The country’s civil and military officials will brief key members of parliament this week on the current situation in Afghanistan and its likely implications for the country.
The National Assembly’s Committee on National Security will meet on Thursday. The meeting, convened by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser, will be attended by NA Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and others parliamentary leaders.
Other than the regular members of the committee, special invitations have also been sent to key ministers and several opposition members. In the in-camera meeting, civil and military authorities will brief the committee about the current situation in Afghanistan as well Pakistan’s stance.
The opposition members have been complaining that the elected representatives have been kept in the dark about Pakistan’s policy with regard to Afghanistan which faces an uncertain future and is potentially heading towards another civil war. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto during his budget speech raised the issue and demanded a briefing from the relevant authorities on Afghan situation.
Bilawal on Monday took credit of the meeting of the National Security Committee saying he was the one who was seeking this all important meeting. It is expected that military and intelligence authorities would apprise the committee about the policy being pursued by Pakistan on Afghanistan and the country’s strategy to deal with the negative fallout of unrest in the neighboring country.
Since the US and Nato forces began their withdrawal from May 1, the Afghan Taliban have made rapid inroads, capturing over 70 districts in 6 months and even stretching their influence to the north which had never been their stronghold in the past.
The Taliban’s advancement is so rapid that it even caught Pakistan by surprise. Officials told The Express Tribune that Pakistan was not expecting the Taliban to make quick gains after the US and Nato began pulling their troops out of the war-torn country.
The biggest worry in Pakistan is that in the absence of a political settlement, Afghanistan may be heading towards another cycle of civil war. American officials have acknowledged that the country that is going to be affected the most because of the Afghan civil war is Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed similar fears in a recent interview to the New York Times.
He warned that in case of a civil war, Pakistan would be compelled to seal off its border with Afghanistan.Any unrest in Afghanistan will trigger a fresh influx of refugees while groups such as banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may be further emboldened by the volatile situation.
Against his backdrop, there is a fear that Pakistan may face multiple challenges that will have serious security, political and economic implications for the country.
The civil and military authorities will likely explain Pakistan’s position on Afghanistan, the US demand for bases in the country and other dimensions. It is expected that other than Afghanistan, the Indo-Pakistan ties in the context of the situation in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir would also be discussed during the closed-door meeting on Thursday.
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