Pakistan has been the more thoughtful and restrained party in South Asia’s recent crisis, said Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) Chairperson Humayun Akhtar Khan at a discussion about the regional situation held on Thursday in Islamabad by the Institute. He said that the credit for this goes to the Prime Minister, whose leadership has prevented a hazardous situation from escalating further. There has been international appreciation of our conduct. He pointed out that the recklessness of Indian reaction to the Pulwama attack carried grave risks. By dismissing the human tragedy in Kashmir as a foreign conspiracy, India is neglecting its responsibility to the people of Kashmir.
However, Pakistan’s weak economy and dependence has reduced its global standing. We must completely restructure the economy so that the country can achieve sustained growth that empowers people and builds a strong society. He said that peace in Afghanistan holds great promise for regional prosperity. Pakistan will benefit from the trade and transit networks and energy corridors.
Former Chief of General Staff General Ishfaq Nadeem said that the endgame in Afghanistan held considerable promise for Pakistan and the region. Developments are evolving rapidly as the United States (US) wishes to limit involvement in overseas conflicts.
Peace is possible if US negotiations with the Taliban are successful. However, if diplomatic efforts fail and USA withdraws unilaterally, the Afghan conflict will prolong indefinitely.
Given the mistrust and differing objectives of various players, reconciliation among Afghans would be difficult. Also, reconciliation is only the means. Without much-needed socio-economic development, reconciliation will falter. Afghanistan has become a ground for proxy wars, especially between India and Pakistan. Relations between the two countries have had a bearing on the restoration of peace. The current flare up will add more fuel to the Afghan conflict.
General Ishfaq expressed the hope that all US agencies would work together to successfully conclude the end-game in Afghanistan. US must also support the re-construction of Afghanistan to sustain peace.
Also focusing on Afghan peace negotiations, former Corps Commander Peshawar General Asif Yasin said that many regions around the globe have been in turmoil since WWII. South Asia especially has been in constant turmoil since 1948. None of the South Asian countries have successfully improved the wellbeing of their people or realised their potential. World powers have armed these countries and also have manipulated their policies. As a consequence, these countries remain in poverty and in a dismal social state.
Today is a turning point as the conflict in Afghanistan reaches culmination. Its outcome would go a long way in determining the future of the region, as well as its progress and prosperity.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2019.