26 March 2015

Afghanistan and Pakistan: The False Promise of Rapprochement

MARCH 22, 2015 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Just weeks after becoming president of Afghanistan last September, Ashraf Ghani signaled a dramatic shift in the country’s regional diplomacy. He promptly visited Pakistan and its main allies Saudi Arabia and China, and then Pakistan’s army chief and head of intelligence visited Kabul. 

The Afghan government is hoping Pakistan will help facilitate dialogue with the leaders of the Afghan Taliban, whom Pakistan has long harbored and enabled. Pakistan, for its part, has asked Kabul’s assistance against the leaders of the militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (T.T.P.), the so-called Pakistani Taliban, whose leaders are said to be hiding in eastern Afghanistan. 

This rapprochement has generated much excitement, but all the hype does not measure well against reality. Despite signs of renewed cooperation, Afghanistan and Pakistan still have fundamentally different goals and approaches. While Mr. Ghani’s moves are bold and risky for Afghanistan, Pakistan’s response so far has been largely tactical and self-serving. 

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