Islamabad, February 28, 2018: Pakistan needs to be cautious about the US-Taliban peace deal as several similar deals were initiated by the US in past as well, only to pulled-off later when it did not serve their interests and needs.
The thoughts were shared by Ambassador (r) Abrar Hussain while speaking to the roundtable conference ‘Afghanistan in Transition: Ramification of Current Engagement with the Taliban’ which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).
The speakers’ panel also included Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf, Ambassador (r) Ayaz Wazir, Brigadier (r) Said Nazir, Air Commodore (r) Khalid Iqbal, Dr Qibla Ayaz, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology and Israr Madani, religious scholar and media analyst. Executive President IPS Khalid Rahman chaired the session.
Highlighting various complexities involved in the US-Taliban peace deal, Ambassador Abrar said that there were still several objectives left for US to stay in Afghanistan including its economic interests as well as to counter China and Russia in the region, but so far they have failed in achieving their goal.
India, too, would not favor the process as it did not want to see pro-Pakistan elements back in power. The Taliban on the other hand did not want to talk to the Afghan government as they believe it was nothing more than a puppet serving the West.
The analyst also commended Pakistan’s role in the peace process, maintaining that the effort being made by the country were aimed at restoring peace and stability in the region at large.
Ambassador (r) Ayaz Wazir was of the opinion that Taliban cannot make government alone in Afghanistan as there was a difference between the Taliban of 1990s and of now.
There is resistance for them especially from the Afghan youth who had to live in other countries as refugees and now do not want Taliban back in power, he added.
The former diplomat viewed that the Taliban will have to start the peace dialogue with the Afghan government as they can only come back in power if their dialogue concludes successfully, he said.
Wazir also warned Pakistan to stay wary of India who does not want a peace deal and is likely to play its games to avert the process.
Air Cdr (r) Iqbal opined that the key to peace was in the hands of Taliban, and the stability in the region would not be achieved without giving them their fair share. He viewed that Trump wants US to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible but Pentagon and other security agencies think this could result in chaos and hence should not be done in a haste.
Brig (r) Nazir too expressed his reservations over the hasty withdrawal of US from Afghanistan, fearing that it would create a vacuum in the country similar to 1990s, making the situation even more problematic.
Dr Qibla Ayaz was of the opinion that the Taliban think US was losing the war but in reality the withdrawal was more because of the Trump’s nationalistic approach which did not want to waste country’s resources in Afghanistan, whereas and the neo liberals of the country were supporting his stance as well.
Qibla also pointed that the only solution for the Afghan crisis was to make a coalition government, otherwise the Afghan government will crumble in few days if the US stops supporting it. The result could be disastrous with the eruption of a civil war as well as the possibility of a socio-economic crisis, making the situation even worse than 1990s, which in turn would also have an impact on the neighboring Pakistan.
EP-IPS Khalid Rahman concluded the session stating that as much as it was the need of the region, the peace process was a long procedure itself. It was a success for Taliban that their importance was being acknowledged, but it was also a challenge for them to make use of this opportunity. He said that there would also be elements, such ISIS and other non-state actors, who would try their best to derail the process, but it was in best interest of the region that the peace should prevail.
Rahman also commended Qatar for playing a vital role in initiating the peace deal, viewing that the country alongside Pakistan had a much important role to play in future as well in this regard.