By Anjali Bisht, Law College Dehradun.
The world community received a shock when the two enemy States, Afghanistan and Pakistan decided to enter into an intelligence cooperation deal. Quite a lot of heads turned around in disbelief, because the past relationship between the two States has rather been unpleasant for at least two decades now. What makes this deal more unusual and shocking to be precise, is the fact that the former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai in the past had accused Pakistan of aiding and sheltering the Taliban militants in order to fuel insurgency on it’s soil. That’s not the end of the story, because, Karzai even went on to accuse the ISI (the intelligence wing of Pakistan) for initiating attacks on Afghanistan.
But, it seems that Ashraf Ghani who took over as the President of Afghanistan in September last year is willing to change the existing dynamics and give the relationship between the two States another chance by way of this deal. What the world can perceive from this deal is that both the States are starting afresh.
Since, Ghani took over as the President a lot of measures have been taken by him in order to mend the long broken trust and cooperation between the two States. However, political experts and analyst from all over the world are not very positive regarding this breakthrough and have a opinion that this is the most drastic step taken in the history of Afghanistan which may have serious consequences if it doesn’t work out as expected.
The Memorandum of Understanding –
There has been no official announcement regarding the deal by the Afghanistan government, therefore, it is still unclear as to when the MoU was signed by the two States in. However, it came soon after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Kabul last week. The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has been promised full support by Nawaz Sharif in the fight against Taliban. He further added that enemies of Kabul shall be identified as enemies of Pakistan as well.1
The partnership between the two nations’ intelligence services was confirmed by the Pakistan’s military spokesman Aseem Ali Bajwa on May,18,2015 on Twitter. Bajwa further added that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has already been signed between the two organizations,Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS).2
The agreement is a giant leap from their former relationship dynamics where both the States have been involved in accusing each other causing unrest and terror in the territory of the other.
Afghanistan – Pakistan relation prior to the deal in brief –
The relation paradigm of these States is described as ‘two inseparable brothers’ by Hamid Karzai. However, it started degrading in the 1970’s due to the support lent by Pakistan to rebels against the government of Afghanistan. During the 1980s, 250,000 foreign Mujahideen fighters were trained in Pakistan who began crossing into Afghanistan to wage war against it’s Communists on a daily basis. During the year of 1994, the Taliban movement gained momentum with the help of Pakistan and this led to capturing of Afghan cities by Taliban. The Pakistani Military played a major role in creeping invasion of Afghanistan. U.N. documents also suggested that the Taliban militants were heavily supported by Pakistan. Hamid Karzai warned Pakistan to not interfere in his country in a statement made by him in 2006. In 2008, Karzai suggested that in order to combat militants hiding in Pakistan the Afghan National Security Force could cross the Durand line. This statement was sharply criticised by the Pakistani leaders who in counter stated that any violation of the border lines would not be tolerated by them. Relations between the two States further strained when Karzai openly accused the ISI for initiating attacks on Afghanistan and that Pakistan was providing aid to Taliban Militants in order to cause insurgency on the Afghan land. Such a deteriorated relation was tried to rebuilt by way of the APTTA Agreement of 2010 under which the construction of rail tracks in Afghanistan would take place to connect with Pakistan Railways.3
Relation paradigm after the deal-
Pakistan’s ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) and the Afghan Intelligence National Directorate of Security (NDS) have come together and signed a MoU for cooperation and waging war against terrorism in both the States.
In the landmark agreement Pakistan condemned Taliban and stated that any future violence by the militant group would be treated as terrorism. Under the agreement, the Intelligence agencies of both the States shall cooperate in order to combat terrorism and initiate counter – terrorism operations.4
After years of blame games and mistrust, the deals brings a hope of growing cooperation between the two States. The agreement has led to the extinguishment of the age old enmity between the intelligence agencies of both the States.
The government officials claim that the agreement denotes the building of a new foundation of trust not only between the two States, but also between their Intelligence agencies.It is a step to move away from the bitter past and President Ashraf Ghani strongly believes that the agreement in the future shall be milestone in curbing terrorism which majorly affects the country.
What the MoU basically aims at ?
President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman stated that the focus of the agreement is aimed at fighting terrorism jointly. The essential element of the agreement which makes it one of a kind agreement in the history of both the States is the provision for a ‘joint probe’ of the suspects of terrorism. The MoU has articles on “moulding public opinion and narrative “about Pakistan in Afghanistan and “jointly fight separatism and enemy espionage agencies”.5
There were rumours floating in the media that the agreement involves the ISI equipping and training Afghan intelligence officers. But, the same has been negated by NDS spokesman Hasseeb Sediqqi said on May, 19 , 2015.6
The MoU as a means to curb RAW actions in Afghanistan –
Kabul denies existence of any active Indian intelligence in the it’s territory but, Pakistan is not convinced and believes that the Indian Research and Analytical Wing (RAW) is active in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants to curb the influence of RAW in Afghanistan using Taliban as it considers RAW responsible for terrorist attacks in Pakistan.7
Effectiveness of the deal and practicability –
The ages old tension between the two States is not hidden from the world and it was evident that both the States have been involved in an undeclared war. In order to change this situation Ghani has put his hopes in this deal. But, what he forgot is that Pakistan’s military establishments still aids Taliban. Observers are of the opinion that Pakistan still sympathises with Taliban and, hence, hasn’t changed any of it’s policy related to Afghanistan.
The deal basically aims at a joint fight against enemies and battle against common threats .But, for over a decade Afghanistan has been in a constant war with Pakistan’s deep state’s like Taliban and the Haqqani Network.8 So, which enemy does the deal specifically talks about ? The basic idea of the deal is to fight against enemies together , but Ghani forgot that his country has been batteling against Pakistan itself .
Will the deal be ratified by Afghanistan Parliament ?
The agreement has been largely criticised by the Afghan parliament as it’s sceptic about Pakistan and it’s failure to curb the Taliban militants in the past. The Afghan Parliamentarians are of the view that such an agreement would lead to Pakistan’s upper hand in the region. Where Ghani thinks that the agreement will make Pakistan use it’s influence on Taliban and force it to commend peace in Afghanistan, the political experts have a difference of opinion. They believe that the agreement will have no fruitful result as the history of tensions between the two States is grave, therefore, taking such a concrete measure is a big risk. The risk involved here is that the deal might just be a guise for Pakistan to regain the influence it once had over Kabul. The Afghan MPs have condemned the deal and have asked for the nullification of the same. The Parliamentarians strongly believe that the deal will have a negative effect on Afghanistan and considering the past their worry is quite valid.9
There are lots of perceptions as to what this deal will ultimately result into. The Politicians, Officials and others from all over the world have their respective opinion, some have patronised the deal while others are hoping that the deal turns out to be a milestone in the Afghan and Pakistan history. We cannot oversee the past neither can we be certain about the future, that being said this deal can lead to anything and the world awaits the outcome.
1 See – Will the Afghan-Pakistani intelligence cooperation work? http://www.dw.de/will-the-afghan-pakistani-intelligence-cooperation-work/a-18463584
2 See – Will the Afghan-Pakistani intelligence cooperation work? http://www.dw.de/will-the-afghan-pakistani-intelligence-cooperation-work/a-18463584
3 See – Afghanistan–Pakistan relations http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan–Pakistan_relations
4 See – ISI, Afghan intelligence in landmark deal. (2015, May 19)http://www.dawn.com/news/1182742
5 See – ISI, Afghan intelligence in landmark deal. (2015, May 19)http://www.dawn.com/news/1182742
6 See – Afghan Intelligence Deal With Pakistan Sparks Uproar. (n.d.) http://gandhara.rferl.mobi/a/27028605.html
7 See – Pak, Afghan MoU for curbing RAW in Afghanistan http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/05/24/national/pak-afghan-mou-for-curbing-raw-in-afghanistan/
8 See – Pakistan, Afghanistan Sign Deal To Increase Intel Sharing And Cooperation. (2015, May 19) http://www.ibtimes.com/pakistan-afghanistan-sign-deal-increase-intel-sharing-cooperation-1928936
9 See – Afghanistan in danger of sliding under ‘Pakistan’s thumb’: Hamid Karzai. (2015, March 10 http://indianexpress.com/article/world/afghanistan-in-danger-of-sliding-under-pakistans-thumb-hamid-karzai/