Notwithstanding decades of hostility, Pakistan’s public pronouncements in support of the government in Kabul have never been friendlier.6 These pronouncements range from declaring the enemy of Afghanistan as an enemy of Pakistan as well, and denouncing the actions of Afghan Taliban as terrorism. President Ghani has in turn, invested much of his political capital in a policy of reconciliation with Pakistan, underscoring a belief that durable peace in Afghanistan is possible only with an active Pakistani partnership. He has therefore, put a lot of stock in pushing Pakistan to get the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table, which will, he believes, curtail their violence. While Pakistan’s influence over the Afghan Taliban’s decision-making process, and Pakistan’s ability to get them to the negotiating table, are exaggerated, Afghanistan expects Pakistan to choke the Afghan Taliban’s channels of funding and destroy their safe heavens.7 The Taliban are also divided over the question whether it makes any sense for them to openly engage in talks with the Kabul government or wait for the time when it might collapse in the face of resistance.
In the backdrop of decades of acrimony, Dr Ghani is compelled to tread carefully. Dr Abdullah Abdullah of the Northern Alliance – the Chief Executive in the Unity Government in Kabul – whose hostility towards Pakistan is well-known, or his confidants stay only an earshot away when Dr Ghani conducts his business of state. If his soft-pedalling on Pakistan is not matched by solid action, he faces increasing criticism and reaction from the Abdullah camp, making him politically vulnerable at home.
Sajjad Ashraf, Adjunct Professor, in the Eurasia Review, 18 June 2015.