Policy towards Afghanistan: Support dialogue, not dictation, politicians tell Pakistan

Published: February 1, 2012

Political parties say war is not a solution. PHOTO: IFTIKHAR FIRDOUS/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: 

The left and right may have arrived at a middle ground vis-à-vis peace in Afghanistan.

Parties from across the political spectrum, on both sides of the Durand Line, agreed on Tuesday that the international community, including Pakistan, should commit itself to non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

Pakistan ought to …

War is not a solution to anything, and therefore, we have to support dialogue among Afghans, not dictate their affairs, said Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a day-long conference, The Afghan Issue: Regional Implications and Suggestions for Sustainable Peace, organised by Center for Discussions and Solutions (CDS).

Pakistan is heading towards isolation and has virtually been left out of playing any role in the ongoing dialogue between US and the Taliban, Fazl said.

The JUI-F chief also insisted that Pakistan needs to mend fences with its neighbours, especially India, otherwise it risks turning into a ‘security state.’

Pakistan should concentrate on socio-economic cooperation, instead of geo-strategic obsession, said Awami National Party provincial president Afrasyab Khattak. He added that the country should try to befriend the Afghan people, not any particular group.

Balkanization of Afghanistan would not spare Pakistan, Khattak cautioned.

Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief, and chairman CDS, Qazi Hussain Ahmed also said that Pakistan should support the dialogue.

Afghan voices

Senior Hizb-e-Islami leader Ghairat Baheer said that CIA Director David Petraeus was ‘overlooking’ reconciliation talks in Afghanistan and had personally met him thrice in Kabul.

Son-in-law of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Baheer said the reconciliation in Afghanistan was ‘real’ this time.

“We don’t have any demands in these talks,” said Baheer. “We are seeking a package deal which includes a complete withdrawal of troops and a peaceful transition of power.”

“Talks would have to have a broader spectrum and all factions will have to be taken on board for a complete solution,” he said, adding that his party did not demand any office or release of prisoners.

“I hope talks with the Taliban will be successful in Qatar, but Pakistan will have to play a positive role,” he added.

The Afghan people want foreign forces to leave their country and will continue to fight until that happens, said former Afghan prime minister Ahmed Shah Ahmedzai, who is now heading the United National Front against Presence of Western Bases in Afghanistan.

Any solution to the issue should be broad based, Ahmedzai said, adding that if the Taliban come to power again, our message for them is they should not act like they did in the past.

Former intelligence chiefs Gen (retd) Hamid Gul and Gen Asad Durrani also spoke at the conference.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2012.

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