Convergence of Peace, Not Conflict

Post-9/11, on account of the spillover effects of the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, a wave of terrorism reached Pakistan, which initially affected the tribal areas and later spread to the whole country, consequently affecting Pakistan’s state and society. It figured prominently on the security calculus and the country suffered enormously in terms of men and material due to terrorism and violent extremism, but that couldn’t affect the morale of the nation and Pakistan Armed Forces to eliminate terrorism from its soil. Although there existed no quick solution for this threat, Pakistan, as a resilient and responsible state, wasted no time to respond to the massive challenges and began operations to eradicate the threat of terrorism in order to bring stability. In the process, the local populace was temporarily displaced but they paid the price willingly, and the Armed Forces had their earnest support. 
Framed around winning the hearts and minds of the people, ‘clear, hold, build and transfer’ formed the counter-terrorism strategy. During this war, a number of major operations were carried out as a part of the ‘clear and hold’ phase to flush terrorists out and restore the writ of the state in those areas. The hard-earned successes and gains made during these operations were consolidated, and the process moved towards enduring peace and stability. Later, the focus shifted to ‘build and transfer’, which meant holding the hard-earned gains in the war against terrorism in order to enable civilian administration to take control of these areas. Simultaneously, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was launched to eliminate the remnants and sleeper cells of the terrorists to further consolidate the peace won through unparalleled sacrifices of the entire nation and the Armed Forces. After kinetic operations, socio-economic uplift was treated as a national priority. The successes achieved during these operations ensured that a conducive environment existed for merging the Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and brought into the national mainstream. 
Pakistan’s efforts for peace inside its own territory as well as Afghanistan were multi-dimensional. One such dimension was regulating the bonafide movement across the Pakistan-Afghanistan International Border and putting a stop to all sorts of illegal movement. In this also lay the practical answer to cross-border terrorism and related allegations. In 2017, Pakistan Army started implementing the most challenging task of fencing the entire border with Afghanistan. Along with that, additional military posts and forts were also constructed to guard against any breach of the border fence thus practically converting it into a “wall-fence for peace”. 
Such are Pakistan’s monumental successes and contributions for peace along the Pak-Afghan International Border.
Across the border, for durable peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan has always advocated and worked for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. For the last few years, Pakistan’s efforts and contributions for an Afghan national dialogue and consequent peace remained sincere and relentless. The whole world has recognized and appreciated these efforts. Now that the U.S. and NATO forces are withdrawing, everyone in Afghanistan and outside must not give way to the spoilers of peace but join hands for a durable, long-term and sustainable peace in the region. As stated by COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, while dilating upon the evolving strategic and regional environment in an address to the participants of National Security and War Course-21 on June 30, 2021, “Pakistan stands for peace within and all around, as it looks forward to acting as a bridge between regions.” Expounding on Pakistan’s support to the Afghan Peace Process, he said, “Spoilers of peace in Afghanistan risk regional instability.”
As evident from Afghanistan’s situation, some foreign powers are converging to fan animosity among the Afghan groups. This will not serve anyone: neither the Afghans, spoilers, nor the region. Pakistan’s continuous efforts for conflict prevention in the region and relentless support to the Afghan Peace Process make it clear that no other country has greater stakes in lasting peace in Afghanistan than Pakistan. And that a peaceful, stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of the region and the world. 
These are the times to converge for peace in Afghanistan than for any other purpose.

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