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The Pakistan And Afghan Relations History Essay

Info: 5516 words (22 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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Pakistan and Afghanistan are immediate neighbors having 2240 km common border formally known as Durand Line. Despite shared geography, ethnicity and faith, relations with Afghanistan have never been smooth rather a painful experience for Pakistan. With the Indian threat looming from the East, Afghanistan hostile attitude has added further in the fragile security environment challenging very existence of Pakistan. Ian Stephon termed such a security scenario enveloping simultaneously from the East and the West as a ‘pincer movement’ aiming to crush still born Pakistan. [1] A secure and friendly North-Western border has always been Pakistan’s desire and security requirement vis-à-vis India which, could never get materialized because of Afghanistan’s hostile attitude. With the sole exception of the four years of Taliban rule (1997-2001) over Afghanistan, successive governments in Kabul have displayed varying degrees of disaffection towards Islamabad. [2] Issues of Pukhtunistan and Durand line, at the heart of such hostile/ unfriendly attitude and antagonistic relations, resulted from Afghanistan’s ambitions over certain areas in the North West of Pakistan that, for a brief period, remained part of territories conquered by Ahmad Shah Abdali during 1747 to 1773. [3] 

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Change in Afghanistan has always affected region in general and Pakistan in particular. Stability across both sides of the borders is mandatory for peace and security in the region. The research study is focused to evaluate the conduct of Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy with a view to identify its strengths and weaknesses, irritants and force multipliers so as to make suggestions for improvement. The underlying aim of this research study is to revisit these relations and give them a new direction for peace and prosperity in the region. This chapter tries to analyze different phases of Pak-Afghan relations in chronological order with a view to identify challenges hindering rapprochement process and continue to enflame the geo-strategic and geo-political environment amongst two Pakistan-Afghan brethrens. After the irritants causing worsening of relations are identified then the research offers recommended measures to address these irritants and suggest a strategy to bring both of the neighbors at friendly terms. The chapter is divided in to two parts. Part one explores the period from 1947 till American occupation of Afghanistan and part two discusses the inter-state relations in post 9/11 era. The subsequent discussion in the chapter is arranged in to two parts as follows:

Part -1: Pakistan Afghanistan Relations: 1947- 2001

Part-II: Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations since 9/11

Major challenges / Irritants effecting maintenance of good relations between the two states.

Historic Perspective

3.1. Pakistan came in to being on Islamic ideology revolving around concept of Muslim Ummah and destined to be symbol of universal Islamic solidarity for the Muslims across the globe. According to the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, ‘A cardinal feature of this ideology (of Pakistan) is to make Muslim brotherhood a living reality. It is therefore, part of mission which Pakistan has set before itself to do every thing in its power to promote closer fellowship and cooperation between Muslim countries’. [4] It was with this background that Pakistan, since its inception, pursued every step that could bring Muslim world closer at one platform. Its one of the fundamental principle has been to establish brotherly relations with the Muslim countries. Pakistan succeeded in cherishing very cordial relations with every Muslim country baring Afghanistan. In case of Afghanistan geographical location acted more negatively then the binding role Muslim faith that was expected to play. In case of Pakistan-Afghan relations Lord Curzon’s (former Viceroy of India) saying, ‘frontiers are indeed the razor’s edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war and peace, of life or death to nations’ seems proving to be correct. [5] 

It is regrettable fact of the history that from the time of Pakistan’s birth, Afghanistan has maintained an attitude of hostile neighbor and Pakistan has to live upon with because neighbour cant be changed. At the heart of Afghanistan’s indifferent attitude towards Pakistan were the issues of Durand Line and Pakhtoonistan. Both of the issues were based on Afghanistan’s ambitions of regaining control of NWFP and other areas which, for a brief period, were part of Ahmad Shah Abdali’s conquered territories. During 1940s, when it became apparent that Britain is likely to free India, the Government of Afghanistan asked to Britain that in the event of the demission of British authority the whole Pathan country as far as the Indus should revert to Afghan sovereignty or the people of NWFP be given choice of independent Pathan state. [6] Since then Afghanistan is playing champion’s role for the Pakhtoons state called, ‘Pakhtoonistan’. The rational sounded of the Pakhtoonistan was that since India was partitioned between Hindus and Muslims therefore, by parity of reasoning; there should be a further partition to provide the Pakhtoons with their own home land also. The proponent of the claim forget that Pakistan’s inception was not based on the ethnic reason but, rests on religious, cultural, historic and economic consideration. Referendum results held for the future of NWFP, 289244 votes in favour and 2874 against [7] , clearly demonstrate the desire of the inhabitants of the area in absolute term. People of the Tribal Agencies, without exception, stated that they were part of Pakistan and wished to preserve same relations with Pakistan as they had with the British. Afghanistan was the only country around the world that opposed Pakistan’s entry in to United Nation in September 1947. [8] 

For the purpose of better understanding of the issue and coherency of the events Pak- Afghan relations are described into three phases. This phase wise distribution of the events would help in acquiring in-depth sight of the happenings that shaped the bilateral relation to its present course.

3.2. PHASE-I: The Ill Fated Start of the Bilateral Journey (1947-1963)

3.2.1. The phase marks the ill fated beginning of the bilateral relations, commencing from the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 and continues till 1963. The phase describes how the seeds of conflict and discord were sowed and promoted between the two brotherly neighbors by the vested interests. Describing Pak Afghanistan relations President Ayub Khan identified two misconceptions amongst Afghans that influenced future course of inter state relations in negative directions [9] : Pakistan, having no reasonable infrastructure pre-requisite of any state, would be unable to survive as an independent and sovereign state therefore, it would be wise enough I on the part of Afghans to public their claims on Pakistan’s territory especially alleged under Durand Line before it was disintegrated. The second misconception was based on the self assumed fear amongst Afghan rulers that Pakistan’s survival and successful march to democratic system of governance would undermine the position of the rulers in Afghanistan.

3.2.2. Pakistan, since its inception, is struggling for its survival as an independent and sovereign country against heavy odds. It has inherited a hostile neighbor, ten times larger in size and weight, determined to undo the partition of subcontinent and re-emerge as united India from Ammu River to Bay of Bengal. Therefore, Pakistan has no other option but to maintain a foreign policy of friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world and especially with its neighbors. Furthermore, Pakistan’s strong attachment to its Islamic ideology has prompted it to espouse very intimate, cordial and brotherly relations as corner stone of its foreign policy. Pakistan, that already had threatening East could not imagine to afford another hostile nation on its West. It was only with the friendly relations with Afghanistan that could help Pakistan to escape the nightmare of being sandwiched between two hostile neighbors simultaneously from East and the West. But Kabul’s refusal to recognize the Durand Line as a legitimate international boundary and its demand regarding Pukhtunistan was extremely irritating beginning. Afghanistan was the only country to oppose Pakistan’s admission into the UN, conditioning its recognition upon the provision that the right of self-determination be given to the people of Pakistan’s NWFP. Actually the demand for Pukhtunistan was made in December 1947, when Indian army was poised for a quick advance into Kashmir, on Pakistan’s border. Since then raids from Afghanistan into Pakistani territories have taken place from time to time.

3.2.3. Afghanistan was the only country that voted against Pakistan’s admission to the UN on the ill-conceived cry of Pashtunistan and ill motivated blame of Pakistan’s mal treatment of Pathans. These complaints were perceived to be motivated in part by the ruling Afghan elite’s desire to deflect criticism from their own country’s economics backwardness, and in part by Indian machinations. Afghanistan’s press and radio unleashed the propaganda war mainly to pressurize Pakistan to accede to their demand of Pakhtoonistan. Pakistan, though disappointed from Afghanistan’s role, demonstrated open heartedness expressed its will to cultivate friendly relations with her. Mr. I.I. Chundrigar was dispatched as ambassador to Afghanistan followed by a delegation led by Sardar Abdul Rab Nishter to represent Pakistan in Afghanistan’s Jasn e Azadi celebrations. [10] However, To create conducive conditions winning allegiance of the tribes and set grounds for mutual trust Pakistan, reversing the long-standing British policy of stationing troops in the Pathan tribal areas, withdrew its troops stationed in tribal areas. [11] Pakistan’s gesture of trust and respect of the tribal traditions was reciprocated by the Loya Jirgah of Pakistan’s tribal agencies by declaring their allegiance to Pakistan against India. [12] 

3.2.4. Reconciliatory efforts including; Afghanistan’s withdrawal of its negative UN Vote and exchange of ambassadors in 1948 from the both side could not bring both of the countries closer. Rather, Afghanistan’s Loya Jirgah’s proclamation, in June 1949, fueled the flames further when announced that it did not recognized Durand Line and declared all Durand line related agreements void. In 1950, the tension reached to its climax when Afghan king Zahir Shah made an anti Pakistan speech at a celebration in Kabul. The Afghanistan’s flag was hoisted and anti Pakistan leaflets were dropped by the Afghan Air Force. [13] The Afghan government did not halt on proclamation rather took a step ahead by setting up a Pashtun parliament inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. [14] Irregular forces from Afghanistan crossed Pakistan border to fabricate Pushtun uprising in Pakistani tribal areas in 1950-51 were even handedly confronted by Pakistan’s regular troops. Afghanistan denied its covert involvement in the cross border infiltration. Pakistan rejected Afghanistan’s claim of neutrality in the cross border infiltration and both nations withdrew their ambassadors for few months till those were repositioned. [15] The assassination of Pakistani Prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan by an Afghan national in 1951 further deteriorated the already fragile relations.

3.2.5. Given the strained relations with Pakistan Kabul overtly joined India to oppose any possibility of U.S. arms aid to Pakistan. Afghanistan’s ambassador Mohammad Kabir Ludin protested Secretary Dulles on January 4, 1954, that US military assistance to Pakistan might create a “Power vacuum” in Afghanistan that a foreign ideology could exploit. [16] Afghanistan’s request for US arms support was rejected by the Washington in December 1954 primarily with the possible Soviet reaction rather than with the Pakistani response. [17] The rise to power of Sardar Daud, the cousin of Afghan monarch who was an ardent supporter of Pukhtunistan movement and Pakistan’s joining of SEATO and CENTO for defense purposes were two more irritants.

3.2.6. In 1955, Pakistan restructured its administrative units on one unit basis by incorporating all the areas in Western part of the country as West Pakistan province and eastern areas as East Pakistan province. Afghanistan government vehemently opposed the decision of integrating the Pathan dominated Northwest Province and instigated mass rallies and protests inside Afghanistan and across. Afghan Pakistani embassy in Kabul was sacked, consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad were attacked and Pakistan flag was molested. [18] Pakistan’s people retaliated retaliatory by attacking on the Afghan consulate in Peshawar and Pakistan government embargoed Afghan goods. Fearing Soviet Union may exploit the opportunity by filling vacuum in Afghanistan; Washington’s diplomacy prevailed in subsiding tempers and resumption of normal relation between Kabul and Karachi. In September 1955, Pakistan’s flag was again raised at its embassy and consulates, and the Afghan emblem flew once more over its consulates in Pakistan. [19] November 1955 added a new external dimension top the Pak-Afghan relations when Moscow severely reacted against Pakistan’s joining of CEATO and CENTO in South Asia and elsewhere. Communist leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin paid a highly publicized visit to India and Afghanistan. In India Communist leaders endorsed New Delhi’s position on Kashmir and in Afghanistan announced Moscow’s backing for the Afghans on Pushtunistan, pledged $100 million in economic aid and offered military assistance. [20] The visit marked entry of a new player in Indo-Afghanistan nexus against Pakistan and Afghanistan, for all intents and purposes, became an economic satellite of the USSR.

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3.2.7. On seeing possibility of Afghanistan going in to the laps of Soviet Union, America and other world powers including Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia tried to normalize the relations between the two neighbors and urged Pakistan not to severe its diplomatic relations with Afghanistan. [21] To reconcile and develop prospects for friendly relations, Pakistan’s president Iskandar Mirza visited Afghanistan in August 1956 and Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy Prime Minister of Pakistan toured Afghanistan in 1957. These visits were reciprocated by Afghan ruler King Zahir Shah in 1958 and Prime Minister Sardar Daud Khan in 1959. These visits helped in cultivating attitude of reconciliation on both sides. Sikandar Mirza and Daud agreed to relegate political issue to the lower priority and conceded to explore U.S suggestions, which envisaged establishing a transit zone in Karachi, providing special rolling stock for the Afghan trade, building short railway spurs into Afghanistan from the existing railheads at the border towns of Chaman and Landi Kotal, and improving roads and warehouse facilities inside Afghanistan. Development of these facilities was to cost about $30 million that was to be borne by the United States. [22] 

3.2.8. Seeing the competitive spirit amongst the leaders of the cold war, Prime Minister Daud tried to harvests from both sides of the fence. However, in President Ayub’s view Daud believes the Soviet would win the Copld War and therefore sought Moscow’s friendship and Communist aid had became so significant that the Russian had virtually taken over Afghanistan. [23] Soviets were developing the road infrastructure in Afghanistan in a way that could be strategically of their own use in later time frame. America did not agree to Pakistan’s idea of adopting tough line against Afghanistan that had mortgaged its future to Soviets, as it was likely to push Afghans further into the Soviet camp. [24] American use of Peshawar air port for U-2 flights prompted Soviets to penetrate further in to Afghanistan and threatening Pakistan for the serious consequences for being accomplices in U-2 flights. [25] 

Since the happening of U-2 incident USSR supported every Afghan move to isolate or damage Pakistan in any aspect. Indian connivance and Soviet’s support to Afghanistan against Pakistan marked another series of cross border raids into Pakistan by Afghan tribesmen in the fall of 1961. These incursions led to the termination of Pak-Afghan relations and closure of Afghanistan’s consulates and trade offices in Peshawar and Quetta that were turned to be centers of subversion. In retaliation, Kabul broke off diplomatic relations, closed the border and suspended transit trade with Pakistan. [26] The new stand off effectively cut land-locked Afghanistan off from most of the world, leaving it dependent on transportation links with the Soviet Union, extremely limited access through Iran and with India through air. The break with Pakistan had accelerated the adverse trends on Afghanistan’s economy and political system. America, stressing its concerns on growing Soviet influence in Kabul, maneuvered to manage the crises by offering U.S. good offices to both of the countries. In a bid to reduce Afghan dependence on the Soviets, America offered to finance the extension of railway lines from Pakistan into Afghanistan and urged the temporary reopening of Afghan trade offices. Pakistan agreed to a cross-border rail link near Quetta but denied the one near Peshawar. The reluctant Pakistan, finally succumbing under American pressure in September 1962 agreed “rather reluctantly” to consider allowing the Afghan “tentacles” across the border and a meeting between Pakistani and Afghan foreign ministers in New York. [27] However, the credit of successful mediation goes to Iran that managed to agree both countries on Tehran Accord 1963.

3.3. Phase-2: Detent in Pak- Afghanistan Relations (1963-73)

3.3.1. Following the Iran’s successful mediation which resulted in the 1963 Tehran Accord, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to restore diplomatic relations, open their closed border and resume trade and commercial ties. Both sides further agreed to ‘approach all mutual problems in accordance with international law, and to continue to create an atmosphere of good understanding, friendship, and mutual trust. [28] Resumption of bilateral relations and reopening of trade route in end September provided a sigh of relief to the depressed economic environment of Afghanistan. The onus of responsibility for severing the Pak-Afghan relations was put on the Prime Minister Daud who resigned in March 1963.

3.3.2. Daud’s resignation as prim minister, the main exponent of Pukhtoonistan, and mediation of Shah of Iran led to the normalization of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the two states restored full diplomatic relations by mid 1963. These developments diluted Kabul’s focus on the Pakhtunistan issue and made the Afghan rulers to take a more relaxed view of Pakistan. The relations were improved to such an extent that during the 1965 India -Pakistan war, Afghanistan sided with Pakistan which enabled Islamabad to fully concentrate on its war with India and worry less about the security of its western border. King Zahir Shah, in his state visit of 1968, was given a very warm welcome by Pakistan. [29] King Zahir Shah Visit was reciprocated by Finance Minister, Muzafar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Finance Minister, to explore the possibilities of increasing trade and fields of economic cooperation. [30] Islamabad decision to disband one unit led to further warmth in Pak-Afghan relations including increase in economic cooperation and mutual understanding. [31] Afghanistan maintained strict neutrality during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan and refrained from taking advantage of Pakistan’s preoccupation in war. [32] 

3.4 Phase-3: Reversal of Rapprochement (1973-1978)

3.4.1 The normalization process that commenced in 1963 with the resignation of Sardar Daud as Prime Minister of Afghanistan started gaining currency with every passing year. The bilateral relations were about to be matured enough to resolve the historical legacy of mistrust when these were interrupted by a sudden change in the Kabul’s corridors of power. In July 1973, Sardar Daud, an ardent champion of Pakhtunistan issue, deposed King Zahir Shah while on visit to Europe [33] with the help of leftist forces and in connivance with Soviet. These left forces were mainly from the Parcham wing (under Babrak Karmal) of the communist People’s Democratic Party(PDP). Daud abolished the monarchy and inaugurated a republic under his own presidency. [34] Pro-Soviet elements in civil and army that supported Sardar Daud in his coup d etat took their right granted in interfering state policies that was perceived as a alarming development in Islamabad. During his last tenure as Prime Minister Afghan -Pak relations remained murky and could not improve till his resignation in 1963. Now once again he was in power hence the process of Pakistan-Afghanistan rapprochement got struck in the middle and was to be reversed soon. The resumption of power by Mohammed Daoud in which pro-Soviet, leftist officers of the Afghan armed forces played an important role, was perceived in Islamabad as a negative development. Seeing his old record of supporting separatist tendencies in Pakistanit was feared that the Daoud comeback would once again arouse separatist movements amongst Pashtun and Balochi living across Durand Line. And it did happen in Balochistan when Afghanistan provided sanctuaries to the Marree and Bugti insurgents in mid 70s. To give a gesture of solidarity with Baloch insurgents in 1974-75 Daud’s announced mobilization of his forces to Pak-Afghan border under the guise of war game that resulted in Pakistan’s reciprocal deployment of troops along its western border.

3.4.2. Baloch insurgency was not new one but extension of their old demand of autonomy that was raised in their previous insurgencies of 1948, 1953, 1956-68. And similarly Pashtune uprising was also a new phenomenon rather resurfaced pulses of old Pashtunistan movement. However, it was inept handling of Pakistan government that portrayed Baloch and Pashtune demands of political autonomy with secessionist colures and perceived it a deliberate attempt by Kabul to disintegrate Pakistan. These perceptions in Islamabad were reinforced by the sanctuary and financial assistance given to Baluch separatists in Daoud’s Afghanistan. Considering Daud a serious threat to Pakistan integration Pakistan government decided to support anti Daud forces in destabilizing and bringing down Daud regime. Resultantly, Pakistan welcomed Afghan Islamists with anti communist and anti Doud feelings. [35] These dissidents were provided training and other supports for their incursions and uprisings inside Afghanistan. Figures like Gulbaddin Hekmat Yar, Ahmad Shah Masood, and Burhan-ud-din Rabbani escaped to Pakistan and continued controlling their armed resistance against Communists backed Daud regime from Peshawar.. [36] These forces succeeded in gaining momentum with in few years and attained a status of armed opposition to be reckoned with. Reportedly, around 5,000 Afghans dissidents were trained by Pakistan in its secret military camps. [37] 

On the other side Iran also did not like Daud’s support for Baloch nationalism as it was felt a dangerous move that could ignite Iran’s dormant Baluch population as well. Experiencing rise in Soviet influence in Afghanistan’s internal affairs Daud observed that anti Pakistan policies were doing Afghanistan more harm than good. [38] Daud, succumbed by Pakistan retaliation decided for reconciliation with Islamabad and invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto for Kabul’s visit. Bhutto was given an unprecedented warm welcome in Kabul in June 1976 and Daud was given red carpet reception in his reciprocal visit to Islamabad in August same year. These reconciliatory visits helped in reviving trust, defusing tension, resolve of peaceful coexistence, and finding pacific settlement of disputes. Dr Babar Shah opines in his article ‘Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy: An Evaluation’ that Bhutto agreed to release the National Awami Party (NAP) leaders accused of supporting the Pukhtoonistan demand, while Daud agreed to recognize the Durand Line as the frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan. [39] Daud while distancing him from the communist forces sought aid from Iran and persecuted both wings of the PDP in 1977. [40] However, the process of rapprochement was once again derailed as the window of opportunity got closed with the overthrow of Bhutto government in Pakistan in July 1977, and elimination of Daud by communist forces in April 1978. [41] Kabul was taken over by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) designating Noor Mohammed Taraki as President, Hafiz Ullah Amin as Prime Minister, and Babrak Karmal as deputy Prime Minister. The country was renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). Soon the communist reforms enraged land owners and the clergy -resulting in wide spread protests and rioting all along the country side. The currents and currents of Iranian Islamic Resolution have also added in to the temptations and Islamic colour to the forces resisting against the communist regime in Afghanistan.

3.4.3. The positioning of communist regime in Kabul presented a serious threat to Pakistan’s security and integrity as it was perceived from Kabul-Delhi-Moscow nexus with all its ramifications. Pakistan had no other option but either to surrender or to go for all support to the forces resisting against the communist regime of President Mohammed Taraki. Besides, supporting and organizing resistance forces against the Communist regime of Kabul, Pakistan has to host over 150,000 Afghan refugees into Pakistan immediate after the Saur Revolution of April 1978. [42] In December 1978 PDPA signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. On September 16th 1979, Hafizullah Amin staged another coup against own government, killing Taraki, and took over as President of Afghanistan. Moscow having found Amin less subservient invaded Kabul during the last days of 1979 executed Amin and installed Karmal as a new president. [43] 

3.5. Phase-4: War of Independence against Soviet Occupation (1979-1992)

3.5.1. The December, 27th 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which killed Hafizullah Amin and installed Babrak Karmal as the country’s president, created a frightening situation for Pakistan as it brought the Red Army dangerously close to the Khyber Pass, the traditional gateway of invasions of South Asia from the north. The invasion was seen in Islamabad as a calculated move more then a help to a floundering puppet. Moscow’s takeover of Afghanistan deeply offended Zia’s sense of Islamic brotherhood. [44] The invasion coincided with the post revolutionary disarray in Iran, Baloch insurgency in Balochistan and continued uncertainty in Pakistan. Russian forces were positioned with in an hour flying time of the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Baloch area. Furthermore


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