‘Intra-Afghan accord before US pullout critical for peace’

Experts fear civil war sans credible governance structure in Afghanistan

News Desk June 03, 2021
FILE PHOTO: Members of the US Navy carry a comrade wounded by an explosion to a medevac helicopter in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan October 2, 2010. REUTERS

The US departure without putting up a credible governance structure in Afghanistan may descend the war-torn country into a new civil war, according to local experts.

Speaking at a webinar titled "US withdrawal from Afghanistan: Threats to regional peace, within and without", organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), an Islamabad-based think-tank, on Wednesday, the experts urged Washington not to repeat the mistake, similar to the one happened after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, which triggered years-long bloodshed between Mujahideen groups in the country.

Brigadier (retd) Said Nazir, an Islamabad-based geostrategic analyst, feared a further rise in an already intense power struggle between the Taliban and the Kabul government after the completion of the ongoing pull-out process, which would have "direct consequences" for neighbouring Pakistan.

Washington, he opined, would act as a mere distant spectator of the "mess" if it leaves without putting up a power-sharing structure in Kabul.

Commenting on the much-de bated proposal of allowing Washington to carry out its counter-terrorism operations from Pakistani soil after the pull-out, he cautioned the move will allow anti-state elements, including Daesh and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), to regroup labelling Pakistan a US proxy.

Syed Abrar Hussain, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, was of the view that regional countries do not want the Taliban to rule Afghanistan alone as they fear it would bring about militancy and violence to the region.

Hence, he suggested, an intra-Afghan dialogue before the US departure is needed for sustainable peace.

Jumma Khan Sufi, an author and expert on Afghan affairs, said the UK is trying to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer in a bid to solve bilateral issues that have prevailed between the neighbours for a long time.

He contended that the UK facilitated the recent meeting between Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

He stressed that Pakistan needs to press the regional power brokers to ensure Afghanistan recognises the existing Pak-Afghan border for a long-term settlement.

Talking about his recent visit to Afghanistan, Hasan Khan, a Peshawar-based analyst, said the Afghan people generally like Pakistan and do not despise it as is often depicted in media, especially social media. Nonetheless, the Afghans are not happy with either the Taliban or the Kabul government and think that the US has betrayed Afghanistan once again by leaving the country in a mess.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2021.