PM Nawaz Sharif announced Monday afternoon the reopening of the Pak-Afghan border.
The border was closed within hours of a terrorist attack that killed close to a hundred Pakistanis at a Sufi shrine at Sehwan, Sindh. The attack was the latest in a chain of attacks that rocked Pakistan at a time when the country announced the first big sporting event in a decade in which foreign players were to participate. Pakistani officials confirm that India is keen to scare international sports away from Pakistan. It is part of New Delhi’s declared strategy of ‘isolating’ Pakistan, a policy that has been a failure so far and has embarrassed the government of extremist Indian PM Modi.
India has been involved in dozens of terrorist attacks inside Pakistan for decades, with many arrests.
India uses Afghan soil for terrorism inside Pakistan. This is the reason Pakistan closed the Afghan border. The objective was to pressure Kabul into arresting and extraditing known terrorists harboured by the Afghan government in coordination with the Indians.
Instead of doing this, the Indian-linked security officials in Kabul handed over a list to Pakistan claiming they were terrorists wanted by Kabul and harboured by Pakistan.
The Afghan list is bogus. It is a diversionary tactic. And there is a big difference between the Pakistani list and the one prepared by Kabul. The terrorists wanted by Pakistan have issued statements and videos taking responsibility for terrorism inside Pakistan and evidence exists they are in Afghanistan. But the names given by Kabul are just names. None of them claimed to have conducted terrorism in Afghanistan. And there is no evidence they all are necessarily in Pakistan. Many Afghan rebels prefer to hide in Iran these days.
Islamabad should have rejected the Afghan list as a diversionary tactic and should have publicly said so and reiterated the demand that Afghanistan extradite the terrorists involved in attacks on Malala, APS school and universities, or face trade sanctions. The border closure is probably the last card in Pakistan’s hand to influence Afghan policy and to show Afghan leaders that they need Pakistan and that India can’t help them here.
Instead, PM Nawaz Sharif abruptly announces reopening the border. His government did not say if Pakistani conditions and demands have been met.
The United Kingdom had been especially active recently in trying to ‘mediate’ between Pakistan and Afghanistan but this was less mediation and more of a one-sided pressure on PM Sharif to reopen the border and this pressure appears to have worked.