By Seema Sirohi, The Diplomat ,15 August 2015
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani seems to have arrived at the same conclusion about Pakistan that his predecessor did but after making a sincere 10-month effort to reach out to his meddlesome neighbor. The realization, therefore, is that much starker.
After a series of bloody attacks on the Afghan army, police and U.S. special forces in Kabul over the weekend that killed more than 57 people, Ghani accused Pakistan of sending “messages of war” and sheltering suicide bombers, supplying them with military-grade explosives and doing nothing to halt their plans.
Within hours of his angry statements, the U.S. State Department came to Pakistan’s rescue, saying Washington did not have “specific intelligence” to conclude whether Islamabad was involved in the attacks. Privately, officials conveyed a sense that Ghani was “posturing” since he had gone out on a political limb to make peace with Pakistan and was disappointed.
The attacks followed revelations that Mullah Omar had died in 2013 in Karachi, a fact that was kept hidden both by the Taliban and its mentors, the Pakistani army and the ISI. The Pakistan-sponsored “peace talks” collapsed as a bitter struggle ensued to claim Omar’s mantle.
Pakistan’s man is Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, who had been acting in Mullah Omar’s name, with ISI’s help. He is believed to have endorsed peace talks with Afghanistan but Mansur’s first act to prove his leadership was to let loose a dance of death against the Afghan people and security forces.
In Pakistani and American reckoning, Ghani is supposed to “understand” and absorb the attacks in the context of various Taliban factions vying for control. An editorial in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper justified the violence with these remarkable words: “The wave of Taliban attacks may be partly for the new leadership, or the leadership contenders, to establish their bona fides as genuine Taliban leaders and not mere power-hungry leaders.”