ISLAMABAD, AUG 18 /DNA/ – Formation of an inclusive government combining all political shades and announcement of mass pardon in Afghanistan on the model of the conquest of Makkah will guarantee peace and stability which are much needed in the war-ravaged country following the Taliban’s ascendance to power in Kabul. This will also pave the way for recognition of the Taliban-led government, once formed, by regional countries including Pakistan.
This was noted at a session titled ‘Emerging Scenario in Afghanistan: Implications & Policy Options for Pakistan’ which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies to shed light on the dramatic fall of Kabul to the Taliban and its implications for Pakistan and the region.
Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan and IPS Vice Chairman Syed Abrar Hussain chaired the session while IPS Chairman Khalid Rahman gave the concluding remarks. Among the discussants were Brigadier (r) Said Nazir, defence and security analyst; Ambassador (r) Ayaz Wazir, Afghan affairs expert; Air Commodore (r) Khalid Iqbal, former Assistant Chief of Air Staff, PAF; Dr Tughral Yamin, Dean Center of International Peace and Stability, NUST; senior journalist Faizullah Khan; and Tajammul Altaf, former ambassador and senior research associate at IPS.
Khalid Iqbal was concerned about the “do more” mantra echoing in some corners of the western media which is holding Pakistan responsible for US failures in Afghanistan. He believed that Washington, out of frustration, is in search of a scapegoat to avoid the fallout of its botched-up mission in Afghanistan.
He warned against the cessation of financial aid from western countries to Afghanistan and urged Pakistan to step up its efforts and support for reconstruction of new Afghanistan. He stressed the need for improving people-to-people contact and bilateral trade between both neighbours and advised the government of Pakistan to avoid raising controversial issues with the Taliban-led government at this stage.
He further added that the chaotic pull-out from Afghanistan has tarnished the global superpower image of the US, which has reduced its complete reliance on India for containment of China in the region following the failure of India in Doklam and Ladakh vis-à-vis China.
Commenting on the military tactic of the Taliban, Brigadier (r) Said Nazir was of the view that the militant group adopted a multi-pronged strategy to seize power. On the diplomatic front, he said, the group was building good relations with regional countries through official visits while on the other hand they kept gaining control of border areas of Afghanistan to nip any future resistance in the bud. He termed the fall of Kabul as a swift and bloodless coup de grace.
He also urged Pakistani authorities to regulate border management effectively with regards to Afghanistan and pay caution to India’s manoeuvres in the region which is acting like a wounded hound after the fall of the Ghani regime.
Ayaz Wazir appreciated the changed stance of the Taliban regarding women’s education, human rights and press freedom, and hoped that the Taliban will be able to establish an inclusive government reflecting all ethnic and political shades of the country.
He underscored the need for recognition of the Taliban-led government by Pakistan once an inclusive government is formed in Kabul. After the recognition, he stressed, a delegation comprising journalists and politicians from Pakistan should visit Afghanistan to remove any misconceptions prevailing between both nations and pave the way for better bilateral ties. According to him, this will decimate the chances of Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.
Dr Tughral was of the view that Pakistan should be the first country to give legitimacy to the Taliban through recognition of their government as this will be remembered in the annals of history as a friendly gesture from Pakistan towards the people of Afghanistan. He opined that Pakistan should provide political, financial and diplomatic aid to Afghanistan in this need of hour and facilitate Afghan students and universities for access to quality education.
It was also observed during the session that the US exit from Afghanistan and the removal of the Delhi-backed Kabul government is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan. This warrants a strategy from Pakistan that can expedite regional cooperation to serve both current and long-term challenges vis-à-vis Afghanistan.
While concluding the session, Khalid Rahman put forth an ideal scenario underlining development agenda of Afghanistan through exploitation of natural resources, regional connectivity, and improved bilateral/multilateral trade. He also stressed the need for conducting studies to probe how much the USA spent on the welfare of the Afghans versus how much money it actually spent on appeasing corrupt officials of previous governments during the past 20 years.
He was of the opinion that Afghanistan can survive the absence of aid from the US and EU as the former’s netizens have proved it over the years. He believed the Afghans can boost Pakistan’s economy by investing billions of dollars as they have done in Turkey provided they are facilitated in this regard.
He urged the Pakistan government to create a conducive environment where Afghan refugees could return to their homeland in a dignified manner as Pakistan’s ambassadors on Afghan soil. Cricket diplomacy, he added, can further bring both nations closer as love for the game is shared on both sides of the border.