Regarding the July 15 editorial, “Troubles grow in Afghanistan”: The appraisal that Pakistan is the most important factor in the resurgence of insurgents in Afghanistan is contrary to the facts and harshly unfair to the country, which has made great sacrifices in the war against terrorism. Pakistan has been doing more than its share of fighting terrorism and helping Afghanistan. The failure of national conciliation in Afghanistan rests at the heart of the violence that has wracked that country for over two decades.
No other country has accepted so many displaced people for so long as Pakistan. Despite playing a key role in the war on terror, Pakistan continues to face unfair criticism for providing refuge to those involved in terrorist activities. Critics have not been able to understand that it is the Afghan refugee camps close to the border that are sometimes used as terrorist hideouts. The detection of Taliban militants, who easily blend in with the refugees, is almost impossible.
The Taliban do enjoy some support in the Pakistani tribal areas, and the government has taken countermeasures. But the problems of Afghanistan mainly lie inside Afghanistan. Furthermore, cross-border movement goes both ways. Stopping the two-way movement is the joint responsibility of Pakistani, ISAF/NATO and Afghan security forces.
The fight against terrorism and extremism must be conducted without alienating the local people. Therefore, the Pakistani government is following a three-pronged strategy to combat terrorism: dialogue with nonmilitant tribesmen, socioeconomic development of areas bordering Afghanistan, and the use of force against militants.
To ensure foolproof, long-term policing of the region, the Pakistani government has involved local tribal leaders through dialogue. The leadership’s sincere wish to cooperate in the campaign against terror can be judged by the fact that despite a number of provocative statements as well as attacks on its security forces, Pakistan is exercising maximum restraint. If current efforts to counter militancy in Afghanistan are not sufficient, then all stakeholders need to do more.
This calls for greater trust and better cooperation, principally between Pakistan and Afghanistan.