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Ghani turns new leaf in Pakistan visit

After decades of tense relations between Kabul and Islamabad, newspapers in Kabul expressed both mistrust and optimism at the prospect of cooperation on common security issues.
17.11.2014  |  Kabul

Senior Pakistani officials had previously visited Kabul in the first weeks of Ghani’s presidency, indicating the country’s intentions to improve diplomatic relations with its neighbor, Etlaat-e-Roz daily wrote Nov. 16. The daily noted Ghani placed more importance on meeting with Pakistan military officials than members of the civilian government. “President Ashraf Ghani and his delegation flew to Rawalpindi, not Islamabad, and first met with military and intelligence officials of Pakistan. In his two-day trip, [Ghani] visited Mamnoon Hussein, the President of Pakistan, and Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan last.”

Conversely, Arman-e-Milli daily recalled the 20 “useless” trips previous President Hamid Karzai took to Pakistan, concluding that it was unlikely the new president’s efforts will yield concrete results. “[Ghani] only managed to sign a trade agreement with Pakistanis. A political agreement that could somehow have some positive impacts on the tense relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan was not reached… Pakistanis did not promise to stop leading and equipping terrorism in Afghanistan. They did not even admit to it.”

 “Ghani wants to address the root of the problem and for this reason, he met all the stakeholders." -Nader Khan Katawazi, member of Parliament 

Political analysts described Ghani’s trip to Pakistan different from those of Karzai, adding the new government has adopted clearer policies. “Ghani wants to address the root of the problem and for this reason, he met all the stakeholders, including Mualana Fazal-ur-Rahman, who is known as a Taliban supporter,” Nader Khan Katawazi, a member of Parliament, said in a roundtable discussion on Kabul News.  

In the same discussion, political affairs expert Zubair Shafayee noted that Ghani met with Pakistan’s  two major allies, Saudi Arabia and China, before travelling to Rawalpindi, and asked both countries to push Pakistan into supporting the peace process in Afghanistan.

But in Pakistan, it is the military who has the final word on bilateral relations with Afghanistan, Muhammad Saleh Raygestani, a former member of Parliament, said on Tolo News. Karzai met with Pakistani officials on many occasions, but these meetings bore no result, he added.

“We have always gotten promises from Pakistani officials, but unfortunately, these promises were never delivered,” Chaman Shah Rezaee, an expert on political affairs, said on Negah TV. “Promises were made this time too, but I think all will soon be forgotten.”