As neighbours, Afghanistan and Pakistan share close ethnic, linguistic, religious and economic ties, but their relationship is marred by military-devised interventionist policies based on perceived national security interests.
Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai reflected on the importance of good relations between the two countries during a conversation at the final day of Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi on Thursday.
Talking about the bordering countries, Karzai said that Afghanistan’s relations with Iran and Pakistan are consequential and hence more important.
“Pakistan has the greatest impact. So peace in Afghanistan is dependent on how we evolve our relation with Pakistan. We want the best of relations with them. We have the issue of the Durand Line (border) with them, but it has not been used by Afghanistan to cause wars or conflicts or other forms of disability with Pakistan. Afghanistan cannot be peaceful or prosperous without the best of relations with Pakistan,” he said.
Pakistan is building a massive fence along the Afghanistan border because of the security situation in the region. The unilateral military-led construction programme, to install a pair of nearly three-metre-high chicken wire fences, topped with barbed wire, along the nearly 2,600-km border (Durand Line) has spurred criticism from Afghanistan.
Pakistan has dismissed the objections and maintains the boundary with Afghanistan is an internationally recognised border between the two countries. The tensions between the two countries have often triggered border skirmishes between security forces.
Admitting that relationships are not good right now between the bordering neighbours, Karzai said they need to improve.
“India is the greatest friend of Afghanistan… but the impact that Pakistan can make is much greater than any other country. We need to promote this relationship with Pakistan. I don’t know how, but we need to. |The conflict between India and Pakistan has affected us tremendously, and we tried to balance it out. We want to be best friends with India, but our friendship is not going to stop us from being best brothers and friends with Pakistan,” he said.
Pakistan has claimed it has 2.7 million Afghan refugees, and Islamabad is fencing the border because of the allegations that fighters are going from Pakistan.
The Durand Line is the 1,400 mile-long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, established in 1893 following an agreement between Sir Mortimer Durand, a representative of British India, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan.