April 16th, 2011
If there were ever a spring full of surprises, it is definitely this one. As I was reading the news this morning, my eyes met the headline “Afghan and Pakistani Leaders Meet in Peace Bid.” According to the report, much of Pakistan’s civilians and military leadership flew to Kabul to meet with their leadership in order to discuss joint future ventures. While such talks have happened before, this was the first time that such negotiations were heavily attended by Pakistani leadership.
The Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani said that “a war in Afghanistan can destabilize Pakistan and vice versa so we need a common strategy.” Pakistan urged Afghanistan to join forces with it and not rely on Western involvement so heavily but to identify China as an ally.
In my opinion, this is a pleasant surprise which could not be better-timed. Cooperation between these countries is critical to the success of any peace negotiations with the insurgents, some of who, have had long-standing ties with Pakistani intelligence. One important aspect of these talks is that the U.S has finally recognized that in view of the faltering support it received in Afghanistan and Pakistan, war is not the only answer to the problems. Instead, a political route must be taken.
Despite the need of such talks, it cannot be denied that has taken the international community by surprise. The question is ‘why now?’ This clearly shows that the relations between these countries and the way the governments handle such issues are not transparent at all. Analysts hypothesize that because the image of U.S. continues to worsen among the Pakistani public, the Pakistani government has become eager to bypass the U.S. and find more favorable allies. This seems plausible because in the past Pakistanis have ‘not been shy about reminding Western countries and Afghanistan that there cannot be a deal without their support’ but that did not appear the case during these talks as it excluded any U.S. representation. In the end, building trust needs to be the number one priority of Pakistan and Afghanistan if something good is to come out of it.