Islamabad must keep facilitating intra-Afghan talks

'If the Intra-Afghan Dialogue fails, then Afghanistan may be submerged into a civil war.'

News Desk April 23, 2020
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, US envoy for peace in Afghanistan, at a signing agreement ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the US in Doha, Qatar February 29, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

As the intra-Afghan talks between the fractured government in Kabul and the Afghan Taliban stutter, Islamabad must remain steadfast and wholeheartedly facilitate the process for peace and stability in the region.

This was suggested by speakers during an online, national conference on the “Post-Doha Agreement Afghanistan: Implications and Options for Pakistan”. The conference was jointly organised by the Center for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) and University of Peshawar’s Area Study Centre.

Lt Gen (retired) Naeem Lodhi, a former federal defence minister and a senior member of CGSS’ advisory board, claimed that several clauses of the Doha agreement have been kept secret.

“The US is not leaving Afghanistan willingly and still has interests in the region due to Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Indian Ocean,” he said. Despite the exit, he said that Washington will continue to pursue its interests through other means.

Regarding the Intra-Afghan Dialogue, he said that Islamabad must continue to play the role of a facilitator in the process.

Former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Home and Tribal Affairs secretary Dr Syed Shah pointed out the importance of understanding the perception of different stakeholders in the peace process. The Taliban aim to establish an Islamic emirate and have their own interpretation of Sharia, he said, adding that this will require structural amendments to the Afghan constitution as it is currently centralized.

If the Intra-Afghan Dialogue fails, then Afghanistan may be submerged into a civil war.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2020.