Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 24th, 2021

Pakistan Carries Significant Role in Afghan Peace Process

Pakistan is able to play a highly significant role in the Afghan peace process if it puts its weight behind. Talking to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister reiterated his support to the peace process. Khan will visit Afghanistan as Ghani invited him.
Afghan officials have stated on multiple occasions that Pakistan had leverage on the Taliban leadership and would be able to play instrumental role. However, Afghan and Pakistani officials exchanged harsh rhetoric and the blame game continued for years. Afghans said that Pakistan harbored the Taliban and militant groups, which was denied by Pakistan. On the other side, Pakistani officials and the media said that Pakistan’s stability was threatened from the Afghan soil and feared the spillover. The blame game was proved counterproductive and damaged the bilateral relations between the two sides.
With Khan at the helm, Afghan officials were highly optimistic and believed that Pakistan would support the Afghan peace process. But there came no changes about Islamabad’s attitude towards Afghanistan’s issues.
Pakistani authorities said they played a role in brokering talks between the United States and the Taliban leadership, which was unlikely to bear fruit without Islamabad’s support. Pakistan also hosted Taliban delegations.
Pakistani officials also said that war would not lead to peace or stability in Afghanistan and the warring factions had to sit around the negotiating table.
In his statements with Ghani, Khan “reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support to the Afghan peace process and noted the positive results of these efforts culminating in US-Taliban peace agreement and the commencement,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Office. He added that “Pakistan will fully support the decision that the Afghan people will take about their future.”
Islamabad’s support for the peace process will be highly crucial at this juncture as the Afghan and Taliban negotiating teams have started their face-to-face talks in the Qatari capital of Doha. Having strong leverage on the Taliban, Pakistan can push the Taliban to reach an agreement with the Afghan government. Khan also reiterated declaration of “ceasefire” by the Taliban side, which tops Afghanistan’s agenda.
It is self-explanatory that exchanging harsh rhetoric will mar the peace process. If relations thaw between Kabul and Islamabad, it will be in the interests of both sides as well as regional states. For instance, if Pakistan really fears the spillover, it has to back the process and push the Taliban to reach an agreement without much haggling or demanding too many concessions.
Exchange of official trips between Pakistani and Afghan officials – as head of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah is also said to visit Pakistan in few days – will be a really good news.
It is time Kabul and Islamabad have to bury their differences and cement their ties. Pakistan has to stand by its commitment and play its role constructively vis-à-vis peace process. To put it in a nutshell, bombastic terms void of sincerity are likely to compound mistrust.
The Taliban seem less logical in their discussions with the Afghan negotiating team and seek to cross the red-line defined by their interlocutors. Meanwhile, the Taliban fighters have intensified their attacks despite the ongoing talks and stress on declaration of ceasefire. The Taliban leadership has to declare ceasefire, which is reiterated by regional states and international community. In other words, escalation of war on the one hand and sitting around the peace table on the other hand are confusing and paradoxical. Declaration of ceasefire will prove the Taliban’s genuine intention and build trust between the negotiating sides.
A peaceful Afghanistan will be not only in the interests of Pakistan but also regional and global states. Afghanistan have urged and will welcome the constructive role played by any countries – be it in Asia, Europe or America. Afghanistan left no stone unturned to garner the support of the region and the globe, which has to respect the demands and preconditions of the Afghan state and nation.
The peace process has reached a very critical juncture and regional and global stakeholders have to engage actively and constructively in this process. If the talks reach deadlock, the security situation will worsen. In such a case, the instability of the region is much likely. With this in mind, all countries have to support the process and persuade the Taliban to declare ceasefire and reduce violence, which will be conductive to fruitful talks. But it should be noted that a hasty deal will not lead to sustainable peace and should not be pushed for.