Mao siad, “So many deeds cry out to be done, always urgently. The world rolls on, time passes; seize the day, seize the hour.” We are living in interesting and dangerous times. What we need is a frank debate on both foreign policy and internal security. But since nobody knows the details of our foreign agreements it is hard to know where to begin. Add to this the recurring problem of our internal imbalance balance of power on the civil-military front — can we be really sure that decisions are made after serious consideration of both pros and cons. The closing of the Pak-Afghan border, for example, definitely proved counterproductive. It caused more loss to Pakistani traders than to the Afghan government. Our problem is that we believe in quick force for quick results. The good news is that Pakistan and Afghanistan have okayed ‘tangible’ confidence-building measures even if only after the intervention of the UK — our former colonial master. Pakistan’s Afghanistan problem is tied up intrinsically with notions of strategic depth. We got it wrong from the start. We patronised religious anti-Shah forces. Then following the ‘Sour Revolution’ we promptly disregarded the Durand line’s sanctity, taking on the Soviets in a never-ending rain of bombs and bullets all to help out the Yanks. Yet we remained surprised when the Khad returned the favour. This brings to mind the famous quote from Pathan leader Wali Khan: “When we send bombers to Afghanistan we should not expect bouquets from them.” Now, everyone knows why we encouraged Afghans to come to here: the cash we received for every single one of them. Then, in a bitter twist of irony, we sent these refugees to our own terrorist training camps before sending them back home to duly participate in this “war of liberation”. And now we have the audacity to denounce these refugee camps as incubators of terrorism. As if that were not enough, Pakistan went on to establish the Afghan Taliban — overseeing their rise to power. To be honest, it is Pakistan’s good luck that these guys are no longer part of the government. Nobody can rule Afghanistan by mortgaging its national interest to another country, least of all Pakistan. The only way forward is to ditch this policy of strategic depth towards Afghanistan. The latter is, after all a sovereign country and we had better get used to the idea. Instead of always decrying Afghanistan’s other puppet master, India. We would do well to have friendly relations with Afghanistan. We could start by upping cross-border trade not to mention offering to train their law enforcement agencies. There is no shame in exploiting our shared history and culture for mutual gain. Luckily, we have some Pathan leaders who are respected on both sides of the borders. We should make the most of them and launch Track II diplomacy efforts with a view to establishing long-term plans to eliminate all forms of terrorism in the region. Unfortunately or fortunately, we raise the slogan, ‘Pak-Chiny Bhai Bhai’ when we should be concentrating on ‘Afghan-Pakistani Bhai Bhai.’ This is the only way to deal terrorism in both countries, with the added bonus of providing trade routes to Central Asia. In addition, we should set up a joint commission to combat terrorism — but with meetings held in Islamabad and Kabul, not London. Whenever tensions run high, Pakistan’s media and intellectuals jump at the chance to remind anyone who will listen that the former opposed our admission into the UN. How soon we forget that it was Afghanistan that kept our western borders safe during our numerous wars with India. And how did we repay them? We violated the international border during the latest American war. It is, indeed, a bitter twist of history that today US forces are in Kabul when once they had assisted the Muslim mujahedeen in dislodging Soviet occupation forces. Tailpiece: Swindlers are still very active. I am sharing their names and mobile numbers. Though I doubt the relevant quarters will take action. Sohail, Islamabad cell 0337 1657142, Syed Raheel Bokhari Karachi cell 0310 8309252 and Raja Asif 0301 6093895.