اردو(Urdu) English(English) عربي(Arabic) پښتو(Pashto) سنڌي(Sindhi) বাংলা(Bengali) Türkçe(Turkish) Русский(Russian) हिन्दी(Hindi) 中国人(Chinese) Deutsch(German)
Sunday, July 21, 2024 21:46
Question of Palestine Eternal Wisdom: Iqbal Building Futures: Empowering Pakistan's Youth for Tomorrow Tourism: An Essential Element for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Connecting Youth to Global Opportunities Algorithms: The Silent Architects of Warfare Pakistani Youth: The Driving Force for National Progress Investing in Future Generations: Pakistan Army Lost Voices: The Systematic Marginalization of Indian Muslims Parallel Struggles: Examining the Palestinian and Kashmiri Quests for Self-determination Emergence of BJP as a Hindutva Force The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Transforming Pakistan Building Sustainable Cities: Urban Search and Rescue Preparedness Simulation Exercise In the Pursuit of Happiness: Understanding Hedonia, Eudemonia, and Naikan COAS’ U.S. Visit: Strengthening Ties and Fostering Collaboration A Biological Marvel of Human Heart Educational Empowerment: FC Balochistan (North) Initiates Literacy Program for Soldiers Digital Pakistan Journey: Pioneering Towards a Connected Future Driving Digital Transformation: Pakistan CJCSC Calls on His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussain During His Visit to Jordan COAS' Peshawar Visit Highlights Security, Socioeconomic Development and National Unity Unity in Diversity: COAS Joins Christmas Celebrations with Christian Community in Rawalpindi Chief of the Naval Staff Attends Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in Bangkok Strengthening Bonds and Elevating Collaboration: Combat Commander Turkish Air Force Calls on Chief of the Air Staff Closing Ceremony of Multinational Special Forces Exercise Fajar Al Sharq-V Strengthens Counterterrorism Collaboration Off the Beaten Track: Exploring Jiwani's Coastal Marvels and Heritage Special Investment Facilitation Council: A Game Changer for the Economy of Pakistan Rising Stars: Pakistan’s Youth Shines Bright in 2023 Indian Supreme Court’s Decision and the International Law Challenges to Justice: The Indian Supreme Court’s Fallacy in IIOJK Belt and Road Initiative: Strengthening Global Ties with Unhindered Trade and Connectivity The Media Matrix: Unraveling How Technology Shapes Our Perception Decoding Human Interaction: The Comprehensive Guide to Reading Body Language The Magic of Moscow On the Same Wavelength: Suno FM's Impact on Community Empowerment, Diversity, and Social Progress in Pakistan The Journey of SAIL: A Beacon of Hope for Autism in Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan National Youth Convention 2024: COAS Stresses Youth's Vital Role, Urges Unity, and National Strength Vice Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Calls on COAS COAS Attends Inauguration Ceremony of the Second Chapter of NASTP Silicon PAF's Induction and Operationalization Ceremony Showcases Technological Advancements and Operational Excellence COAS Witnesses Firing of Different Air Defense Weapon Systems During Exercise Al-Bayza-III, 2024 COAS Visits POF Wah, Highlights Importance of Indigenous Defense Industry Exercise Sea Guard-24: Strengthening Maritime Security Al-Noor Special Children School and College Celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2023 in Multan Garrison Exercise BARRACUDA-XII: Strengthening Global Cooperation for Maritime Safety and Environmental Protection Pakistan-Qatar Joint Aerial Exercise "Zilzal-II" Held in Qatar March 23, 1940: Charting the Course for Pakistan's Future Peshawar’s Namak Mandi: A Gemstone Heaven Genocide in Palestine Rising Cities, Shrinking Spaces: Tackling Overpopulation and Urbanization in Pakistan Impact of Pakistan Resolution Day on National Identity Building Leaders: Jinnah and Iqbal's Timeless Wisdom for Today's Youth National Parks–Natural Assets India's New Playbook for Extraterritorial Assassination of Opponents The Legacy of Khan Brothers in Pakistan Armed Forces (Part II) Beyond the Battlefield: AIMH’s Quest for Military History Preservation The Siege of 634 A.D. (Part II) SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part II) A New Dawn in Pakistan's Agriculture The Crowdsourcing Practices The Last Post: Eulogy of a Hero Securing Tomorrow’s Food: Sustainable Agriculture and Aquaculture in Pakistan The Saindak Copper-Gold Project: A Beacon of Pak-China Friendship and Prosperity Prime Minister of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and COAS Visit Muzaffarabad CJCSC Calls on Minister of Defense, KSA 7th International PATS Exercise-2024 Held at NCTC, Pabbi CNS Visits Coastal Belt of Sindh and Coastal Areas of Balochistan to Oversee the Conduct of Exercise Seaspark-2024 Keel Laying Ceremony of the Second HANGOR Class Submarine Held at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Chinese Ambassador Calls on Chief of the Air Staff Pakistan Navy Demonstrates Combat Readiness with Live Missile Firing Exercise in the North Arabian Sea PAF's Jf-17 Thunder Block-III Fighter Jet Participates in World Defense Air Show-2024 A Day of Celebration and Global Solidarity: Pakistan Day Parade 2024 Gaza: A Tragedy Beyond Words Better Late than Never... Escalating Tensions: India's Violations of the Indus Waters Treaty Preserving Pakistan Pakistan Day Parade-2024: A Celebration of National Unity and Strength Demolition of Muslim Properties in India: A Weapon of Choice and State Policy Sustainable Energy Transition: Strategies for Pakistan’s Shift towards Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency The Impact of Climate Change on Global Health: Building Resilient Health Systems SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part III) Emerging from the Depths: The Pakistan Army Dedicated to Promoting Tolerance and Diversity: Pakistan Army, in Collaboration with the University of Peshawar, Hosts a Successful Grand Peace Fair Pak-Saudi On Job Training 2024 CJCSC Addresses SCO Military Medical Seminar 2024 on Challenges in Military Medicines Loyalty, Honor, Duty: The Pivotal Role of Pakistan Armed Forces in Upholding Peace and Security From Darkness to Light–One Year On: Contemplating May 9, 2023 to May 9, 2024 Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors Global Perspectives on Content Regulation: Examining Network Enforcement Act and Disinformation Laws The Issue of Palestine: A Historical, Religious, and Humanitarian Perspective Modi’s Guarantee and Hindutva Incorporated Divide and Conquer: The Dangerous Surge of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric in Indian Politics India's Hybrid Warfare in Kashmir India: Where the Price of Protest is Death! Pakistani Peacekeepers and the International Peacekeeping Day Empowering Pakistan: Navigating the Path to Sustainable Energy Autarky Overpopulation: Navigating Challenges and Charting Solutions for Pakistan Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Friendship: Dawn of a New Era SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part IV) A Tale of Two Sultans: Brigadier Sultan Ahmed, SJ & Bar (Part II) In the Footsteps of Valor: A Journey through Peshawar Garrison Pakistan Military Academy Passing Out Parade-2024 CGS Turkish Armed Forces Calls on COAS Green Pakistan Initiative Conference Highlights National Commitment to Agricultural Innovation and Economic Growth Commander Turkish Land Forces Calls on COAS Minister of Foreign Affairs, KSA, Calls on COAS Assistant Minister of Defense, KSA, Calls on COAS PAF Academy Asghar Khan Hosts Prestigious Graduation Ceremony for Aviation Cadets Faculty and Students from Muzaffargarh Government Post Graduate College Visit Multan Garrison SIFC's First Year: Transforming Pakistan's Investment Landscape SIFC’s First Birthday SIFC Building an Investor SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part V) : Driving Growth in Industry, Tourism, and Privatization SIFC and Pakistan’s Economic Landscape: A Year in Review Chinas Transition from Industry 3.0 to 4.0 Social Media in Pakistan: Balancing Risks and Governance for National Security Indian Ambitious “Make in India” Approach for Defense Production: An Appraisal India s Bold Shift: Extraterritorial Killings and Regional Instability as the New Normal Charting a Path Towards Water Sustainability: Pakistan Comparative Analysis of IQ, EQ, SQ and AQ Harboring Opportunities: The Socioeconomic Benefits of Gwadar Port Development for Pakistan and the Region From Gridlock to Green Lanes: OLMRTS Drive Progress Evolution of Multan: A Journey Through the Past, Present, and Future Empowering Tomorrow Embracing Tradition: Welcoming the 17th Entry to Military College Sui Balochistan Champions of the Desert: Balochistan Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Girls Cadet College Turbat Hosts First Passing-out Parade Secretary General of Defense and National Armaments, Italy, Calls on CJCSC U.S. CENTCOM Commander Calls on COAS Chief of Defense Forces Australia Calls on COAS Turkish Foreign Minister Visits COAS COAS and CGS UK Army’s Address at 6th Pakistan-UK Regional Stabilization Conference GHQ Investiture Ceremony Held at General Headquarters COAS Extends Condolence to Iran Following Helicopter Crash That Claimed Top Officials CNS visits PLA (Navy) Headquarters China CNS Attends 19th Western Pacific Naval Symposium CNS Attends the Launching Ceremony of 1st HANGOR Class Submarine CAS Calls on General Secretary of MOD and Commander of Iraqi Air Force Commander Southern Command and 2 Corps Visits Khairpur Tamewali Pakistan-U.S. Navy Bilateral Exercise Inspired Union 2024 Pakistan Navy's Humanitarian Mission in Balochistan's Flood-ravaged Villages The Heat is On: How Pakistan is Battling the Dire Consequences of Climate Change Solid Waste Management in Pakistan: Promotion of Sustainable Circular Economy Revolutionizing Flood Risk Management in Pakistan: Harnessing the Power of River Indus Assumptions Vs. Realities: Demystifying Pakistan‘s Defense Budget Unresolved Turmoil, The Gaza Conflict and Israel‘s Strategic Quagmire Post Shangri-La Dialogue: Prospects for Regional Security and Stability Optimizing the Benefits of CPEC 2.0 Sagadat Nurmagambetov: An Example of Persistence, Courage, and Selfless Devotion to the Motherland From Digital Resistance to Pro-Palestinian Encampment SIFC: Catalyst for Foreign Investment Driving Pakistan‘s Economic Transformation Charting a Green Future: How SIFC is Leading Pakistan‘s Green Revolution Digital Terrorism: Implications for Pakistan‘s National Security and Policy Tich‘ Cowan – The Fighting Admiral Leepa Valley: Where Nature Meets Patriotism RUMANZA: Transforming Pakistan‘s Golfing Landscape with World-Class Excellence Inside Okara Garrison: Students Witness Pakistan Army‘s Training and Tradition Prime Minister Pays Tribute at Sepoy Haroon William‘s Funeral Service CJCSC Visits Turkiye Chief of Defense Forces Australia Calls on CJCSC COAS Visits the LOC in the Haji Pir Sector Chief of Royal Malaysian Navy Calls on CNS Royal Saudi Naval Forces Delegation Visits Pakistan CAS Visits Command and Staff College Quetta Commander Multan Corps Reviews Troops’ Watermanship Training in Okara Rescue at Sea: Pakistan Navy Saves 8 Iranian Fishermen Amid Vessel Fire
Advertisements

Ambassador Munir Akram

The writer has served in the Pakistan Foreign Service for over 40 years. He was Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York; Permanent Representative to the UN and WTO in Geneva; Additional Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to the European Economic Community in Belgium and Luxembourg. E-mail: [email protected]

Advertisements

Hilal English

The Afghan Peace Process Prospects and Pitfalls

July 2019

The eighth round of U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar may result in finalization of agreements on a Taliban pledge not to allow Afghan territory to be used as a staging ground for terrorism and a U.S. commitment to withdraw foreign forces from Afghanistan.
In May this year, the U.S. Special Envoy, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, pronounced that agreements were also needed on two other items: an intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive ceasefire and “nothing was agreed until everything was agreed”. But the Taliban remained adamant that they would not talk to the Kabul government which they consider a U.S. puppet. The talks were thus stalemated.
During his recent brief flyby visit to Kabul, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated a subtle yet important shift by announcing that the U.S. and the Taliban are very close to an agreement on counter-terrorism and troop withdrawal (without a specific timetable). He declared the “the hour of peace had come” and expressed the hope of reaching an Afghan peace settlement by September 1, 2019. The U.S., he said, “would not negotiate on behalf of the Afghans”. Secretary Pompeo did not repeat the “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” mantra.
The U.S. no doubt wants to announce a politically acceptable end to its Afghan War before the 2020 U.S. Presidential elections. Pompeo’s pronouncement was obviously designed to propel Kabul and the other fractious Afghan parties to find a path to enter into dialogue with the Taliban as soon as possible. This may accelerate the peace process.
However, despite Khalilzad’s diplomatic skills, there are a host of complex issues which will need to be addressed and resolved to achieve outcomes that are seen as a successful or at least politically acceptable end to America’s longest war.
Troop Withdrawal
Although Khalilzad has stated that agreements on troop withdrawals and counter-terrorism have been agreed in draft form with the Taliban, some issues that probably remain to be resolved are: one, the timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces (6 to 18 months have been mentioned); two, the number of troops that the U.S. would leave behind for counter-terrorism operations (5000?); three, whether troop withdrawals would commence only after an “internationally accepted settlement” has been reached, as Khalilzad has observed, or if withdrawals may commence before that (following a U.S.-Taliban agreement), as Pompeo’s recent announcements implied.
Counter-terrorism
The Taliban have reportedly agreed that after a settlement they will not allow Afghan territory to be used for export of terrorism. This is not a difficult commitment for the Taliban. They have already accepted a clear break with Al-Qaeda. They are also engaged in a bloody confrontation with Daesh/IS and its associates, which now include IMU, ETIM, TTP, HuA. The U.S. may want to expand the list of terrorist groups, for example, to include the pro-Kashmiri parties (LeT and JeM) and the pro-Iranian groups like Hezbollah and other Shia militias.
Reportedly, the Taliban have agreed that a counter-terrorism (CT) force could be stationed in Afghanistan if authorized by the post-settlement Afghan Government. Details of this agreement would have to include: the size of this CT force, its location (perhaps Bagram?), the rules of engagement and whether it would be composed entirely of U.S. troops, or U.S.-NATO contingents or a (UN endorsed) multinational force.
A continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan, post-settlement, even if for counter-terrorism, is bound to generate considerable regional skepticism. Would the presence be designed for counter-terrorism or for power projection? Pakistan and other regional states would need to assess whether the deployed CT capabilities pose a threat to their national security and what sort of assurances are needed to obviate such potential threats.
Intra-Afghan Dialogue
Despite U.S. and Western insistence, and requests from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other “friends”, the Taliban have firmly rejected talks with the National Unity Government. To circumvent this impasse and insert itself in the peace process, Moscow took the initiative to convene two informal meetings to which Afghans of all political stripes were invited. The Ghani government did not participate. The U.S. sponsored a broad-based informal group of Afghans to hold talks with the Taliban in Qatar; but the latter rejected the size and composition of that group. More recently, Pakistan invited Afghan opposition leaders for an informal dialogue in Bhurban – a conference titled Lahore Process. But the Taliban did not participate.
To enable the Afghans to negotiate a political settlement among themselves, it is essential to first agree on the modality of an intra-Afghan dialogue, the composition of the non-Taliban negotiators, and the timing and venue of the talks. The efforts made so far and the pressure applied by the U.S. set deadline (September 1) may enable an agreement to be reached on these process issues very soon.
The intra-Afghan dialogue, whenever it gets underway, will have to address a number of complex questions:
One, how should power be shared in a post-settlement Afghanistan? Would it be on a territorial basis? The Taliban currently hold half of the country and by the time an agreement is reached, they may hold more. Would a territorial power distribution be supplemented or supplanted by a distribution of executive power at the center and in the provinces? How and in what proportion should the ministries and other important posts be distributed? In this context, how relevant are the September 28 Presidential elections and the elections held recently to the Afghan Parliament (which were opposed by the Taliban)?
Two, after an intra-Afghan agreement, how would security be maintained in Afghanistan? Would the Taliban and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) remain responsible for security in their respective areas of control? Would they be eventually integrated, and if so, on what criteria/basis? Would other private and irregular militias and local forces be disbanded or integrated?
Three, given Afghanistan’s financial dependence, would the U.S. and the international community continue to provide financial and development assistance to a post-settlement Afghanistan? Would such assistance be provided to regions/areas controlled by the Taliban?
Four, who would accept or reject the continued U.S./international counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan: the intra-Afghan dialogue or a new government that would emerge from the political settlement?
Five, whether the present (U.S.-formulated) Afghan constitution should be replaced or amended? Would provisions relating to the protection of minorities and women be preserved?
Ceasefire
The U.S. favored a cessation of hostilities to accompany the talks with Taliban, citing the “positive” experience of last year’s Eid-ul-Fitr ceasefire. The Taliban rejected this. They obviously feel they have the military momentum and wish to press their advantage. They may also fear that if they accept a ceasefire now, they may lose the support of many of their commanders who believe they can win militarily and are opposed to negotiations. These commanders could defect to rival groups such as Daesh. According to press reports, in the opening round of the talks with the U.S. as a condition for accepting a ceasefire, the Taliban asked for international guarantees from Saudi Arabia and other “friends” which were not forthcoming.
For its part, the U.S. too has intensified its aerial attacks and offensive operations to “shape the political environment”, in the words of General Austin S. Miller, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
A comprehensive ceasefire may be agreed once the Taliban believe that they cannot make further quick military gains; or feel they can achieve their objective (of emerging as the dominant force in Afghanistan) through the negotiating process.
The Regional Dimension
Several regional powers, including Pakistan, have “equities” in Afghanistan. A sustainable settlement will need to accommodate their ethnic, religious or political “affiliates” and their concerns about the presence of Daesh/IS in Afghanistan close to their borders.
Iran could emerge as a wild card in the Afghan peace process. It has retained considerable influence with its traditional friends in Afghanistan (the Tajiks, Hazaras and other Shias) and acquired considerable influence with others, including the Taliban. These links with the Taliban have grown substantially in recent years, especially as Pakistan came under extreme pressure to “arrest, expel or compel” the Taliban. (Mullah Mansoor was coming from Iran when he was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Balochistan).
In the context of the current U.S.-Iran tensions, Tehran could attempt to disrupt the Afghan peace process and U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Russia and its Central Asian friends are also important players in Afghanistan. On the one hand, they have ethnic friends – the Uzbeks and Tajiks – who will be part of the intra-Afghan power equation. On the other, several terrorist groups from Central Asia – such as IMU and the Chechens – are now part of Daesh/IS, located in Afghanistan, and pose a threat to the entire Central Asian region.
Both Russia and Iran have openly accused the U.S. of supporting these IS-linked groups and expressed concern at their deployments close to their borders. Both have established relations with the Taliban to combat their common enemy – the IS.
Moscow has assumed an active role in promoting an intra-Afghan dialogue. It will seek to ensure its imprint on the Afghan peace process and its final outcome.
India entertains deep reservations about the U.S. decision to talk directly to the Taliban. It will be deeply affected by the outcome of the Afghan peace process but does not have a seat at the table. India’s former diplomats have asserted that the world should not set any store by the Taliban’s assurances not to allow terrorism from Afghan soil. And, they fear that U.S. withdrawal will leave Afghan government forces at the mercy of the Taliban. They did not mention that a settlement could also end India’s covert operations against Pakistan from Afghan territory. India would play the role of a spoiler in the Afghan peace process if it could do so without irking its U.S. ally. It may yet find ways of doing so.
In the Afghan peace process, China is the “elephant in the room”. In a post-settlement Afghanistan, China could make a major contribution to its economic and infrastructure development through investment, trade and integration of Afghanistan into the Belt and Road Initiative. The degree of Afghanistan’s reliance on China will depend on the extent of America’s continued political and financial commitment to a post-settlement Afghanistan. China’s support, in turn, will be dependent on the political composition and affiliations of the power structures that emerge in Afghanistan through the negotiating process.
Four years ago, China was brought into the peace process in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) mechanism. However, it has been excluded from a direct role in more recent efforts to initiate the Afghan peace process. China has developed substantive relations with both the Taliban and the Kabul government. (It recently hosted the Taliban again in Beijing.) China has attempted to promote dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban, and to ease Pakistan-Kabul tensions. It would be in Pakistan’s strategic interest to bring China into the Afghan negotiating process as soon as possible.
In any case, the main regional players will need to be brought into the negotiating process at some stage, even if it is merely to endorse a settlement evolved between the U.S., the Taliban and other Afghan parties. The QCG which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the U.S., is an available mechanism which could be enlarged to include Iran, Russia and the Central Asian states. India’s participation should remain a red line for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Role and Objectives
As has been oft stated, apart from the Afghans, Pakistan has the highest stakes in the restoration of peace and security in Afghanistan.
Pakistan needs a peace which can serve four essential objectives: one, end cross-border terrorism, particularly the attacks by the Indian-sponsored TTP and the BLA; two, ease U.S. hostility and economic and political pressure against Pakistan; three, facilitate the repatriation of Afghan refugees; and four, enable the execution of connectivity projects with Central Asia.
In August 2017, U.S. President Trump announced a new and coercive policy towards Pakistan. Threats were held out against Pakistan, the CSF reimbursements were blocked and economic pressure intensified, including through the FATF, to secure Pakistan’s cooperation on Afghanistan.
At first, the U.S. demanded direct action by Pakistan against the Taliban “safe havens” and leaders which would enable a U.S. military victory and Taliban capitulation. Subsequently, the U.S. accepted that the priority aim was a “political settlement” between the Taliban and the Kabul government. Pakistan was asked to “arrest, expel or compel” the Taliban to accept reconciliation with the Kabul government. Later, the U.S. agreed to also join in Kabul’s talks with the Taliban. Finally, faced with the threat of a possible unilateral withdrawal announcement by an unpredictable President, the U.S. requested Pakistan to facilitate its direct talks with credible Taliban representatives.
Pakistan responded positively to the final request and facilitated the direct U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar and once in UAE. Most importantly, reportedly at U.S.’ request, Pakistan released the imprisoned Mullah Baradar, the former deputy of the Taliban Founder, Mullah Omar, to lead the Taliban delegation in the Qatar talks.
Pakistan has remained involved indirectly in the U.S.-Taliban talks. It has also participated in the informal meetings among Afghans convened by Russia and the Central Asians. More recently, Pakistan hosted most of the Afghan “opposition” leaders in Bhurban, although the Taliban did not participate. These meetings were followed by President Ghani’s formal visit to Islamabad to advance bilateral cooperation as agreed under the so-called APAPPS process (i.e., the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity). Yet, despite these Pakistani gestures, Ghani seems skeptical about negotiating peace with the Taliban. Nor does he appear to have shed his suspicions about Pakistan’s sincerity in desiring a broad-based Afghan government. Certainly, given the U.S.-Taliban process, and the divisive upcoming presidential elections, Ghani’s future is uncertain.
For Pakistan too, facilitation of the U.S.-Taliban talks has not produced any tangible reciprocal concessions from Washington apart from the occasional pat on the back. The U.S. has taken no visible actions against the TTP and BLA safe havens in Afghanistan; offered no support on the monitoring and fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; made no offers on Afghan refugee repatriation; has not released the counter-terrorism equipment promised to Pakistan; and, has not resumed the reimbursement of the CSF money.
On the contrary, Washington has maintained economic pressure on Pakistan through the FATF and IMF. And the scope of U.S. demands has expanded to calls for action against the proscribed pro-Kashmiri groups (LeT and JeM) in order to appease its Indian ally.
Islamabad should remain vigilant. While concern has been widely voiced about Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan if the Taliban emerge as the dominant force, the U.S., under the guidance of Ambassador Khalilzad, is quite capable of co-opting the Taliban as its future partners in Afghanistan through generous offers of money and weapons. And once its goals of withdrawal and political transition in Afghanistan are achieved, there is every possibility that the U.S. will revert to a hostile stance towards Pakistan designed to achieve its South Asia strategy in which India is to play the part of the regional hegemon and Pakistan is to halt support to the Kashmiri freedom struggle and accept constraints on its nuclear and missile programs.
Thus, Pakistan is obliged to play a hard-nosed game in the Afghan peace process to ensure that its long-term strategic interests in Afghanistan and the region are not compromised. To this end, Islamabad must retain close ties and ample leverage over the Taliban and other Afghans.


The writer has served in the Pakistan Foreign Service for over 40 years. He was Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York; Permanent Representative to the UN and WTO in Geneva; Additional Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to the European Economic Community in Belgium and Luxembourg.
E-mail: [email protected]
 

Ambassador Munir Akram

The writer has served in the Pakistan Foreign Service for over 40 years. He was Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York; Permanent Representative to the UN and WTO in Geneva; Additional Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to the European Economic Community in Belgium and Luxembourg. E-mail: [email protected]

Advertisements