Former Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and now leader of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, was in Pakistan in the last week of September seeking the latter’s help in getting the Taliban to stop killing and sit down with the government in Kabul and talk about the future of the country. Persian-speaking Abdullah was immediately likeable, quoting Pakistan’s national poet Allama Iqbal in Persian and speaking Urdu with TV hosts. In terms of public relations, he was an immediate success in contrast to President Ashraf Ghani, whose earlier visit was marked with stiffness because of his scepticism about Islamabad’s “friendship” with his government.
Both visits were a parable of paradox. Ghani was a Pakhtun deeply suspicious of Pakistan, Abdullah, a Tajik, seemed upbeat. The Pakhtun represent the external image of Afghanistan but they are deeply divided. Tajik Abdullah is supposed to be pro-India but appears to have forgotten wha