This article was also published at Command Eleven.
For decades Pakistanis have been told that Afghanistan is a “brotherly Islamic country” with cultural and people-to-people ties with Pakistan. For decades Pakistan has also consistently faced long and short waves of terrorism and crimes, a good proportion of which can be traced to Afghanistan. When Pakistan helped Afghans against the invading Soviets, Pakistan made the biggest mistake since its independence by giving a safe passage to Afghan refugees into Pakistan. At the time, Pakistan had little idea that it will be stuck with the refugees for the next 30-40 years. Pakistan was hoping to end the war in Afghanistan soon and send back the refugees. What Pakistan didn’t expect was exactly what happened: Pakistan was slapped with sanctions by US government right after Pakistan helped US and Afghans defeat the Red Army in Afghanistan, which eventually led to the collapse of USSR in 1991. Here is almost-US President Hillary Clinton explaining it all very nicely:
Today Pakistan has realized most of its mistakes related to Afghanistan, even though US clearly hasn’t. But there’s one thing Pakistani leaders are still repeating: Afghanistan is our brotherly Islamic neighbor country.
No, it’s not. That is simply a crappy diplomatic line which no one in Pakistan buys anymore. At least not without rolling their eyes. Afghanistan was never a friend of Pakistan. The history of anti-Pakistan terrorism waged from or with support of Afghanistan is quite long and bloody. Here is a declassified CIA document explaining in detail the terrorist activities of Soviet-backed KHAD (Afghan intelligence agency) in and against Pakistan. Editorials and columns in American media addressing Afghan terrorism against Pakistan were a routine back in the day. Here are two from 1988: one from Washington Post and the other from LA Times. Both articles documented here sympathize with Pakistan and talk about the Afghan war of terror, backed by USSR, against Pakistan.
The only difference today is that most of the terrorism in Pakistan is supported in various ways by India-trained NDS (current Afghan intelligence agency) as it wages a war of terror against Pakistan right under the nose of the United States. Today, US is allied with India, the former ally of Soviets. Perhaps in the excitement to counter China, US has forgotten the sacrifices of Pakistan and its people, both of far past and near past. Today several Washington DC think tanks and talking heads blame Pakistan for the terrorism it faces despite Pakistan’s countless anti-terror military ops, all of them proving to be highly successful. The successes of these operations have been acknowledged by US Army’s General John Nicholson, UK Army Chief General Nicholas Patrick Carter and a senior Russian Army delegation. Most recently, a high level US Congressional delegation visited Pakistan and acknowledged Pakistan’s successes against terrorism. But despite all this, the policy in DC so far has been to blame Pakistan for all the troubles in Afghanistan, which is in stark contrast to how US defended and sympathized with Pakistan just a couple of decades back. All the players are still the same, the battlefield is the same, but interests have changed. This is true for both US and Pakistan.
Pakistan-Afghanistan also have nothing in common in culture or people. For starters, Pakistanis are not ungrateful like the Afghans. Afghan culture comes with baggage like abuse of women and children, pedophilia, bestiality, etc. That’s Afghan culture, not Pakistani culture.
Right now the most important thing for Pakistan is to counter the imminent terror threats originating from Afghan soil. That includes ISIS as well as the dozens of madrasas being run by Kabul regime and its intelligence agency where students are being taught to wage Jihad against Pakistan. Pakistan can no longer afford to tolerate this activity in its backyard. For years Pakistan has tried to be apologetic and balance its own interests with the US policy. It is time for Pakistan to put its interests 100% at the top.
Recently Pakistan Army’s spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, during a press conference, got a question from a PTV journalist. He asked, “for how long will Pakistan be apologetic and when will Pakistan strike terror camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles?” That question got an amused reaction from the General. But I think the journalist had a point. Pakistan needs to go on full offensive in Afghanistan. The time for apologia is over, as has been evident from Pak Army Chief’s recent tough statement made during meeting with General John Nicholson.
Pakistan’s policy makers can take their time debating which cruise missiles to hit the terror camps in Afghanistan with, but meanwhile it would be a good idea for Pakistan’s policymakers to stop telling Pakistanis that Afghanistan is a brotherly Islamic country.