Pakistan Afghanistan issue
Afghanistan and Pakistan share multiple strands of culture, history, religion, and civilization, but the two countries have never succeeded in establishing bilateral relations free of tensions. Rather, passive antagonism and mistrust have marked bilateral ties for the larger part of more than half a century following the creation of Pakistan. The intensity of hostility has varied under different regimes in Afghanistan, however, and though brief periods of cordiality have occurred as well, these have never been enough to provide a consistent positive direction.
Although relations were stable to some extent under the Afghan monarchy and opposing claims over the boundary and tribes in the frontier region did not provoke serious conflict, a feeling of estrangement prevailed. The two states developed very different strategic visions and perceptions of regional roles, and became enmeshed in competing structures of global power. Their opposite tendencies in foreign and security policies manifested finally in the superpower contest of the 1980s; the Afghan government hosted the Soviet forces while Pakistan aligned with both the Afghan mujahideen rebels and the United States to defeat the Red Army.
As the effects of the Soviet-Afghan War spilled over into Pakistan in the form of millions of Afghan refugees and tens of thousands of armed fighters, Pakistan became deeply involved in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. The civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Front (comprised of Afghan factions), which forced every neighboring country to engage in a regional "great game," drew Pakistan closer to the Taliban. The Northern Front leaders, who benefited from Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, blamed Pakistan for the suffering and pain that the Taliban inflected on them. In terms of the war on terrorism, the past continues to overshadow the shared quest of defeating terrorist groups that threaten both countries and to frustrate the efforts of countries in the international community that also share this interest.
Thorns in the Relationship
Relations between the two countries have been particularly strained ever since the Taliban were forced from power in 2001. Over the years, Afghan leaders have become convinced that Pakistan is actually aiding the Taliban – especially its most virulent faction, the Haqqani Network, which is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Kabul. They believe that Pakistan intends to destabilize their government and bring the Taliban back to power. As U.S. forces have pulled back from areas along the border in Afghanistan, elements of the Pakistani Taliban have taken refuge inside Afghanistan. From there they have targeted Pakistani military posts. The Pakistani army has responded by lobbing thousands of artillery shells into Afghanistan, leading to fierce condemnations in Kabul. Exchanges of fire between Afghan and Pakistani forces are common along remote stretches where insurgents and smugglers (not to mention tribes that straddle the border) cross freely in both directions, almost as if the border did not exist. Accusations by each side are often contradictory and difficult to verify. Most of the border is not demarcated. Forces on each side operate from conflicting maps and occasionally cross over during routine patrols and operations. The Pakistani military accuses Afghan leaders of intentionally escalating border incidents for political effect. Anti-Pakistan sentiment runs deep in Afghanistan and unites its fractious population more than almost anything else. Afghan leaders prefer to paint the Taliban insurgency as a tool of a foreign power rather than a domestic problem. The Afghanistan-Pakistan border, known as the Durand Line, is among the longest disputed borders in the world. Successive Afghan leaders have refused to recognize it as an official boundary and have maintained irredentist claims to the Pashtun areas of Pakistan. There are nearly 30...
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