IDR Blog

Afghanistan and Pakistan Relations from Yesterday to Today!
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By Reza Ataei and Translated by Asadullah Jafari “Pezhman”

Reza Ataei is a Political Affairs Expert and Master's Student of Political Science Majoring in Regional Studies, University of Tehran. He often deals on Middle East issues and conflicts!

Asadullah Jafari “Pezhman” is a Translator, Columnist, and a Former Member of the Afghan National Army. He Mostly Writing and Translating on Afghanistan and the Middle East Issues.

An analysis on the turmoil of today’s relationship with a historical perspective

It seems that to analyze the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan today, we need to have an analytical look at the developments or changes in contemporary history. In a better sense, without a historical look at the recent changes in the region over the last few hundred years, we cannot understand the depth of Pakistan and Afghanistan security-identity relations.

Because all political issues today between Afghanistan and Pakistan and their in-depth analysis are rooted in the context and structure that the developments of contemporary history have shaped. Cognition is based on socio-political-historical, which analyzes today’s results even closer to reality. Of course, it goes without saying that what we mean by cognition here is “relative cognition” and not “absolute cognition.” Because in the field of analysis of political developments and issues, on the one hand, it is not possible to surround and dominate all factors and conditions. on the other hand many of the truths behind political themes for various reasons are revealed long after the essence of that subject matter is now attached to history museums.

“Contemporary” does not mean the history of the last one hundred years or, according to the divisions of Western and Iranian historians, which refer to “contemporaneity” of the last two hundred years. At least we begin with the year 1747, when the traditional political order of the region and the era of empires was collapsing. And over time, of the new political order and the influence of Western developments, on the one hand, we see the emergences and expansion of the age of nation-states in this region. On the other hand, the all-round domination of colonialism is on the chessboard of the regions.It seems that a large part of the anomic and quasi-anarchist situation facing the Middle East or (Southwest Asia) Central and South Asian countries today. It stems from the radiation and consequences of the same shift from the old political system of the empire to the new (Nation-State). And as well as is the influence of colonial policies.

The nation-state has its elements necessities that are not in line with the context of the people and lands of this region. All currents of twentieth-century “romantic nationalism” in the region, from Pan-Iranianism and Pan-Turkism to Pan-Pashtunism and Pan-Zionism and the identity-ethnic crises that plague the region’s countries today; From where it mentioned, they take root.The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, changes in Afghanistan, and issues such as the registration of a civilized tradition such as polo game or the confiscation of characters and honors of a common civilization heritage by a country or countries with a “new national” identity are all clear examples of this process.

Is it possible for us to analyze the political issues of this region today but ignore what a relic of evil colonialism is?

If we do not say “all,” most demarcations territories of this region were carried out by the colonizers, mainly by the British and Russians. If one issue of Afghanistan and Pakistan today is the issue of Pashtunistan and the “Durand Line,” who is the cause and founder of this issue and the border except for colonialism?What is called the “Great Game” in the history of international relations and the developments of the second half of the nineteenth century; One of the consequences is the birth of a buffer state called Afghanistan, which played a purgatory role between the two colonial powers of Tsarist Russia and Britain. However, at this time, we do not have a country called Pakistan, and at that time, it was a subsidiary of the Indian subcontinent and the East India Company, and the next Pakistan is the product of the separatist efforts the Muslim subcontinent led by Mohammad Ali Jannah. But we can start the date of the beginning relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the analysis of the issues related to these two countries from this moment.

Hence, we see that Afghanistan, in its relatively stable periods, is also suffering from the consequences of the Durand Line colonial border. It can be considered the culmination of the presidency of Dawood Khan from (1973-1978) in Afghanistan, which dealt with the issue of the great Pashtunistan and the disqualification of Durand Line. Therefore, As a result, Pakistan became a supporter of alternative individuals and currents of the Dawood Khan regime inside Afghanistan, which later became the leaders of the Mujahideen, parties, and groups called the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.As Graham Fuller rightly points out in his book “The Center of the Universe,” much of the bilateral interactions and relations between Iran and Afghanistan during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was also influenced by the issue of Pashtunistan, in which Iran became a kind of big Pakistani beard on the issue of Balochistan. Nevertheless, Iran has been a staunch supporter of Pakistan in the Afghanistan-Pakistan dispute.

Of course, since Pakistan is a major player in its foreign policy against Afghanistan and the region. So, Pakistan later played such a dirty game with the Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan (1979-1989 / 1992-1996). Pakistan also paved the way for the rise of the Taliban from (1996-to 2001). Pakistan has made good use of these two elements and identity of religion and ethnicity in the history of Afghanistan in recent decades and has been pursued its policies in Afghanistan, and it will be carried out again and again.During the peace talks before the fall of Kabul between the Taliban and the Kabul-based government and internal affairs in Afghanistan, meetings were held in Doha of Qatar and elsewhere. We also witnessed the depth of Pakistan’s sabotage and active activities. In a way, it was sometimes pretending that one of the hidden achievements of Afghanistan’s developments was tied to Pakistan and Islamabad.

But this is the issue of Pashtunistan and the Durand Line border issue, which can be interpreted as one of the essential Achilles heels of Afghanistan and Pakistan relations with some tolerance. As well as other subsequent chained developments, it goes back to this important question: firstly, how much we know about this historical past, and secondly, with what method and approach we re-read this history. Because right now, all the countries in this vast region that I am considering are the countries that are part of the Middle East or, in other words, (the region of West Asia) and the countries that are among the areas of the Caucasus, Central, and South Asia. Everyone is struggling in this “war of narratives,” which is based on the method of “historical re-reading.” So, as I said, the large answer part of the problems of the countries in this region today, including the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the rawness or maturity of the analysis of these issues goes back to these two critical related issues. In the first step, how familiar we are with the contemporary history, and secondly, with what glasses of understanding we have studied this history.

Another important point to pay attention to is that the geopolitics of Afghanistan are the geopolitics of conflict and crisis, Both internally and externally.

In terms of internal issues, this conflict is quite apparent, but in terms of external factors, it should be said that Afghanistan is a place of contention for others, so it can be said that Afghanistan is a place of wars and proxy games of others.In this geopolitics, the conflict of Afghanistan, and the proxy games that are going on in it, Pakistan certainly does not want and will not allow itself to be left without a head and hat.Another important point that comes to the forefront of this memo, especially for Iranian readers, is that the atmosphere in Afghanistan is not religious, and the main issue in Afghanistan is the issue of identity and ethnicity. The reaction of many Iranians to the recent developments and changes in Afghanistan in recent months was based more on the misconception that, unfortunately, these friends looked at the issues of Afghanistan with the same glasses as they did in Syria. The root of this goes back to the cognitive poverty that Iranian society has of Afghanistan and its society and politics.

The atmosphere in Afghanistan has not been and is not a religious atmosphere, although, throughout history, the element and factor of religion have occasionally been used as a tool and as a justification for repressive policies.The Islamic Republic of Iran also has its capabilities and restrictions in Afghanistan and the field of political issues in Afghanistan, which seems to be the case. However, it has not performed poorly and passively in Afghanistan. But the matter is that they did not have such an active record. Sometimes I see the same opportunities that the Islamic Republic has in Afghanistan becomes the same challenges and threat for itself.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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