Engage with Taliban, now

The best way to help Afghanistan is through a policy of engagement


October 13, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan is spot on, on Afghanistan As an ardent campaigner of a political solution in the war-shattered country, he believes that until and unless the Taliban are incentivised, peace will remain a far cry in Southwest Asia. He is right in his perspective, and it’s high time the world listen to his piece of advice. What Pakistan has been consistently saying on world fora is a simple binary — that the advent of Taliban in Afghanistan should be embraced, and the militia be given a fair chance to help rebuild the country. War-mongering hasn’t worked in the mountainous terrain, and the disgraced exit of the Soviets and the Americans is current history. Rather than jumping the gun, and plunging the desolate landlocked country in another civil strife, why not work with the new dispensation in Kabul, and cajole it to walk the talk of installing an inclusive governance module?

The best way to help Afghanistan is through a policy of engagement. This will settle many of the irritants, and usher in perpetual peace in the region for the first time in four decades. Talking to the Middle East Eye, PM Khan has referred to the obvious by illustrating that the consequences of not doing anything, and acting as a spectator while destitute Afghans hit neighbouring borders as a diaspora, will be disastrous. While the Taliban long for recognition, the least that can be forthcoming is aid and assistance to help the regime overcome the humanitarian and governance crisis.

Islamabad has fairly made a case because it knows the region and, moreover, has been a victim of centrifugal revulsion since the 9/11 attacks. It has defeated the terror nexus on its home ground, and is conscious of the fact that renewed lawlessness in Afghanistan will have a devastating impact on Pakistan, too. It will, nonetheless, have a snowball reaction across the region, inevitably buoying terror remnants to stage a comeback. This is what Pakistan wants to deter, and the simple route to it is to enable the de facto political entity in Kabul to take charge of their destiny.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2021.

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