Did Peace Lose Another Chance???

By: Jalaluddin Mughal

A brief meeting in Paris between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, followed by latter’s surprised visit to Lahore, created a ray of hope for success of peace efforts in the region but recent terrorist attacks in Pathankot and Charsadda have changed the scenario of the whole South Asian region. In December last year, National Security Advisors (NSA) of the two nuclear-armed neighbors—know for their enmity, than friendship—announced to resume poised diplomatic talks on all bilateral issues including longstanding Kashmir dispute. The announcement was made during NSA meeting in Bangkok which paved the way for Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan.

After Pathankot Air Base attack in India, Bacha Khan University (BKU) massacre –killing 21 including students, teachers and guards—has triggered a serious debate in national and regional media about possible Indian and Afghan involvements in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Several mainstream media outlets, quoting official investigations, have declare Rahmatullah Nabil , former chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS)—Afghanistan’s primer security agency—as mastermind of the bloodshed.

Nabil –who resigned from the office in December last year—is alleged to have close relations with Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Mula Fazal Ullah and other Taliban fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan.   He stepped-down after criticizing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision of restoring peace talk with Afghan Taliban during the “Heart of Asia” –a regional conference in Islamabad to discuss the situation in Afghanistan with particular focus on helping the war-torn country’s economy.

Nabil has always alleged Pakistan for its “open interference” in Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and articulated his resignation in the wake of “Ghani’s surrender against Pakistan” for restoring peace talks with Aghan Taliban.

Pakistani media, quoting security officials investigating after Charsadda massacre, has also identified Nabil as a middle-man of Indian Consulate in Kabul and TTP for financing and executing the BKU Charsadda attack.

Both India and Pakistan lunched investigation after Pathankot attacks and Pakistan have already shared initial findings of the investigation report with India and detailed reports have to come. On the other hand, authorities in Pakistan have also arrested “some suspects” of Pathankot airbase attack including chief of banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Maulana Masood Azhar.

Investigations are not expected to conclude as soon as it should be and all three countries, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan will try to link—or may be delink—the both attacks. This situation has put several question marks on the future of diplomatic and secretarial talk between Indian and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the investigation process goes on, governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India need to keep ‘peace’ on their top priority—rather than falling into a long-lasting blame-game with cipher output.

To cope with terrorism in the region, political leadership of both nuclear neighbors need to make bold and mature decisions rather than keeping a suspicious eye on each other’s efforts.  If India and Pakistan have to challenge—not to multiply—the terrorism in the region, the need to cooperate in Afghanistan as well as in Kashmir. Only political willpower can help countries to identify all state and non-state actors threatening peace process in the regions; and it is time to show that will and to give peace another chance.

About Author: Author is Muzaffarabad, Kashmir based peace activists and contributor to several print and online publications. He tweets @jalalmughal and can be reached at Jalaluddin.mughal@pressforpeace.org.uk

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