Pakistan is considered a key factor in establishing peace in Afghanistan, which has been the setting of the War on Terror for nearly two decades. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, reiterated this point on his arrival in Islamabad on April 5 to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The US has been in the process of peace talks with the Afghanistan leadership and the Afghan Taliban in efforts to stabilise the country. The latest development which exudes greater hope than before is that the US, which is mainly spearheading the peace dialogue in Afghanistan, appears to be expressing a desire to strategise and take all stakeholders on board.
The stakeholders most affected by Afghanistan turmoil have been its people. FM Qureshi supports that people’s sentiments need to be considered and this is a welcome recognition. Simultaneously, Khalilzad has sought to take the Afghan youth into confidence as a strategy to rehabilitate the country, which suggests that the new policy takes on a more cohesive form. Afghan youth will play a crucial role in the future stability and development of the country and it is reasonable to foster trust between them and the major countries partly responsible for the turmoil and involved in the process.
One aspect that should have been obvious was Pakistan’s position in helping with Afghan peace. Despite policies and sometimes sour relations, Pakistan has been willing for peace in Afghanistan, especially due to its significance in establishing regional peace, which has positive implications for the economy and other sectors. The US reinforced that Pakistan needs to be more involved in Kabul in order for relations between the US and Pakistan to improve. It was expected the US would make this point, particularly against the backdrop of generally sour relations between PM Khan and President Trump. However, the US should consider that Pakistan has suffered loss, insurgency and stability problems on its own soil throughout the war.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2019.
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