News / Asia

Kabul, Islamabad Vow to Address Challenges

Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah attend a campaign rally in the Paghman district of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 9, 2014.
Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah attend a campaign rally in the Paghman district of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 9, 2014.
Ayaz Gul

On the eve of Afghanistan’s runoff election, both presidential hopefuls have tried to reassure neighboring Pakistan they want to improve bilateral ties through enhanced political and economic cooperation. Islamabad has also vowed to strictly adhere to a policy of non-interference, but observers see daunting challenges facing the two nations as they seek to overcome years of mutual suspicion and mistrust.
 
Border security

Pakistani authorities say they have taken special steps to beef up security along what is considered a mostly porous border to help their Afghan counterparts protect the runoff presidential election. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam reiterated her country’s resolve to support a peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan.
 
“It is our earnest hope that the Afghan nation would emerge stronger and more unified at the culmination of these elections,” she stated.
 
Pakistan’s alleged links to the Afghan Taliban insurgency have long hindered efforts to improve bilateral ties.
 
Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration accuses Pakistan's military spy agency, the ISI, of trying to disrupt the presidential election. His National Security Council last week went further, alleging that a Pakistan-based Islamist group, with perceived links to the ISI, plotted the recent assassination attempt on front-runner presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah that left more than a dozen people dead.
 
However, speaking via Skype at an event hosted by the Washington-based Atlantic Council and Center for American Progress Thursday, Abdullah took a conciliatory tone, saying if elected he would want to have “good neighborly” relations with Pakistan and seek its cooperation in dealing with the threat of terrorism.  
 
“Today, one harsh reality is that both countries are faced with the same challenge (of terrorism) and it is in the interest of both countries to deal with it with a genuine spirit of good neighborly relations. So, we are very much looking forward to a better future for our people rather than living in the perceptions of the past,” said Abdullah.
 
The U.S. think tank earlier this month invited Abdullah’s presidential rival, Ashraf Ghani, to discuss his vision of Afghanistan’s future relations with Pakistan.  He said Pakistan has recently seen a rise in terrorist acts on its soil and appears ready to join hands with Afghanistan to tackle the problem and enhance economic ties.
 
“We need to envisage a 10-year process, at the end of which these two countries become pillars of regional stability… This is a fundamental axiom, on the basis of which I'm going to proceed,” stated Ghani.
 
Harboring militants

Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering al-Qaida affiliates and Taliban militants in its border region and facilitating insurgent attacks across the Afghan border. However, in recent years Islamabad has been complaining that Kabul is allowing fugitive leaders of the Pakistani Taliban to use the Afghan soil for launching deadly cross-border raids on Pakistani military outposts.   
 
Pakistani Senator Afrasiab Khattak hopes the future Afghan leadership will not “turn a blind eye” to the Pakistani fugitives on their soil, warning increasing terrorism and extremism are problems for both nations.
 
“I think both the states need to address this question and I think this can be the biggest confidence building measure between the two countries. If the (two) states evict militants and take over borders if the states run the borders by themselves I think it is going to stop this blame game,” said Khattak.
 
Islamabad has this month twice summoned the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan to formally protest several raids carried out by fugitive Pakistani militants in which Pakistani soldiers guarding the frontier were killed.  

 

Abdullah Abdullah
 
  • Received 45 percent of vote in first round of presidential election
  • Served as Hamid Karzai's foreign minister
  • Ran for president in 2009
  • Was an eye doctor
  • Father is Pashtun, mother is Tajik

Ashraf Ghani
 
  • Received 32 percent of vote in first round of presidential election
  • Served as Hamid Karzai's finance minister
  • Ran for president in 2009
  • Former World Bank official and professor at Johns Hopkins University
  • Pashtun

Presidential front-runner Abdullah said while he could not confirm the reported presence in northeastern Afghanistan of Pakistani militant leaders, he is strongly opposed any terrorist activity on Afghan soil.  “I am absolutely against the presence of terrorists here. If those terrorists are there then it will be for the Afghan state to action against them,” he said.
 
Officials in Pakistan insist that Afghanistan’s reluctance to accept the long border dividing the two countries as an international frontier is also hindering counter-terrorism efforts.
 
Mohammad Sadiq Khan is Islamabad's former ambassador in Kabul, and is now the secretary of National Security Division and part of key deliberations regarding Pakistan's counter-terrorism strategy.  He said that around 56,000 Afghans visit Pakistan every day, and both countries need to jointly monitor this movement to prevent illegal crossings.  
 
“When we do not do that and we keep the border porous and unregulated, essentially we criminalize the border. Most of the criticism against Pakistan inside Afghanistan as well as internationally is because of this border, which is sort of free for all. So, the criminalization of Pakistan-Afghanistan border it needs to be reversed,” Khan said.
 
It is widely believed that the Taliban took control of most of Afghanistan in the late 1990s with the help of the Pakistani spy agency and that it is still allegedly sheltering Taliban leaders. Pakistani officials reject the allegations and insist they do not support any single faction in Afghanistan and have developed links with all political forces in the country to promote regional peace and stability.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 13, 2014 11:57 AM
THE WISE MAN said it; -- Peace with the Afghans and Pakistan is possible, if they could guarantee the sovereignty of the Pakistan autonomous regions, -- (AND THEN?) -- the Pakistan autonomous regions would control the Islamic terrorists, including themselves? -- (AND?) -- let the Taliban have a political voice in both governments. -- (AND?) -- Peace is always possible, when you are tired of war, if one really looks for it?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More