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By: Editorial |

November 24, 2020, 03.50.11





Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani expressed their determination to take a “leap of faith” to eliminate mistrust between the two countries.

The Prime Minister said a lot about Pakistan-Afghanistan relations Imran KhanHis visit to Kabul was the first in his two years in office. The timing is clearly tied to stalled intra-Afghan talks and transitions at the White House. The visit appeared to be aimed at sending a message to a large audience – to the newly arrived Biden Administration that Pakistan is sincere about its desire for peace in Afghanistan; to the government in Kabul that Islamabad is a friend, and is doing its best to achieve this goal; and to the Taliban, who Islamabad claims have been brought to the negotiating table for talks with the US, that they must stay on track.

“Intra-Afghan” talks in Doha between the Taliban and the Republic of Afghanistan delegation have been stuck for weeks with the two sides unable to agree on an agenda or timeframe. Both sides will oversee the transition at the White House, and what changes, if any, President-elect Joe Biden might make to US policy in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on his way out of the White House, President Donald Trump, who struck a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government getting involved in a foreign military departure from the country, has ordered a further troop withdrawal. This, even as the Taliban, which had ruled out a ceasefire before reaching an agreement with their compatriots, stepped up attacks on civilian and non-civilian targets in Afghanistan.

Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani expressed their determination to take a “leap of faith” to eliminate mistrust between the two countries. Both sides know that Pakistan-Afghanistan relations are linked to peace in Afghanistan, and vice versa. But peace-loving Afghans don’t trust the Taliban. They know that the generals in Rawalpindi have influence over the leadership of the Taliban, and provide them and others with shelter and safe haven like the Haqqani Network which is wreaking havoc in Afghanistan. They also know that for Pakistan, the Taliban are a protector against building Pashtun solidarity across borders, and against the irreconcilable Pakistani-Afghan views on the Durand Line. It cannot be helped that two days before the visit, the Pakistani government chose to attack India for purportedly using Afghan soil to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan, with an extension involving Kabul. Unsurprisingly, Ghani’s government has rejected the accusations outright.

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