ISLAMABAD: Participants of an open discussion on developments in Afghanistan and its impacts on Pakistan urged the government to build a regional consensus among Afghanistan’s neighbours on the way forward for the country. They called for convening a regional summit on the subject. The open discussion was jointly organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) and the Pak-Afghan Youth Forum (PAYF) here on Wednesday.

The founder of the Afghan Eye Mr Ahmed Waleed Kakar argued that the Taliban government had not prioritized technocrats for technical positions in its government and urged them to strike a balance between placing their own members on key government positions and having people with technical knowledge on important technically complicated assignments. He also criticized the Taliban government in Afghanistan for the reports of extra-judicial killings, arrests, and torture coming out of Afghanistan. 

Defence analyst Lt Gen (Retd) Asif Yaseen argued that criticism against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan over placing non-experts in key ministries was misplaced because the trend was the same in other developing countries as well. He further maintained that criticizing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan over burkas was also misplaced because it was something culturally intrinsic to Afghanistan on which the international community could not dictate to it. He was of the opinion that the Taliban government in Afghanistan should be called the Government of Afghanistan.

Gen Yaseen floated the idea of holding a regional summit on Afghanistan that could pave the way for the recognition of the Taliban government in Afghanistan by three or more countries from the region. He also called for flooding Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance from Pakistan for winning the hearts and minds of Afghans. He cautioned the international community against having expectations from the Afghans that they could not deliver on in the given circumstances.

Former Senator Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif argued that the decision of recognition of the Taliban government in Afghanistan needed to be taken keeping in view the national interest of Pakistan as well as the best interest of the people of Afghanistan. He was of the opinion that Pakistan did not need to wait for other countries to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan because the Taliban were in full control of the whole territory of Afghanistan and it was in the best interest of Pakistan and the people of Afghanistan to do it earnestly.

Barrister Saif further maintained that many Western countries had given a de facto recognition to the Taliban government in Afghanistan by engaging with them diplomatically since their coming into power in Afghanistan. He regretted that the Americans did not appreciate Pakistan’s role in the war on terror in their support. Barrister Saif was of the view that slowly and gradually the Taliban government in Afghanistan would moderate itself but it could not do so at the moment because of internal pressure.

Defence analyst Lt Gen (Retd) Naeem Lodhi maintained that no other country was entitled to impose its ideas of culture on Afghanistan. He asked why Pakistan was waiting for other countries before extending recognition to the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Commenting on the possibility of the grant of pardon to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Gen Lodhi argued that the government should not do it without taking into confidence the victims of the terrorism unleashed by the TTP on the people of Pakistan.

Religious scholar Dr Israr Madani said that Taliban’s fight against Daesh was having a detrimental impact on sectarian harmony in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as the clash was perceived by many on both sides to be a clash between the Deobandis and Salafis. He urged the Taliban to study the models of other Islamic states like Indonesia and Pakistan to devise an Islamic model that would suit the modern-day realities. He also urged the Government of Pakistan to initiate ulema diplomacy with the Taliban government in Afghanistan to assist them in overcoming their national and international challenges.