The case for unity between Pakistan and Afghanistan

Pakistan is currently at the threshold of a political revolution which will define its future trajectory

What would this political revolution achieve when the country is currently on the verge of bankruptcy and financial ruin? Internally, Pakistan will need to reform its judicial system in order to get rid of the economic capture of our elite which is stifling economic productivity and growth

Externally, Pakistan will need to follow its national security policy (NSP) which is focused on geo-economics and regional connectivity

I argue that Pakistan will need to be creative and independent in its external foreign policy as that may play a key role in the future economic success of the country

We have been hearing for decades that Pakistan is in a key geographical position and if it leverages its ‘geo-economics’ correctly, it will become the next economic power of the future

Why has this policy not yielded any results? We have four land neighbours — India, Iran, China and Afghanistan

As we have learned from the economic success of the US and EU, open and free trade amongst neighbours is one of the key policies which leads to economic empowerment of the people

India is currently in the midst of a Hindu fascist government and any trade negotiations with them will be futile at this point

Iran is going through internal and external political upheavals which will make it very challenging to pursue long-term trade policies

China is our all-weather friend and CPEC-sponsored projects have also focused on regional connectivity

It still remains to be seen whether fruition of CPEC projects will lead to major economic dividends for Pakistan in the future

Afghanistan is more than our neighbour

It is the spiritual homeland of our country

The patron saint of Lahore, Ali Hujwiri (RA) came from Ghazna and his tomb is the most visited shrine in all of Pakistan

We have adopted the Western model of a nation state when we treat our Afghan neighbours as foreigners, refugees and simpletons to be exploited for our ‘strategic depth’

Pakistan is a vast country of over 220 million and yet our nationalists get alarmed if we have to give citizenship to any long-term Afghan refugees in our country

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, I ask what is preventing the Government of Pakistan from its recognition as the legitimate government which was negotiated in the Doha Accords

Our NSP revolves around geo-economics doctrine yet we have not even taken the first step to implement this vision

The economic future of Pakistan is dependent on Afghanistan as it is the key country which connects us with Central Asian countries

Even more significant is the fact that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan which are lagging in economic development will benefit enormously with trade corridors with Central Asia via Afghanistan

We need to start developing motorways to Kabul and beyond via Torkham and Chaman borders

We should help the new Afghan government to develop standardised organisations like NADRA to issue valid ID cards and passports to streamline border traffic

We need to develop gas pipelines from Central Asia so that we are not dependent on expensive LNG contracts

We will need to go back to our history of open borders with our region which led to past renaissance of our language, architecture, and ultimately the beautiful religion that we share with each other

The road to ‘haqeeqi azadi’ of Pakistan leads not only to the economic and political security of the country but also of its region

Inshallah, it is only a matter of time when we will elect visionaries like Quaid-e-Azam so that our country can achieve its manifest destiny

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2022

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Date:24-Nov-2022 Reference:View Original Link