Home South Asia Afghanistan Lahore Process: Pakistan’s Efforts for an Inclusive Intra-Afghan Dialogue

Lahore Process: Pakistan’s Efforts for an Inclusive Intra-Afghan Dialogue

Pakistan organized an intra-Afghan dialogue, titled as the Lahore Process, as part of its efforts to facilitate an inclusive Afghan dialogue by allowing all stakeholders a platform to address their differences. Islamabad has clarified that it has no favorites amongst Afghan players and is supportive of Afghan sovereignty, stability and peace.

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News Desk |

The “Lahore Process”, an intra-Afghan summit organized by Islamabad at Bhurban, Murree over the weekend, succeeded in clarifying Pakistan’s stance: Islamabad has no favorites in Afghan politics and is willing to cooperate with all Afghan players to achieve a conclusive peace arrangement regardless of their ethnic background.

The summit was attended by 57 Afghan delegates, including 18 influential Afghan players, with the likes of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Atta Noor Mohammad, Ismail Khan, former National Security Adviser and Presidential candidate Mohammad Hanif Atmar, and Fouzia Kofi amongst others.

Afghan senators criticized that the Lahore Process was not in favor of Afghanistan as it did not include a delegation from the Afghan government.

The Pakistani government collaborated with the Lahore Centre for Peace Research on its Track II initiative of facilitating an intra-Afghan dialogue. The day-long conference was also attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who urged all Afghan groups to settle their differences, and assured that Pakistan respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Afghanistan.

FM Qureshi stressed, “Pakistan’s security continues to be deeply influenced by the security situation in Afghanistan. Advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan is, therefore, in Pakistan’s own national interest.”

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Pakistan Facilitates Intra-Afghan Dialogue

The agenda behind the Lahore Process was to facilitate an intra-Afghan dialogue, and it was attended by many Afghan politicians who doubted Pakistan’s intentions in the reconciliation process.

Majority of the Afghan players in attendance had previously held Pakistan accountable for the Afghan situation at multiple forums, however, the conference and Foreign Minister Qureshi’s address succeeded in presenting Pakistan’s role in a positive light.

Atmar further added that Kabul and Islamabad must drop the “blame-game” which has not helped the two neighbors.

An unnamed official from the organizer’s team revealed to ET, “The whole idea behind the Lahore Process was to bring all Afghan groups on the (negotiations) table to decide the future of their country.”

Sources reveal that Pakistan will continue facilitating an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue with more conferences of this nature being planned for the future. The Taliban had not been invited to the Bhurban summit, but reports suggest that there is a possibility they will attend future conferences.

The Lahore Process conference was organized with the efforts of former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad, head of the Lahore Centre for Peace Research, who had worked behind the scenes to convince key Afghan players to join Pakistan’s efforts of an intra-Afghan dialogue.

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Sources reveal that former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was willing to attend the summit but the organizers were unable to fulfill certain demands on short-notice, hence, Karzai could not attend. However, he is expected to visit Islamabad in the near-future.

Pakistan has facilitated the intra-Afghan dialogue in hopes that the Taliban will be willing to engage with Kabul and other Afghan groups before or during the upcoming US-Taliban talks in Doha, scheduled for July.

Advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan is, therefore, in Pakistan’s own national interest.”

Pakistan is dedicated in its efforts to facilitate an inclusive Afghan peace process, and wants to avoid yet another vicious cycle of civil war. The upcoming visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is also a part of Pakistan’s agenda of facilitating an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue.

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“Pakistan is Important to Afghan Peace”

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency in Bhurban, Murree, former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, praised Pakistan’s efforts in the ongoing Afghan reconciliation process. Hekmatyar said, “Pakistan is a very important country and Islamabad could play a key role in bringing peace in Afghanistan and now they are doing it.”

He added, “I praised Pakistan’s sincere efforts and I am sure they will continue its help to bring peace in our country.”

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar stated that even Washington is praising Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating an intra-Afghan dialogue and urging Taliban to negotiate. The two-time Afghan Prime Minister said, “We welcome every country and individual who is taking any step for peace in Afghanistan. War always ends with peace and now war in our country will also end with peace.”

Pakistan is dedicated in its efforts to facilitate an inclusive Afghan peace process, and wants to avoid yet another vicious cycle of civil war.

Hekmatyar echoed Taliban’s demand of foreign troop withdrawal and reinstated that the Afghan people must be allowed to decide their own future through a transparent, free and fair election. The Lahore Process garnered ample attention from Kabul, and while many endorsed and praised Pakistan’s efforts, some Afghan senators criticized the absence of the Ghani-led government, reported Tolo News.

Speaking to the Afghan press on Saturday, Presidential Candidate Hanif Atmar welcomed the Lahore Process and regarded it as a good platform for an intra-Afghan dialogue. Atmar said, “We stressed that there should be progress in both fronts: in the peace efforts and the bilateral relations.”

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Atmar further added that Kabul and Islamabad must drop the “blame-game” which has not helped the two neighbors. Afghan senators criticized that the Lahore Process was not in favor of Afghanistan as it did not include a delegation from the Afghan government.

Baz Mohammad Zurmati, member of the Afghan Senate, said, “This meeting is an act of oppression against the government because the key to peace either lies in the government or the Taliban.”

Pakistan has No Favorites

Jan Achakzai, Geo-strategist and Chairman of Centre for Geo-Politics and Balochistan, observed that the Lahore Process has allowed Pakistan to establish that it has no favorites amongst Afghan politicians.

Hekmatyar echoed Taliban’s demand of foreign troop withdrawal and reinstated that the Afghan people must be allowed to decide their own future through a transparent.

Achakzai noted, “Named as the “Lahore Process”, intra-Afghan Conference in Murree is significant in the context of Pakistan being accused of promoting Taliban at the expense of other Afghan players.

Pakistan invited majors stakeholders (only Karzai & Dostum refused to attend) to signal that we have no favourites.”

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Achakzai added, “Anyway, as far Pakistan is concerned, Karzai is too Indianised and may have no place in future set up. It is also a signal to the US that Pakistan is willing to extend cooperation beyond the Taliban and showcase its credentials among other Afghans.”

In a series of tweets from his Twitter handle, Achakzai observed, “It’s (Lahore Process) contrary to propaganda that Afghans hate Pakistan.”

Outlining the agenda of the Lahore Process, Achakzai noted, “It is also meant to take ideas of other Afghans and share with the Taliban so that any possible convergence is found.”

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Jan Achakzai added that the Moscow Process and the upcoming German Process, to be announced by Washington soon, will also obtain input from the Bhurban Conference.

Jan Achakzai further noted, “By all means it was a success for Pakistan to pull off this conference. Despite intra-Afghan differences, many Afghan stake holders want to get on one platform to position themselves for post-US polity in Afghanistan.”

The Baloch Geo-strategist observed that after Qatar and Russia, Pakistan has added more weight to leverage momentum for the Afghan peace efforts. He noted, “We are about to see an interesting phase as the US is tipped to announce a major breakthrough soon.”

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However, Achakzai lamented, “The world, particularly the US, still shy away from recognizing Pakistan’s help in wrapping a messy US theatre.”

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