Reconciliation with the Taliban: Afghan-owned strategy must for headway in negotiations

Experts urge regional players to play constructive role; call for cooperation with EU.


Our Correspondent January 31, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


The ongoing negotiations with the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan can succeed only if led by the Afghans and by including all stakeholders in the process.


These views were shared by a majority of panellists at a conference, “European-Pakistan-Afghanistan Dialogue: Challenges and Prospects” jointly organised by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) on Monday. A number of German, Afghan and Pakistani parliamentarians participated in the dialogue.

The general sense of the conference was that the time is opportune for countries of the region to engage in meaningful dialogues with the European Union (EU) to draw up strategies for intensified cooperation in security, economic, political, technological, industrial, humanitarian and security fields.

Along with domestic stakeholders, panellists underlined the importance of regional players such as Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, China and Russia to bring peace and political stability in Afghanistan. They particularly urged Pakistan to play an important role for sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan. They also urged the international community not to not abandon Afghanistan as long as the Afghan government is stable enough to handle the situation by itself.

“Unstable Afghanistan is not only a challenge for regional stability but also for global stability at large,” said KAS Country Representative for Pakistan, Babak Khalatbari, while presiding over the first session of the conference.

Another panellist pointed out that the media needed to break through the barriers of officialdom to focus on a truthful exposition of problems of the people to ensure amity, faith, goodwill and understanding among the people of the region.

“Domestic and regional stakeholders in Afghanistan could play a key role in peace initiatives to ensure a permanent solution of the three- decade long imbroglio”, said Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema of the National Defence University.

Afghan Member Parliament Ishaq Gailani alleged that Waziristan is a hub of insurgents, who have always created security challenges in Afghanistan. “The people of the two countries want peace, but they are told lies by their governments always,” he added.

German Bundestag Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Member Ernst-Reinhard Beck said they underestimated the challenges in Afghanistan ten years back. Another member of German Bundestag CDU, Rodrich Kiesewetter, underlined the need for an Afghan-owned strategy for ending the uncertainty in Afghanistan. For this, he said, a regional approach to ensure mutual trust, transparency and negotiations must be pursued.

EU Ambassador to Pakistan Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said the EU is not only a trading partner of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but it also engages in dialogue on political and security issues.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2012.

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