Connections of Pakistan-Afghan soil

Ibn Battuta, a famous Moroccan scholar visiting the region in 1333, writes “We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen.”
Afghanistan has historically been referred to as “Cross Roads of Asia” due to its strategic location between central Asia, China, Pakistan and Iran. It is a nation of mixed culture and being a link between East and West has always been an ancient focal point of trade and migration. Politics here has historically been consisted of power struggles, bloody coups and unstable transfers of power. With the exception of a military regime, the country has been governed by nearly every system of government over the past century, including a monarchy, republic, theocracy and communist state. The land witnessed frequent replacing of rulers and Ameer’s loyal to the interests of either British or Russian empire but the winners had always been the tribal masses who always preferred “Qaum”.
History of the region is full of episodes that connect soils of the then British Empire (Now Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) and Afghanistan. The linkage begins with 19th Century “The Great Game” the conflict between the British and Russian empires for supremacy in Central Asia, resulted into three wars between British India and Afghanistan. Russian Empire’s expansion into Central Asia threatened the crown of British India. Afghanistan might then become a staging post for a Russian invasion of India. In 1837, British Envoy was sent to Afghanistan’s Ameer, to secure an alliance against Russia but the negotiations failed resulting First Anglo Afghan War (1839-1842).
In 1878, Russia sent a diplomatic mission to Kabul and at the same time British also sent their mission but the Ameer of Afghanistan not only refused to receive British mission but turned it back, triggering Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880). The war ended with “Treaty of Gandamak” under the treaty, it was accepted that with regards to foreign policy Afghanistan would rely on British India.
In February 1919, rule of Afghanistan transferred to Amanullah who in his coronation address declared total independence from Great Britain which became the reason of Third Anglo-Afghan (1914- 1918).The war ended, when British Indian Army exhausted from the heavy demands of World War-I (1914-1918), resulting into a peace treaty at Rawalpindi in August 1919, recognizing the independence of Afghanistan. Before signing the treaty Afghanistan recognized Soviet Government; lead to pleasant relationship between the two states, lasted till Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
This brief historical account leaves food for thought for those who always criticizes involvement of Pakistan into Afghan affairs and blames General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf for taking Pakistan into Afghan’s fire. Our interests are and will always remain connected with Afghan’s soil. However, our present day policy makers should not commit the same mistakes committed by British India.
Afghanistan is country of various tribes and groups where writ of these groups is stronger than state itself. As neighbour, Pakistan will remain prone to fallout of anything happening in Afghanistan. To be prosperous and peaceful, Pakistan needs a politically and economically stable Afghanistan. Peace in Pakistan is also dependent on peace in Afghanistan. Bilateral strong relations are the only option to deal all these challenges. Though Afghanistan should be ruled as per desires of Afghan people but Pakistan should continue making diplomatic efforts to ensure that Afghan land is not used against Pakistan. Thus Afghan’s foreign policy should always have Pakistan’s view as always demanded by British India in the past.

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