In an interview with GEO TV the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has expressed regret at strained relations with Pakistan, appealing for his neighbouring countrymen to aid the investigation into the death of Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, to stop extremism and not to worry about ties between Afghanistan and India.
The President defended Afghan relations with India, pointing out that Pakistan also maintains trade links, political discussions and cultural relations with India and that India has invested significant money in providing scholarships to Afghans.
President Karzai sought to underline the unique relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, beseeching Pakistani authorities to prevent radicalists from undermining the current administration in Afghanistan by investigating attacks, countering radical teachings and actively seeking out a closer relationship with the government of Afghanistan. When asked specifically by the interviewer about Afghanistan’s loyalties in the face of US aggression towards Pakistan, especially given the previous history of Pakistani support against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Afghan leader drew a line in the sand.
The official translation of the President’s words reads:
“…If Pakistan acts with in sincerity with us, towards ending extremism, no power in the world will be able to bring division between us, to bring distrust between us or to separate us, we will be a very strong, united twin brotherly entity…
“…God forbid. If a war ever breaks between Pakistan and America, we will side Pakistan. Pakistan lodged us, as Pakistan considered us brothers and gave us a home. We were lived as refugees with honor and dignity. We too will treat them as brothers. If Pakistan is attacked, and the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will stand with you, Afghanistan is your brother. Against all that the Pakistani establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan is still a brother. Afghanistan will never forget the welcome, the hospitality, the respect and the brotherhood showed by the Pakistani people towards Afghan people. We had five million refugees there. We will never forget that.”
Despite the context within which the President sought to smooth over relations with Pakistan, the assurance of an alliance against America is likely to further undermine confidence in the Afghan leadership within the United States’ administration, especially given the rising tone of US rhetoric against Pakistan. US officials have sent out signals that the transfer of sovereignty and security in Afghanistan may be delayed.
Whilst the issue of American bases being maintained after 2014 is a thorny one for the leader of Afghanistan, he has drawn up a list of demands which will underline future partnerships with the US; an end to night time raids, an end to the parallel structures of the US administration in Afghanistan, an end to US led detentions of Afghans and an end to the use of private security firms which cause “corruption, lawlessness and violations of the Afghan laws”.