Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Kabul today comes in the backdrop of a visibly mutual desire to move past all the hostility of the past and start a new chapter of beneficial ties between the two countries. It’s a good thing that Pakistan’s sincerity finally became known to everybody as it was Islamabad, at the end of the day, that was able to finally get all Afghan factions to agree to talk. Otherwise nobody, not even the Americans, was able to get the Taliban on board despite trying everything in and out of the book. It was the militia, after all, that was still making gains on the ground since at least the 2006 Spring Offensive.
But now all that is already in the past. Islamabad and Kabul have spent way too much time at odds with each other. You have to live with your neibhbours despite all your differences, which is why Pakistan’s policy of reaching with a message of peace, friendship and trade in every direction makes a lot of sense. It’s a pity that India mistook Pakistan’s genuine desire to let bygones be bygones and move together towards peace and harmony as its weakness for some reason and now the climate of the entire South Asian region has been soured by Delhi’s belligerence. That is why it is extremely important for Kabul not to let its vision be blurred by Indian influence any longer and look at its own interests as meaningful negotiations with the Pakistanis begin after all these years.
Things have been moving along pretty well so far though there is the odd stumbling block, like the Afghans asking for rights to establish businesses in Pakistan. PM’s Advisor on Commerce Razzaq Dawood went to Kabul the other day to sort out just such matters. Pakistan is clearly eager to get off the mark on as positive a note as possible, and since it is also the more advanced of the two struggling countries, it must play the role of the bigger party and offer more concessions. That is exactly what Prime Minister Imran Khan’s plan seems to be. Kabul will also have to reciprocate, of course, and no doubt President Ghani is well aware of what our PM is going to ask first up, therefore it is hoped that he would have done some homework about the little matter of Pakistani terrorists finding sanctuary on the Afghan side of the long border. If both sides look out for each other, there is no reason for this partnership not to blossom.