There is a general agreement across the world that Afghanistan lies in the eye of the storm. The events that unfold there affect everyone and eyes remain tilted towards that landlocked nation that has in recent years shaped much of the world’s geopolitical scenario. The talks in Berlin between German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reflected this. Afghanistan remained the main focus of talks between the two ministers with both agreeing that they needed to cooperate to ensure stability in Afghanistan and within the territory occupied by its neighbours.
There was an important element to the talks during Ms Khar’s visit. Germany emphasised that it would not abandon Afghanistan after 2014 when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), led by Nato, is due to withdraw from the country, handing over security to Afghan forces. This will, of course, be a critical moment. It is vital that Afghanistan is not abandoned again as happened after the withdrawal of the Soviets a little over two decades ago. While the country must receive support, it is also crucial that its affairs are not meddled with and that no attempt is made to gain a hold over Kabul. Pakistan must keep this in mind as well. In the past, its interventions in Kabul have led it into deeper trouble. All countries of the world must agree to allow the people of Afghanistan to determine their own future destiny and discover true democracy.
Sadly, even today Afghanistan remains a troubled nation. It needs to find a means to help it move towards development and progress. The German pledge to look out for it is welcome. Pakistan, as a good neighbour, must encourage other nations of the world to follow suit and ensure Afghanistan can resume its rightful place in the world, after so many years, as a country with much potential and ability to lift itself above its violent past. If this does not happen, there can be no hope of lasting peace in the entire region or in the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.
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