Afghanistan has been a key security issue for nearly three decades. The country has had to face internal turmoil which has had an impact on the overall security of the region. With the US desire of working towards peaceful resolution of the Afghan security situation, Pakistan is being viewed as a key player in helping resolve the situation. The recent visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, to the US also touched upon the issue of peace talks. Through that visit, it appeared that Trump and Khan were consistent in their views of making headways into the resolution of the Afghan issue.

The on ground situation depicts a different situation. Recently, there have been a string of incidents which indicate that there may be a deliberate attempt to sabotage the peace negotiations in Afghanistan. On the 27th of June 2019, there was a cross border terrorist attack by militant organizations on Pakistani troops patrolling the Afghan-Pakistan border. The attack signaled the deliberate attempt to target Pakistani military along the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Such attacks may also be an attempt to remove Pakistan from assuming the role of mediator in the resolution of the Afghan crisis.

It is worth mentioning that Pakistan has been utilizing its influence and position to urge the US and Taliban to come to the negotiation table. The US also requires Pakistan’s stimulus to help its withdrawal from Afghanistan. This indicates that the US is again realizing the importance of Pakistan in helping withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. This factor can help reinstate the relationship between the two countries due to the convergence of policy goals.

By conducting covert and subversive form of warfare, the aim of the detractors would be to enrage the Pakistani public and policymakers in order to disengage themselves from the peace settlement process. The attacks may have also been an attempt to make Pakistan involve themselves in ‘hot pursuits’ of terrorist hideouts within the territory of Afghanistan. However, the Pakistani political and military leadership has demonstrated an air of restraint against the rationale of engaging across the border in punitive strikes. This indicates the Pakistani resolve of wholeheartedly committing to the cause of Afghanistan because in the views of the Pakistani policymakers, such pursuits may be detrimental to the cause of peace settlement in Afghanistan.

There seems to be a sudden onset of unrest in Afghanistan with increased terrorist attacks by Taliban and Islamic State. In the last few weeks, there have been incidents within Afghanistan which indicate that there is increasing turmoil; this comes in the wake of US-Pakistan announcements that the current peace efforts were the furthest that they had ever been in achieving a settlement. In order for there to be a lasting peace settlement in Afghanistan, there needs to be peace within and along the borders of Afghanistan. While Pakistan has made significant strides in achieving peace within its own territory, there needs to be reciprocity of counterterrorism effort by the Afghan government as well. By controlling cross-border attacks/infiltrations, the Afghan government can instill further goodwill in the process of peacemaking and further enhance a synergistic effort to achieve peace for Afghanistan.

The continuation of cross border attacks from Afghanistan has the potential to derail the peace process because of the fact that it could invoke a reciprocal response from Pakistan. Even though Pakistan has demonstrated restraint during this incident, it is not an implied certainty that this will continue to be a norm for future cross border attacks on Pakistani territory. Therefore, there needs to be certain concrete steps taken in order to ensure that there are no further incidents of such nature. These steps could be in the form of joint border patrolling by Pakistani and Afghani forces along the border and effective intelligence sharing. By adopting these measures, both Pakistan and Afghanistan, can avoid incidents of miscommunication or mistakes.