Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has come to share a lot with Afghanistan. As two brotherly neighboring countries, they both share a similar culture, language, religion, and society. In spite of shared values, a wide amount of mistrust and animosity have seeped down from the governments to the populace.
Understanding the dynamics between Pakistan and Afghanistan isn’t as simple as one would hope. As neighboring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, both have had to bear the brunt of the US’s War on Terror. Precious lives were lost, on both sides of the border. Furthermore, the stakes threaten to rise exponentially, if either one of the parties to conflict fails to uphold peace. Hence, Pakistan and Afghanistan are intertwined in a way, that if one of them is in chaos, the other cannot be at peace.
At this point in time, Pakistan finds itself at a crossroads – a path, some would argue, it has gone down before. All eyes are trained on Afghanistan, as the US begins to withdraw its forces. At this point in history, Pakistan and Afghanistan, both need to realize the stakes of the Afghan peace process.
The Cost of War for Pak-Afghan
Since the war on terror began, Pakistan has evolved from a state which held a geopolitical outlook into one that now keeps its eye on geo-economics. Where initially, its concerns with regards to Afghanistan were traditional security-centric, and the discourse was heavily focused on the trade across the “porous borders”. The Pakistan of today is focusing on promoting peace and stability, within the region. Furthering development and stability within Afghanistan has become a priority for Pakistan. This is evident from the efforts it is making to ensure the peace process results in a political settlement.
However, as the paradigm has shifted, so has the nature of threats. The current test that Pak-Afghan relations face, is one of finding the truth in a sea of falsehood. Peace in Afghanistan is dependent on its social cohesion, and its economic and social integration with neighboring states. The threats from regional spoilers exist in various forms, particularly in the form of disinformation campaigns.
Pak-Afghan at Crossroads of History
At a time when emotions are running high, perceptions may be easily swayed. However, prioritizing peace and mutual development would prove to be the turning point for Pak-Afghan relations.
Identifying grounds for mutual development will help improve bilateral ties. By opening dialogs at various platforms and levels, both countries can identify common grounds for cooperation. This will result in the building of solid grounds for cooperation and nutual interest. While state-level diplomacy is already underway. The responsibility then falls to the youth and the thinkers of the countries, to come together and create cohesion.
At this crucial juncture in time, history awaits the choices that will define the future of Pak-Afghan relations. As a country that prepares to welcome prosperity, Afghanistan is presented with a rare opportunity to realize the value of peace within. Hence, two brothers, that share a language, a religion, a culture, when agreeing to go down the same road, will inevitably arrive at the same destination.