News / Asia

    Despite Tensions, Some Signs of Progress in Afghan-Pakistan Relations

    FILE - Afghan border policemen take their positions at the Goshta district of Nangarhar province border, where Afghanistan shares borders with Pakistan.
    FILE - Afghan border policemen take their positions at the Goshta district of Nangarhar province border, where Afghanistan shares borders with Pakistan.
    Ayaz Gul
    While Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to disagree on many key issues, they reported progress in their bilateral relations in 2013. Close cooperation between the two neighbors is considered crucial for ending the Afghan war as NATO prepares to wind up its combat mission by the end of next year.

    Pakistan’s alleged links to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan have been a major source of tension ever since the Islamist group was forced from power in Kabul in 2001.

    Militants

    Many Afghans say Islamabad supports some militant groups to retain influence in Afghanistan after foreign combat troops withdraw. Pakistani leaders have repeatedly dismissed the allegations.

    “We must try both of us, to evaluate our relations to have some trust-building measures but some people must not think that Afghanistan is the backyard of Pakistan. They must recognize that Afghanistan is a sovereign state,” said Humayun Shah Asefi, a senior Afghan opposition politician.

    Afghanistan is a sovereign state, but like Pakistan, the central government struggles to control parts of its territory. After years in which Afghan officials accused Pakistan of allowing militants safe haven to launch cross-border attacks, this year Pakistani officials made the reverse claim.

    Speaking to a Pakistani TV station in June, President Hamid Karzai acknowledged that anti-Pakistan militants operate on Afghan territory, but insisted it is not his fault.
     
    “Yes, they are there. Yes, they are there because of the war created against Afghanistan by the [army] establishment in Pakistan. This is the consequence of the activities from across the Durand Line in Pakistan towards Afghanistan,” said Karzai.
     
    Since last year, Pakistan has fired thousands of artillery shells into Afghanistan to target militant bases nestled along their shared 2500 kilometer mountainous border, known as the Durand Line.

    Trust

    Pakistani Senator Afrasiab Khattak said although the lawless border areas are a problem, they are a symptom of the lack of trust between the two governments. “The real issue is not border management. The real issue is sourcing out borders to militants. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been doing it for a very long time and recently Afghans have also resorted to this tactic by giving shelter to our fugitives. I think we have to stop this,” he stated.
     
    Despite tensions over the violent border areas, there are signs that relations are improving.

    Since the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took charge in June, Afghan officials have welcomed Pakistan's willingness to free militants who could be helpful to the fledgling peace talks with the Taliban.

    During Sharif’s recent trip to Afghanistan, he reiterated that peace in his country is closely linked to a stable Afghanistan.  “We have stood by Afghanistan we will continue to standby Afghanistan and we have no favorites in Afghanistan," he noted. "Our favorite of course is the people of Afghanistan.”

    Challenges

    Pakistani authorities fear that a chaotic situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces could strengthen homegrown militants, posing a greater challenge for Islamabad’s anti-terrorism efforts. Islamabad also worries that continuing conflict and instability could trigger a fresh influx of Afghan refugees, putting pressure on an already weak and fragile economy.

    Former Pakistan army general, Athar Abbas, said that improved security cooperation between the two countries is critical need for stable future ties.  “Unless and until the Afghan security establishment and the government, and our government as well as the security establishment are not on one page and sit down together to decide how to deal with the complete menace [of terrorism], the ultimate peace objective will remain elusive on both sides of the border,” he said.

    Observers have for long argued that much of the mistrust and acrimony between Afghanistan and Pakistan flows from the rivalries between their security establishments. This mistrust also influences U.S. and Indian relations with Pakistan. With the departure of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan next year, and powerful militant groups that both Kabul and Islamabad are trying to neutralize, the stakes are high for both countries to find a way to work together.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.