http://nation.com.pk/lahore/16-May-2015/afghanistan-not-an-easy-country-to-keep-with ‘Afghanistan not an easy country to keep with’ May 16, 2015 LAHORE - Drawing the attention of policy makers towards four major issues with Pak-Afghan relations, renowned author Ahmad Rashid has said the neighbouring country is not easy to keep together. “Noting the half-baked nature of the Afghanistan, our policy makers should be careful while expanding relations with the neighbouring country,” the distinguished journalist said while speaking at a lecture on “Understanding Afghanistan” at the Centre for Governance and Policy in IT University Lahore on Friday, according to a press release. Mr Rashid is the author of New York Times bestseller “Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia”. The book was translated into 22 languages and widely being used by international analysts for reference. While presenting his suggestions for major players in shaping foreign policy, Mr Rashid also pointed out the weaknesses of government in combating the wave of terror in Pakistan. At the first, he highlighted the dismal outcomes of power sharing agreement with Afghan government. The current government, Mr Rashid noted, took nine months to agree on a cabinet, but even now the country has no foreign minister. The second issue, he held, is the increasing popularity of Afghan Taliban. “Unlike the Pakistani Taliban who splintered into various groups with little connection, Afghan Taliban are cohesive group,” he maintained. He said the uncertain attitude of Afghan government towards talks with hardliners is making Taliban stronger; very soon they will also lose interest in talks and simply wait till a time they can take over again. Noting the dramatic decrease in the popularity of President Ashraf Ghani from about 80% to about 30% in less than a year, Rashid expected Taliban to be popular in Afghanistan - even more than the present government. Raising the third issue, Rashid emphasised the importance of a sound counter terrorism policy in Pakistan. He lamented the fact that the National Action Plan, agreed upon by all parties after much deliberation, is merely a paper now with no implementation. “Pakistan needs to have zero tolerance of terror groups, of every kind, and needs to use it as leverage among the Afghan Taliban so that they come to an agreement with the Afghan government soon - especially before the goodwill runs out,” he stated. Mr Rashid also pointed out the increasing role of China in the region and its own strategic and economic interests in the region which will very soon critically impact Afghanistan and Pakistan. A focus on these four points, would lead to a more informed, coordinated, and lasting policy in and towards Afghanistan, Ahmed Rashid concluded. In the end, Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Nizamuddin gave Mr Ahmed Rashid a shield in appreciation of his excellent talk. Mr Amjad Saleemi, Treasurer ITU, gave him a gift from the university, while Centre’s Director Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash gave him a copy of his new book: ‘A Princely Affair’.