Dissecting conflictual neighbors over Kashmir

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Sardar Jahanzaib Ghalib;
In international relations, analysts used different levels of analysis to study and find out analytical questions. In “state level analysis” state is the main actor with certain interests and national goals that determine its interaction with other states. In studying Afghanistan’s stance over Kashmir, we must analyze not only the Afghanistan government or Taliban in Afghanistan but also the interests of India and Pakistan in Afghanistan. And with that also the interests and goals of Afghanistan in order to ensure its survival and security. After Pakistan’s Independence in 1947 Afghanistan was the only sole country who voted against Pakistan for admission in the United Nations. There were a few questionable and regularly changing requests from Kabul on the desires of acquiring Pashtun and Baloch land inside Pakistan. For irregular periods somewhere in the range of 1947 and 1973, Kabul stretched out help to Baloch and Pashtun nationalist inside Pakistan and even demanded the formation of another state called “Pashtunistan.” Afghanistan never recognized the legitimacy of “Durand Line ” even until today, Pakistan efforts to build a fence along the border met with great resistance from Afghan government. The relations were further deteriorated during the Wars in Afghanistan; the soviet-afghan war, afghan civil war and when the United States invaded Afghanistan. Pakistan’s support to the Taliban in afghan civil war and then its alliance with the US to invade Afghanistan heavily impacted Afghans policy towards Pakistan. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan have been to a great extent described by tensions and issues. But however, the two nations share close ethnic, cultural and financial ties. Pakistan and Afghanistan both declared themselves as “Islamic Republics” and they are members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The “Afghan-Pak Transit Agreement” is an evidence on how the two countries are even cooperating when it comes to trade and commerce. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a lot of mutual things. They have a common religion and culture. However, relations between these two nations were very limited. This is because Afghan’s interest in Pukhtoonistan and it grew after the rise of Pakistan as a free state in 1947. The pith of this interest is that Pakhtoons have the same language as afghans. So, Afghans were demanding areas possessed by the Pathans between the Indus and the Durand Line yet additionally the entire of Balochistan in the south and Chitral, Gilgit and Baltistan in the north and the northernmost zones of Kashmir. Clearly Afghan wanted to set forward the case for Pushtoonistan at first on the suspicion that Pakistan would no longer be a free state. That is why Afghanistan wished to set up its case to specific territories which were wanted for different reasons and the reasons which may have provoked the Afghan Government into lifting the interest for Pushtoonistan may have been a craving Water i.e. in the form of sea. A landlocked nation, Afghanistan severely needs an opening to that which would help them to open their trade routes. The end of the Cold-War changed the world arena and initiated another course of time in the name of “globalization”. Globalization refers to the interdependence of states for economic gains, markets became more important now than states. This eventually shaped Afghan policy towards India. The two nations enjoyed friendly relations even before because unlike Pakistan, India supported Soviet backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and aided the overthrow of Taliban’s. The relations were further improved between two countries not only to have economic gains but India also wants to build links in terms of transport and economy so that it could bypass its hostile neighbor Pakistan. Afghan ambassador in 2017 pointed that India is one of the biggest regional donors to Afghanistan. And the Indians also possess a positive sentiment in Afghanistan as according to a Gallup Poll in 2010 majority approved job performance of Indian leadership. Pakistan, in this area of globalization, does not want its hostile neighbor India to take the advantage of the crisis between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also wants to have peace in Afghanistan not only to have stability in its neighborhood but also to carry out regional trade and economic smoothly. India and Pakistan’s interest in Afghanistan are clear, but for both countries “Kashmir” had always been a point of confrontation so what Afghanistan had to say over this issue had been a center of attention. Recently we had seen India had some changes and developments regarding Kashmir such as revoking Article 370 that took away the special status of Kashmir. Such action was followed by India imposing curfew in Jammu and Kashmir that gave birth to humanitarian crisis. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to take this matter on international level. Pakistan had eyes on what Afghanistan had to say over it.  As an Islamic country and even dependent on Pakistan intervention for peace talks, Pakistan hoped for a strong and positive stance from Afghanistan. But keeping in view of the “balancing strategy, the Taliban’s clearly called out any link to Kashmir issue, their spokesperson said that linking the Kashmir issue with Afghanistan peace talks will not resolve any crisis and Afghanistan should not be made a theater of competition between two countries. A similar reaction was from the government in Afghanistan. For the Afghanistan government to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban government is the most essential factor in order to avoid civil war once the United States is out of the theater. They are concerned that Kashmir issue might halt peace talks as leader of Muslim League N Shahbaz Sharif said that what kind of deal is structured in Kabul where they celebrate peace and happiness and in Kashmir blood is shed. For every state, the action they pursue is in accordance with their relative power (measured in respect to power of other states), as claimed by realist Kenneth Waltz. Afghanistan actions in terms of Kashmir is in line with such theory, they ensure their own survival and their own security and avoid being a part of a conflict that can put them in further danger. As discussed earlier Pakistan and Afghanistan have not enjoyed good relations besides having somehow a similar historical approaches and this was the reason that Afghanistan was not interested in playing its role for Kashmir from Pakistani side .Internationally they do claim that they are not playing any part in issue of Kashmir and have declared it a bilateral issue but behind the curtain they are having good support for India. As they have economic dependency on India, and this is one of the best examples of neo-imperialism advocated by Lenin. For Afghanistan, India is one of the developed economic partners that can help the country to overcome the financial crisis. India’s GDP is all time higher than Pakistan till 2019. Also, India is interested in setting up infrastructure, dams, roads, schools and other projects in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s economic dependency over India to a large extent shapes its reaction towards the Kashmir issue. They have never supported Pakistan on international forums over the cause of Kashmir except becoming a member of the Organization of Islamic Council (OIC). India is supporting Afghanistan in economic ways and is investing into their land on a huge scale. So, in return Afghanistan is providing them support and Silence over the matter of Kashmir.

(-The writer hails from Kashmir. He is graduated in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad and intern at KIIR.)

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