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Troubled neighbours... By Ali

11 January, 2013

I remember growing up in a peaceful Pakistan but ever since the 21st century started, the effects of an unstable Afghanistan have taken a toll on our already fragile country. Having the privilege of being a resident of Karachi, I have witnessed the influx of Afghan immigrants in the last decade or so and that number has been on the rise ever since. Still, no one is initiating the debate about how to tackle this influx of our neighbours. Previously known as the gate to the Silk Route, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the great game between the Russian and English empires. Many years later it became the battleground between the US-backed Mujahideen and the Soviets backed by the Afghan government. This was followed by the civil war of the 1990s and then turned into a breeding ground for free, determined and violent extremist groups. The US's policy towards this issue is crystal clear; the question is how much are we aware about the Afghan government's policy towards Pakistan. How will the Taliban handle peace?

Historically, our main threat came from our eastern border but, ironically, it is the 'Muslim' western border where the main threat lies. The Durand Line, which was drawn about 100 years ago to maintain peace in this region, has expired and hence it is inevitable that there will be a huge impact on Pakistan after whatever happens in Afghanistan when the US withdraws by next year. So the real question is: are we, as a nation, prepared for this ugly backlash of war or will we completely leave the fate of this matter in the hands of the Pakistan army to envisage another covert defence strategy for the future?

ALI ZULFIQAR SOOMRO
Karachi

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