Participants in a discussion on US Withdrawal from Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Strategy, held at the Centre for Public Policy and Governance, Forman Christian College, on Thursday considered Pakistan’s policy in the light of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The seminar was presided over by MNA Bushra Gohar, chairperson for the standing committee on Women’s Development. Ahmed Rashid, former ambassador Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Prof Sajjad Naseer, Dr Sarfaraz Khan, Additional IGP (Training) Sarmad Saeed Khan, Amir Rana, Dr Saeed Shafqat, Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Fareed Paracha, Khaled Ahmed, Imtiaz Gul and Ejaz Haider were prominent among the speakers.
The dialogue was held in three sessions. The first session related to Pakistan’s Afghan policy in light of the US exit strategy and the various scenarios for Pakistan. Rashid argued that Pakistan needed to facilitate the peace process and balance its interests with those of other countries in the region. He reflected upon the flawed strategies pursued by Pakistan in the past and the importance of a broad-based Afghan government. Khan suggested that Pakistan should extend help to its neighbours to counter de-stabilising factors in the region.
In the second session, the participants talked about Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and extremism strategies. The speakers in this session included Ahmed, Gul, Rana and AIG Khan. Ahmed emphasised the need for the government to establish its writ. AIG Khan said there was a need to improve the governance. Gul emphasised the ‘lack of a political will’.
The dialogue concluded with the third session where participants discussed the policy options. They stressed the need for a foreign policy owned by the parliamentarians, above military influence and reframing strategic depth and establishing regional peace. Matters relating to sectarian violence, extremism and agreement on Durand Line were also discussed.
US Consulate General Carmela Conroy was also present at the seminar. She said Pakistan had to deal with extremists in its own interests. Discussion sessions were followed by a question-answer session. More than 50 FCC students and faculty were present.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.
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