Monday, June 7, 2010

Pakistan-India Dialogue: Effects on Afghanistan

In the second week of April 2010, during the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, in addition to meeting leaders of other countries Pakistan's Prime Minister also held a meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. The meeting was held on October 29 at the time when Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai also held meetings with Pakistani and Indian leaders in a bid to help improve ties between these two countries.

Mumbai Attacks Case
After the Mumbai attacks in 2009 when relations between Pakistan and India deteriorated and the series of meetings halted, the two countries at the time did not agree to hold talks even on the mediation of the United Nations. Each summit of SAARC concludes in the interest of all participating countries. On the sidelines of this summit, bilateral meeting between Pakistan and India is considered beneficial for both the countries. Here we discuss and write to see what will be the interest of Afghanistan if good relations exist between Pakistan and India?

The communiqué of SAARC meeting between Gilani and Manmohan says that Pakistan's Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was also accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Qureshi held a meeting with his Indian counterpart, S M Krishna. In addition to this prime ministers of both the countries were accompanied by their aides as well as other high level officials.

Now, first we look into the meeting of the leaders of Pakistan and India, and then we will think on the aspect of Afghanistan. Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after a long term of bad relations, once again agreed to start composite dialogue between Pakistan and India. Although the issue of Mumbai incident was raised by the high-level Indian officials, the agreement to start composite dialogue helped end last year's tension. In addition to this tension, agreement was reached to hold talks. Leaders of both the countries acknowledged that holding talks can resolve disputes between the two countries and this will be in the interest of not only India and Pakistan but also for the region. During the meeting and talks, which continued for about 50 minutes, it was also stressed that both countries will stop using their soils against each other. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani met with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh at the time when conclusion of SAARC Summit was announced. With the conclusion of SAARC Summit, leaders of both countries agreed to hold bilateral meetings and to continue talks between the two countries.

Eliminating Terrorism
Last year this meeting was held at Sharm al-Shaykh. In that meeting also, leaders of India and Pakistan met but the issue of Mumbai incident remained unchanged between them and India continued blaming Pakistan of harboring terrorism and establishing terror camps in Kashmir and other parts of India. Whatsoever was discussed in this meeting but India raised the issue that Pakistan harbors terrorism. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir told Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, that whenever ties between the two countries deteriorated, Bangladesh is affected first and on political aspect the damage to Bangladesh should be given more attention because on the issue of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India fought a bloody war in 1971 and after that Bangladesh was separated from Pakistan.

On neighborhood basis, though, Afghanistan has no joint border with India but on political basis Afghanistan needs more relations with India than Pakistan. This need has emerged because of the current warring situation in Afghanistan. In comparison to Pakistan, relations with India are more important for Afghanistan because India has no religious, cultural, and ideological ties with Afghanistan. If on political basis Afghanistan does no make ties with India, then it India, in the form of an enemy can inflict damage of any type to Afghanistan. At the time when Pakistan and India were at war for the liberation of Kashmir in 1965, ties between India and Afghanistan were better.

Political Rivalry Between India and Pakistan
In the face of these good relations a number of Pakistanis were of the view that India was carrying out aerial attacks on Western Pakistan from Afghanistan's side and border. Therefore, because of the bad relations between Pakistan and India, ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan also deteriorated. Indian observers claim and expressing their views, during literary gatherings, that Pakistan has not got good neighboring relations with Afghanistan. But the Pakistani people and Afghanistan say that India pursues its interests in Afghanistan and want to deteriorate ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As Pakistan and India now want to improve their relations and for this purpose they agreed to hold dialogue and meetings. This situation is in the best interest of Afghanistan because, although, Afghanistan has suffered damages because of the attacks by foreign armies, it also experienced losses in the form of education, culture and population because of political rivalry between India and Pakistan. Whenever Pakistan wanted, it has boosted reconstruction work in Afghanistan for improving friendship. India has changed the minds of a number of Afghans toward conspiracies against Pakistan. India has three objectives to achieve against Pakistan; it wants to change the minds of Persian-speaking people and to augment its influence and increase its supporters in Afghanistan.

Hatching Conspiracies
Since 2001, India has made pledges with Afghans for making five dams in Afghanistan. It is stated that three important dams will be constructed in Mazar-e-Sharif, Ghazni and Kunar and later will plan the construction of two other dams in Helmand and Parwan provinces. So far neither the dam was built on the waters of River Amo in Mazar-e-Sharif nor any power plants were installed at Sultan Band to provide electricity to Ghazni and Wardak and also no embankment was made at the river in Kunar. Parwan and Helmand Province have already been discussed later in the plan. But even if there are good ties between India and Pakistan, they prove helpful for Afghanistan.

The first thing is India should refrain from hatching conspiracies against Pakistan and Afghanistan and the second thing is it should not oppose awarding contracts of works and constructions in Afghanistan to Afghanistan; India should itself compete in the reconstruction work in Afghanistan. In this way Afghanistan will be reconstructed as the result of good relations between Pakistan and India. Relations will be better between these two countries and its benefit will go to Afghanistan also.

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