Verbal Crossfire: Afghans Respond to Pakistani Army Chief’s Controversial Remarks

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The remarks by Pakistani army chief General Asim Munir have sparked outrage in Afghanistan, triggering a cascade of reactions from Afghan politicians, citizens, and experts. 

Munir’s comments, made to students in Pakistan in January, cast a shadow on the delicate relationship between the two neighboring nations.His assertion that, for the “safety and security of every single Pakistani, the whole of Afghanistan can be damned,” has not only ignited a political uproar but has also stirred the anger of the Afghan people. The controversial statement, widely disseminated by Pakistani media, has become a focal point for heated discussions on social media.Afghan politicians, both in diaspora and within the country, have been swift in their response to the perceived affront. A former Member of Parliament, opting for anonymity, lambasted the language employed by the Pakistani Army chief, emphasizing the need for restraint in discourse.“The language used lacked political respect, full of vulgarism, and moral refinement,” asserted the MP. “While Afghanistan should ideally maintain positive relations with its close neighbor, such irresponsible statements only contribute to escalating problems.”The historical tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan add complexity to the present situation. While Pakistan has sheltered millions of Afghan refugees since 1978, historical grievances and disputes persist. Nazir Khan, a resident of Peshawar, expressed regret over the actions of the Pakistani government and army in Afghanistan.“As a Pashtun, I feel deeply sad regarding the actions of the Pakistani government and army in Afghanistan. While we offered refuge to Afghans in our country, our actions against them were unjustified.”The contentious AF-PAK border line, known as the Durand Line, symbolizes a deeper challenge in the relationship between the two nations. Disagreements over this demarcation and a significant water problem involving the Kabul and Kunar rivers exacerbate the already strained ties.Janbaaz, a 70-year-old retired Afghan colonel from the border military forces, accuses Pakistan of pursuing a two-faced policy in Afghanistan, contributing to the country’s destruction over the last five decades.“Pakistan is pursuing a two-faced policy in Afghanistan, presenting an image of peace and development while engaging in actions that speak otherwise,” said Janbaaz.The strained relationship has further deteriorated due to recent conflicts between the Taliban and the Pakistani government. This has resulted in a decline in trade, making it more challenging for Afghans to travel to Pakistan. Visa approvals have decreased, impacting the well-being of border provinces and disrupting the overall relationship.In the face of these challenges, experts on Afghanistan and Pakistan advocate for cordial ties, good neighborliness, and a commitment to respectful dialogue. They stress the importance of abstaining from meddling in internal matters, avoiding divisive or provocative remarks, and fostering mutual respect between the two nations. As the echoes of discord reverberate, the path to reconciliation appears steep, with both sides grappling with a complex web of historical grievances and contemporary challenges.Ilhamuddin Afghan is a university professor based in Afghanistan.

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