Islamabad: Afghan Peace Process is a golden opportunity for Pakistan to play smart diplomacy with continuity as Pakistan has a lot to gain from this peace process. Pakistan should not interfere in intra-Afghan affairs, which is not in interest of Pakistan, instead Pakistan can help Afghanistan economically, and facilitating Afghan Refugees, which will help build confidence between two countries.
This was the crux of experts deliberation at a special seminar titled “Afghan Peace Process: Implications and Stability”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Thursday at Islamabad.
Salman Bashir, Former Foreign Secretary said that there is no attention paid towards social and economic development of Afghanis by the stakeholders. Afghan’s economic stability is more important amid political process and peace process, which has destroyed since long. He said that Pakistan should also focus on CPEC plus by expanding CPEC to Afghanistan which is in interest of both China and Pakistan. He cautioned that if there is no consensus during peace process till mid of this year, US may withdraw its troops, which could resulted in civil war and chaos in Afghanistan. However, there is need of orderly US withdrawal from Afghanistan, he added.
Ambassador (retired) Ayaz Wazir said that Pakistan should support Afghan owned and Afghans led peace resolution and should pursue its own interest instead meddling with intra Afghan affairs. Pakistan is not prepared to handle Afghanistan, as we failed to handle our tribal areas. He said that today, writ of Afghan government is historic low and Afghan Taliban has control over 70 percent of the total territory, which pushed the stakeholders, especially USA, to talk and negotiate. As Afghanistan’s presidential elections are due in April this year, Afghani including Taliban would never accept any political set-up similar to the incumbent government. Responding to a question he said that India during peace process would remain quiet and wait for its opportunist time. He proposed that if both countries’ intelligence agencies signed an MOU of mutual cooperation on sharing cross border intelligence that would prove a real corner stone for building confidence between Afghans and Pakistan.
Imtiaz Gul, Senior Analyst said that the progress towards the recent Afghan peace process is a sea change in last couple of weeks. He said that effort for peace and stability in Afghanistan is a shared and regional responsibility of all stakeholders. Efforts should be made to take Iran and Russia on board, to make the negotiations a success and meaningful. Responsibility also lies on Taliban that they should give guaranty to the stakeholders that all minorities in Afghanistan would remain unharmed and there would remain ceasefire till peace talks conclusion, he added. He further said that we have to develop a comprehensive strategy and policy for Afghan refugees to counter the negative propaganda.
Ambassador (Retired) Shafqat KakaKhel, Chairman Board of Governor, SDPI said that every country including Pakistan and Afghanistan has a major stake in peace and stability. Stressing the need of mutual cooperation, he said that there is a tremendous potential of medical tourism between Pak and Afghanistan, where Peshawar city can be a hub for medical tourism. We should not think of strategic depth instead economic depth, where we have around 5 billion dollar trade potential. He said that Pakistan should not only contribute in restoration of peace but also sustainability of peace which would reinforce the unity among the two states.
Dr Shafqat Munir, Senior Advisor and Director Resilient Development Program, SDPI said that Afghanistan always remained a key diplomatic challenge for Pakistan on security and internal political front. As Afghan peace process enters a new phase, it is hoped that the peace and stability would prevail in the region, he added.