September 25, 2008

Abduction of Afghan Envoy Start of New Game By Pakistan – Afghan Paper

Text of report by privately-owned Afghan newspaper Payman daily on 24 September

Can the attack on the Afghan consul general in Peshawar, his kidnapping and the shooting dead of his driver have an impact on the not-so-good relations between the two countries? What we know about Pakistan and its stance on Afghanistan during the past years does not suggest a good relationship between the two countries. Now and then there are voices raised that Pakistan is carrying out multilateral cooperation with the terrorists in their operations on Afghan soil and that the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, is involved in insecurity in Afghanistan; to the point that, sometimes, we are witness to serious objections to Pakistan's acts by Afghan officials, and a good example are the remarks by President Karzai some time ago warning that terrorist havens in Pakistan could be attacked, which, of course, met with a strong reaction from Pakistani officials.

What is evident is that the abduction of the Afghan consul general in Peshawar marks the beginning of a new game which can have a bad impact on the not-so-good political relations between the two countries. President Karzai's recent visit to Pakistan, his participation in the swearing-in ceremony of the new Pakistani president, Zardari, and also his remarks on his return from Pakistan - despite his strong remarks regarding Pakistan some time ago - suggested that there is goodwill in Pakistan towards Afghanistan and that at least the new government of the country has no evil intentions towards our country.

Although the remarks were not taken seriously then and were regarded as an example of President Karzai's contradictory remarks, the people and commentators waited for time to pass to see how much the remarks might match the truth and where relations between the two countries would stand.

Anyway, Pakistan is responsible for the abduction of the Afghan consul general inside Pakistan and the Pakistani government must respond to this.

Taking into account the behaviour of Pakistan towards our country over the past years, in this case [of abduction], we cannot ignore three possibilities, and in all three, Pakistan is to blame.

The first possibility, and of course the most optimistic one, is to say that the main factors of the issue are the terrorists who have used their very great influence in Pakistan and who intend to inflict a blow at the Afghan government by abducting the Afghan consul general in Peshawar.

Accepting the assumption, the question arises how the terrorists, who cannot have military schools and strongholds so easily inside Afghanistan despite all the prevailing disorder and chaos in the country, are able to be so active inside Pakistan and to engage in training their forces without coordination with the government of the country? And specially given that the Pakistani government is considered one of the powerful governments and even has nuclear power in the region? It is evident that, with the power that the Pakistani army and police have, the presence of all this chaos in the country seems so unnatural that it creates the possibility that the Pakistani government is in a way in contact with the terrorists and even supports them.

So, even if the terrorists are behind the abduction of the Afghan consul general, we cannot say that Pakistan is not to blame in the case.

The second possibility is that, just like when the ISI of Pakistan was blamed for the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul by some domestic and foreign sources and the Pakistani government said it had nothing to do with it, this action may have been organized by that organization [ISI] and in this case, too, the Pakistani government is absolutely involved.

The third possibility is that the action could have the work of the Pakistani government directly. A government which has at times proved its bad intentions towards Afghanistan and opened the borders of the country for terrorists.

Therefore, regarding the abduction, Pakistan must respond both to the Afghan government and to the people and the international community; and our government should stop such daydreams and should not regard any small change in Pakistan as a victory for Afghanistan.

The remarks by President Karzai some time ago - after the emergence of Zardari in Pakistan - on the good intentions of the country towards Afghanistan have had their result now, and the abduction of the Afghan consul general in Peshawar has proved that the people, the media, and commentators were not mistaken about the remarks [by Karzai].

So, if the Afghan government and the international community really want to bring peace to Afghanistan and give the country a brighter future, there is no alternative but to review their relations and behaviour towards Pakistan and to put the country under serious pressure to release Afghanistan. We are fed up with this neighbourhood.

Originally published by Payman daily, Kabul, in Dari 24 Sep 08.

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