Why Ties Between Afghanistan, Pakistan Have Hit The Rock-Bottom?

Pakistan has closed its visa section of its embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, indefinitely,  citing security reasons.  Since this announcement, the process of issuing visas to Afghan citizens has also been stopped. 

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The announcement of closing the embassy was made when two incidents of alleged harassment of Pakistani diplomats by Afghan officials in Kabul were reported. Apart from this, a few days ago, there was also firing on the Pak-Afghan border by the security forces of both countries, in which five people were injured on the Pakistani side.

In a brief statement issued by the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, it said that the visa section will be closed from Monday for security reasons. Apart from this, no other information was given.

Two days ago, Pakistani diplomats posted in Afghanistan alleged that Afghan officials were harassing them in Kabul. They said that the vehicles of Pakistani diplomats were stopped several times and sent back to the embassy.

The Pakistani administration also released a video to the media in which the Afghan administration is stopping the vehicle of Deputy Ambassador Hasan Wazir in Kabul and another diplomat.

Pakistani diplomats claim that they are not allowed to move out of the embassy in Kabul at their own will, causing many problems. Pakistan later called Afghanistan’s diplomatic representative in Islamabad to the Ministry of External Affairs and expressed concern about how their diplomats were being treated.

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However, in a statement issued by the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan on November 4, it has been claimed that Afghan diplomats in Pakistan were called and abused by the ISI. Pakistan has not yet responded to this charge. There has neither been any confirmation nor denial.

It is worth noting that the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar has also been closed for the last three weeks, due to which Pakistanis wishing to visit Afghanistan are having difficulty in getting visas. The Afghan government says that in Peshawar, it has closed its office in protest against the forcible withdrawal of the Afghan flag from the Afghan market.

The Afghan government has long claimed its ownership over this market, while a Pakistani citizen claimed that his ancestors had leased this market to the Afghan government. But later the case went to court where the decision came in the favour of Pakistani citizen.

Border Tensions

One of the biggest issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the border, which is called the Durand Line. Afghanistan refuses to accept the Durand line from the beginning, while Pakistan believes that it is an internationally recognized border.

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There is a long border between the two countries and there are allegations that the extremists on both sides of the Durand Line keep on moving and attacking each other’s territories.

However, after the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, Pakistan made several arrangements along the border. Among them, fencing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and stopping the unrestricted flow of Afghan citizens visiting Pakistan was initiated.

Nevertheless, there were no signs of easing tension as cross border firing between the security forces and cross border terrorism continued.

Afghan War

Most journalists and analysts researching Afghanistan believe that the diplomatic relationship between the two countries has never been stable since the war began in Afghanistan. However, the situation worsened when the Taliban was removed from power after the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Experts state that the war has created a lack of trust on both sides and that serious efforts have never been made to resolve this issue surrounded by many problems. He said, “The other unfortunate thing is that every bad incident in Afghanistan is blamed on Pakistan when it is not.

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Pakistan and Afghanistan had made several commitments to overcome the mistrust last year but it is unfortunate that this could not happen and rather tensions have only escalated, the expert noted.

He said that the Afghan Embassy in Peshawar was closed after Pakistan stopped granting visas at its embassy in Kabul. The Pakistani embassy in Kabul grants visas to 1800 Afghan citizens every day and if it is kept closed for a few days more problems will arise for Afghan citizens.

Pakistan led peace talks between Trump administration and insurgent group Taliban have also not gone down well with Kabul. The Afghan government was not involved in this dialogue while Pakistan, the US and Taliban continued to decide the future of Afghanistan.

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President Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan government and other Afghan leaders continued to express their anger and worries from time to time. The Afghan government wrote a letter to the UN Security Council expressing concern about Pakistan’s role in the peace talks. The Afghan Government considered the act by Pakistan as a direct meddling in Afghan internal affairs.

Some analysts believe that “Afghanistan’s government does not want the relationship between the two countries to deteriorate, but there are elements in the government that are associated with the anti-Pakistan lobby and do not want the relationship to improve.”