prosperity and national security.
In the immediate context, Pakistan, a strategically located country, became vulnerable to communist expansion. Keeping in view of its historically rough relationship with both Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had direct, wide-ranging and far-reaching impacts upon Pakistan’s internal and external security. Earlier, Afghan armed forces were too weak to pose any serious threat to Pakistan, and both Bhutto and Zia, could pursue their Afghan Policy by themselves, without the support of any outside power.
Although the situation created challenges for Pakistan, as it was forced to confront an ideologically hostile super power but simultaneously it also created opportunities that Pakistan could redress some of its security concerns by neutralizing previous bitter experience with regard to Afghanistan. Another positive aspect of the Soviet invasion was renewed U.S. interests in Pakistan. As Pakistan expert Marvin Weinbaum put it, “Pakistan’s strategic objectives became convergent with those of the United States”. Pakistani politicians capitalized on this newly created strategic opportunity. Gen. Zia’s comments in March 1980 clearly indicate Pakistani politicians’ capitalization of this new opportunity, “you take Pakistan out of this region and you will find that you have not an inch of soil where American can has influence.” The Gen. Zia made use of this new situation to strengthen his armed forces, and, in the process, ensure the survival of his own regime and empowerment of hardliner elements within the army and intelligence apparatus. U.S. put non-proliferation issue on the back burner, lifting their arms embargo. A debt of $ 5.1 billion was rescheduled. China also declared full support for Pakistan. So, too, did Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other conservative Muslim countries. In 1982 President Reagan gave another $ 3.2 billion in aid to Pakistan.
Pakistan had three immediate option to deal with the Afghan issue first, it could acquiesce, accepting the Soviet invasion as a fait accompli. Second, it could provide all-out military support for Afghan Mujahidin, thus helping them to achieve their objectives of eliminating an adversary by force. Third, with the assistance of United States, Europe and Islamic countries, it could bring political pressure to bear on the Soviet Union, along with covertly assisting the Mujahidin.
Regarding all these issues, Pakistan had certain limitation. It could not sustain supporting the Mujahidin in long term by itself, considering possible Soviet retaliation. Therefore, to form a covert support for Mujahidin with the active support and involvement of the U.S. and Islamic countries became prime strategy of combating Soviets in Afghanistan.
For Pakistani politicians, the first line of defense against Soviet threat and especially Afghan claims over border areas was to strengthen the hardliner elements within the resistance, thus, the hope was that Soviet forces would get bogged down in Afghanistan, while trying to maintain control over the supply weapons to the Afghan resistance. Therefore, Pakistan, skillfully managed to raise, organize and enable the Afghan guerrillas, with strong emphasis on the radical and fundamentalist elements within the resistance.
Apart from supporting Afghan Mujahidin, Pakistan used this opportunity, not only to strengthen Pakistan’s armed forces, but also to forward Pakistan’s nuclear program and prolong its own domination of Afghan political arena in the years after the war. Although Pakistan’s short-term policy objectives were to ensure the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, Pakistani policy makers could also see that their long-term objective of establishing a friendly government in Afghanistan might be hastened by their effort, a well.
Among the seven recognized Afghan resistance parties, some were closer to the Pakistani establishment than others were. The Islamists section which particularly favoured by Pakistan was Hizb (Hekmtyar party) due to its having close ties with the Pakistani Jama’at e Islami, both dominated predominantly by Pashtuns.
In the meantime, the role of the ISI, or Pakistan’s intelligence agency dramatically increased between 1983 and 1986. As the ISI emerged as prime distributer and supplier of arms and weapons to resistance groups, it gradually dominated all decision making processes on Afghanistan. The most significant role played by ISI was the establishment of the seven – party alliance in 1984/ this alliance considerably reduced the unity and caused gradual decline of Afghan nationalist elements within the resistance while focus and support shifted toward more pro-Pakistani and transnational elements. This shift, to a degree caused confusion between different power circles within the Pakistani government. While the civilian authorities, centered in the Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, continued to try to balance the influence of ISI in Afghan affairs by pushing for diplomatic solutions, the role of ISI continued to increase to a level that almost totally overshadowed that of the foreign ministry.
Pakistan skillfully organized and manipulated the Afghan resistance movement against communist forces, simultaneously putting diplomatic pressure on the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan. Pakistan achieved its short-term objective when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, in accordance with the Geneva Accord agreement. However, it failed to achieve its long-term goal of establishing a Pakistani friendly government in Afghanistan by putting pro-Pakistani Mujahidin elements in Kabul. This situation besides the fading U.S. interest in the region after Soviet withdrawal, added the fragile situation of war-torn Afghanistan that subsequently led to the emergence of the hardliner Taliban and other terrorist groups such as Al Qaida. Despite these, Pakistan was able to achieve its first objective, and its Afghan policy won broad-based international sympathy and support. The impact of this policy was that Pakistan’s armed forces received state-of-the art military hardware. Not only was its potential of withstanding pressure from India increased, but funds became available for further advancing its expansionist policies toward Afghanistan and Central Asia. Besides, more importantly, Washington seemed obliged to turn blind eye toward Pakistan’s nuclear program and most importantly Washington based its Afghan policy on Pakistani perspective, something which we have witnessed its devastating effects in Afghanistan and region.
After the Soviet withdrawal, it was Pakistan’s long-term objective that made Pakistan’s Afghan policy-makers strive to continue their involvement in Afghanistan. ISI remained committed to installing a pro-Pakistan Islamist government in Kabul. As a result, the hardliners in the ISI and the Army were in stronger position than ever before.
Pakistan policy: 1989 – 2008
Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union appeared confused, and gradually formed on the basis of unrealistic concept of establishing a pro-Pakistani regime in Kabul and expanding toward the newly independent Central Asian states. In this phase, ISI emerged as the chief architect of Pakistan’s Afghan policy. Dr. Najibullah’s government collapsed after three and half years of war and replaced with Mujahidin factions who started to fight each other for control of the country. The Afghan leaders were unable to form a consensus due to continuing middling and interference of neighboring countries, mainly Pakistan.
Since the Soviet withdrawal, a number of factors came into play that made the Afghanistan’s situation highly complicated. Perhaps the most salient factors are the failure of the international community to support the establishment of a stable government. The U.S. policy of distancing itself from the region, and subsequently collapse of the Soviet Union, created a political gap in the region. Additionally, the emergence of the new Central Asian Republics, each arising as a consequence of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, brought about political and economic changes in the region, further aggravating the situation. Continued Pakistani interferences created an opportunity for external elements, including other neighboring countries and caused a conflict of interest which further aggravated the bloody civil war in Afghanistan.
The post Soviet withdrawal phase of Pakistan’s policy needs to be studies Central Asian Republicsefully as it is directly related the subsequent later events which caused so much trouble and tragedy to Afghanistan and the world.
This phase Pakistani policy toward Afghanistan can be divided into three periods:
1- Phase I (1989 - 1992) The Mujahidin struggle to remove Dr. Najibullah’s regime
2- Phase II (1992 - 1994) Civil War in Afghanistan between different Mujahidin factions
3- Phase III (1994 - 2008) the emergene of Taliban and Afghan Resistance against Taliban/Al Qaida and international terrorism.
After the Soviet withdrawal, it is widely believed that Kabul government would be defeated in matter of days or weeks. The Pakistani government quickly mobilized different Afghan Mujahidin factions into an Afghan interim Government in Feb 1989. The ISI, as chief planner of the policy, massed several Mujahidin factions to attack and capture of a major city to install the Afghan Interim Government. This was a catastrophic miscalculation. The battle for Jalalabad turned out to be a disastrous defeat for Mujahidin. Thousands of Mujahidin were killed or wounded. The stalemate continued until April 1992 mostly due to Dr. Najibullah’s determination, generous Soviet support and increasing disunity among Afghan Mujahidin factions. Subsequently, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brings an end to Dr. Najibullah’s government. Deprived of Soviet support, it gradually collapsed under constant pressure from Mujahidin groups, mainly from the north, who were not close allies of Pakistan. with the withdrawal of the Soviet and it is subsequent collapse of Kabul regime followed by another withdrawal, according to Ahmad Rashid, the U.S. withdrawal. The CIA handed over charge of its Afghan policy to its allies in the region, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. For Afghans, these two states, especially Pakistan, which had backed the extremists among the Mujahidin and had sabotaged any hope of an Afghanistan national governments’ emerging was a bitter reward.
The bloody civil war which followed the collapse of Kabul regime further aggravated by constant Pakistan interference on behalf of extremist Afghan Mujahidin factions. The ISI continuously provided Kabul opposition factions with military as well as financial support. The failure of pro-Pakistani Mujahidin parties to topple Kabul government and with increasing chaos in the country and as a direct consequence of appalling conditions, in 1994 The Taliban, who were consisted of frustrated Afghan religious students, Pakistani volunteers, Arab and other international Islamists, with the direct financial and logistic support of Pakistan and several other Arab countries emerged in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, who later marched to southern Afghanistan and took control of almost all Southern Afghanistan by the end of the year. Despite all controversial claims, the spread of Taliban power in Afghanistan was directly supported and coordinated by Pakistan ISI agents and Army. Pakistan support for Taliban is based on several well developed ideas. Establishing a friendly government in Afghanistan has been long-held desire. However, the emergence of Central Asian Republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union brought renewed interest to the region. Successive Pakistani governments were anxious to open up direct land routes for trade with Central Asia. On the other hand, control over Afghanistan provides Pakistan with safe bases for training militants who later will be sent to Indian controlled Kashmir to fuel uprising against India. Benazir’s Bhutto’s interior minister, Maj. Gen. Naseeruallh Babar, along with other major ISI operatives advocated for further support for Taliban. Gen. Babar considered the Taliban to be a perfect tool or Pakistan in opening up trade routes in into Central Asia and a safe haven for pro Pakistani militants in Kashmir. To coordinate its assistance to the Taliban, an Afghan Cell was created in the Ministry of Interior. The ISI provided transportation, fuel, communications equipment and advice in the first phases of Taliban march toward Kabul, and later troops for Taliban. The Taliban also enjoyed support from Pakistani religious elements. For example, the Jamiat-e-Ulma-e-Islam of Fazul Rehman, as well as the famous Akora Khattak madrassa, headed by Maulana Sami Ul Haq, all lent their support, through ISI, to Taliban. The ISI coordinated funding Taliban through attracting financial support from Islamist groups, Arab Sheikhdoms and terrorist groups such as Al Qaida.
Pakistan accorded the Taliban diplomatic recognition on May 25, 1997, after Mazar-e-Sharif had fallen to the Taliban or the first time. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates followed the suit two days later.
According to Ahmad Rashid, The Pakistani military considered its support to the Taliban as part of the country’s strategic national interest. Since the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the ISI had tried to bring its various Afghan proxies to power in Kabul in the search of a friendly Afghan government that would keep rival India out of Afghanistan. The Talban had provided just such a government, even if their extremism was now an embarrassment. Pakistan also felt the need to support the Afghan Pashtuns because of the large Pashtun population in Pakistan and because the non-Pashtuns had sought support from India, Iran and Russia. The Pakistani military also determined that a friendly government in Afghanistan would provide Pakistan with “strategic depth” in any future conflict with India, a theory that had been strongly dismissed by Pakistani civilian strategic thinkers but which the military continued to espouse refusing to acknowledge the destabilizing fallout from the Taliban inside Pakistan: the growth of extremism and sectarianism.
Politically by recognizing the Taliban regime, Pakistan opted for an “open play” and high-risk policy with regard to Afghanistan. In attempting to dominate Afghanistan, Pakistan did not consider the reactions of its neighbors. For example Iran, a traditionally close friend, was never happy with the Taliban. Official recognition by Pakistan further widened the gulf between these two countries. This policy also caused deep resentment among Central Asian Republics. As a consequence, the Central Asian states started to consider Pakistan as the main nexus and epicenter of extremism in the region.
Additionally, by recognizing the Taliban, Pakistan gave preference to the Pashtuns, thereby alienating non-Pashtuns and turn Afghan civil war into a rather semi ethnic conflict. On the other hand, with the ever increasing role of international terrorist organizations within the Taliban regime, especially in terms of providing financial and military support in Taliban war against the Resistance movement, the Pakistani government started to lose its grip over Taliban and was no longer capable of controlling and managing Taliban. The Taliban transformed themselves from being a subservient political client, into a regime closely connected to international terrorist networks that could easily destabilize Pakistan itself. The Taliban to reduce their dependency to Pakistan’s government (while keeping its ties with the ISI and Army as strong as always), and to get some autonomy, began cultivating close ties with Osama bin Laden. He set up private bases in different parts of South and Eastern Afghanistan, not only support Taliban financially but also sending thousands of Arabs and other international terrorists to fight Taliban enemies in the northern Afghanistan and Indians in Kashmir. Despite this, the Pakistan’s government, army and ISI not only did not reduce their support but increased their military and financial support for Taliban. As a clear example of this, according to Resistance sources, during the Taliban main offensive in2000 against Massoud’s stronghold in Takhar, several units of Pakistan’s army participated on Taliban side. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pakistan left with the difficult choice. Either it had to join the U.S. war against Taliban and other terror networks, or had to persist with its strong pro-Taliban Afghan policy, and suffer the consequences. Therefore, Pakistan, after the 9/11 attacks changes tactics, not strategy in its Afghan policies and sided with the United States. Therefore, within two months after 9/11 attacks, the Taliban was routed and retreated back to its original places in Afghan Pakistan border areas.
To briefly summarize and analyze Pakistan’s Afghan policy, its objectives have been:
1- To establish a Pakistan friendly/dependent government in Afghanistan. It is perceived that a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan would give Pakistan “Strategic Depth” against India.
2- To secure access to Central Asian markets.
3- To gain safe route for oil and gas pipeline from Central Asia to Persian gulf.
4- To put an end in all border disputes with Afghanistan
Pakistan was unable to achieve any of its above mentioned objectives. A failure which could be attributed to flaws and misconception in its Afghan policy, as well as to other contributing factors. Taken together, this not made it only difficult to achieve expansion and security, but also its entire national cohesion and stability faces with serious questions.
When analyzing Pakistan policies in post Soviet era in Afghanistan, we face with number of flaws, listed below:
a- The entire policy is based on wrong assumption, that with the withdrawal of Soviet Union the pro-Pakistani Mujahidin factions will be able to establish Islamabad friendly government in Kabul. With the emergence of Taliban, Pakistan assumed that they will be able to capture all Afghanistan, thus Pakistan will be able to reach Central Asian Repubvlics. On the other hand Pakistan hoped, and it seems still believes that a Taliban dominated government in Kabul would be permanently friendly to Pakistan and they will recognize Durand Line and curb Pashtun nationalism. Though certain elements within the Taliban proved these assumption by attacking cultural and historical symbols of Pashtuns identity (destruction of Rahman Baba shrine in Peshawar), it is very unlikely that this happens. While, several Pakistani analysts fear the emergence of a powerful Pashtunistan movement. ISI and Army still nurture the idea that Taliban can be a strategic asset as NATO and U.S. will leave Afghanistan any way.
b- Continuation of support for Islamic extremists within Afghanistan, strongly contributed to destabilization of Pakistan itself.
c- Increasing ISI role in Pakistan decision making processes on Afghan affairs undermined civilian leadership, thus, changed the balance within Pakistan in favour of more radical elements.
d- Pakistan’s internal, political instability also contributed to its failure to form any long-term Afghan policy. Between the time of President Zia’s death in 1988 to 2008, a total of six changes took place in Pakistan. For the first time, it was apparent that Pakistan’s Afghan policy and its domestic policy were not coordinated, having an adverse affect on the outcome of its Afghan policy. Consequently, there is a lack of coordination between different departments having anything to do with Afghan affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is rarely involved in Afghan policy, ISI and the Ministry of Interior often made independent decisions, without consulting each other, or balancing each other’s role in dealing with Afghan affairs. Thus there is no any coherent policy toward Afghanistan.
e- Afghan history and Afghans national characteristics prove that too much involvement in Afghan internal affairs tends to raise the reaction of all ethnic and religious groups. Rely on one political or ethnic group to achieve long-term objectives is a wrong policy in Afghanistan. It proves to be counterproductive in all levels. A more broad based policy which includes different layers of Afghan society may be more helpful in establishing peace in the region.
f- Any successful approach to solve Afghan problem can only be achieved whenever there is a regional consensus. Unilateral approach by Pakistan only contributed to further violence and destabilization of the region.
g- Pakistan neither had the resources nor institutional capability to sustain a client regime in Kabul. The burden will be so heavy that will certainly destabilize Pakistan and cause its subsequent collapse as a country.
Today, despite, all the deficiencies mentioned above, elements within Pakistan government continue to support extremists and Taliban. The ISI continues to host Taliban leadership and provide them with logistical and military support. When Afghanistan is burning in the fire of insurgency which is fueled and supported by ISI and other terrorist networks, Pakistan is starting to face the same challenges that Afghan experienced since 1992. Despite overwhelming rejection of extremists and Taliban in recent Pakistani elections, the border areas are witnessing increasing Talibanization, where schools are burned and Pashtun intellectuals are systematically targeted.
Pakistan needs to review its long-term strategic policy; it must take into account the dynamic changes in the global and regional environment. Pakistan needs to develop a link between its Afghan policy and the prevalent situation against the regional and global level. Given the course of analysis, and the likely political disposition in Afghanistan, as well as its potential effect on Pakistan, the formulation of any Pakistan-Afghanistan policy should arise out of the strategies of bilateral cooperation and reassurances. A policy of constructive bilateral engagement is recommended.
Unlike the argument by most of Pakistani analysts, the current crisis of Afghanistan is not based on ethnic lines. It is rather shaped and determined by ideological and trans-national factors. The regions of South and Central Asia will not see stability unless there is a new global compact among the leading players, The United States, the European Union, NATO, the UN and other major regional powers to help this region resolve its problems, which range from settling Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan to funding massive development programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly border areas.
The Pakistan army has to put the rest of its notion of a centralized state based solely on defense against India and an expansionist, Islamic strategic military doctrine at the expense of rule of law and democracy. Pakistan needs to redefine its national interests and curtail the spread of extremism and militancy. While the Afghans need to establish a system of governance capable of delivering services to the people and be relatively free of tribalism, sectarianism and corruption, the Pakistan needs to focus on putting an end to terrorist and Taliban bases in its territory.
Of course, solution is a difficult objective, especially for a part of the world that suffers thirty years of war and systematic devastation, but the people should understand that unless their nations move toward greater democracy, the current chaos and violence will overwhelm them. This chaos will be not contained in the borders of Afghanistan and even Pakistan, it will spread to the other parts of the world.