Home South Asia Afghanistan Pakistan seeks political solution to Afghan conflict: Khawaja Asif

Pakistan seeks political solution to Afghan conflict: Khawaja Asif

Khawaja Asif
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News Analysis |

A renewed effort to establish peace in the war-torn nation of Afghanistan is taking shape. A two day peace conference began in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan on Monday, March the 26th. Delegates from around the world began arriving in Uzbekistan on Sunday. The Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan was titled “Peace process, security cooperation and regional collaboration”.

The Foreign Minister of Pakistan was also present on the occasion and expressed Pakistan’s willingness to help in an Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process. Addressing the conference, Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan had consistently been stressing for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan through a political settlement, putting emphasis on the need of a regional approach for stability and peace. He also showed concern about proliferation of the network of Daesh and narcotics in Afghanistan and the wider region, emphasizing the need for collaboration between Afghanistan and its neighbors. He also reiterated Pakistan’s support for the peace offer made by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to the Taliban.

A security conference was organized last fall in Samarkand as well but it also failed to produce any meaningful result. Despite these peace efforts, the war has raged on for nearly two decades now.

On the 28th of February, Ghani had offered ‘unconditional talks’ to the Taliban, who are yet to respond to the offer. At the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation last month, he called on the Taliban to accept peace and also declared that Taliban should be considered a political group. The Afghan Taliban are sanctioned as terrorists by the United Nations. Various leaders are included in the ‘Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List’. Removal from this list has been a long standing demand made by the Taliban. President Ghani’s offer for peace talks without pre-conditions to be held anywhere is unprecedented. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan expressed Pakistan’s support for the peace offer by the Afghan president.

The war in Afghanistan began in October 2001 when the US invaded the country after September 9/11, holding the Taliban responsible for Al-Qaeda which perpetrated the attacks. The Taliban regime was ousted within months and Washington declared victory. However, the Taliban launched an insurgency soon afterwards. This insurgency has proven to be largely successful. After 17 long years of fighting, the Taliban control as much territory in Afghanistan as they did before 9/11.

Read more: ‘Internal Security’ being provided by Pakistani troops in KSA: Khawaja Asif

Training of the Afghan Security forces by the US has resulted in little progress. The Afghan Army is facing all sorts of problems. A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction showed that the US has wasted about $70 billion in training Afghan security forces, who are suffering high casualty rates. And the war doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of stopping. The US approach of using force is not working. Pakistan has always supported a peace process based on dialogue. That is why peace efforts like the one in Tashkent are important.

Representatives of over 25 countries and international organizations have attended the Conference. Most significantly, the heads of the ministries of foreign affairs of India, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UK, the US and the EU’s foreign policy chiefs are in attendance. The UN special representative to the UN mission in Afghanistan was also there and made a statement to the participants in Tashkent. “[The] dominant discussion about Afghanistan is how to achieve a lasting peace,” he said. “We urge the Taliban to muster their courage, and respond positively to this offer [made by Ashraf Ghani],” he further added.

Addressing the conference, Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan had consistently been stressing for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan through a political settlement, putting emphasis on the need of a regional approach for stability and peace.

The conflict in Afghanistan affects countries throughout the region. Pakistan is the most affected. Millions of refugees, weapons and drugs have flown into the country due to the war in Afghanistan. Iran, China and the Central Asian Republics also have stakes in lasting peace in the war torn nation. Moscow, too, has interests in making sure stability is achieved in the landlocked nation. The increasing presence of ISIS in Afghanistan is a concern for Russia and there is a risk of spillover into Russian territory due to instability in the region. The recent Tashkent Conference had Moscow’s backing as well.

Both Pakistan and Russia have improved their relationship with each other over the past few years. At part of the reason is that the US has put sanctions on both, albeit of different kinds. Islamabad and Moscow can derive mutual benefits from having strong economic and security ties. A joint counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism military exercise held in Pakistan in 2017 may be a sign of things to come. A $2 billion gas pipeline is also being established in Pakistan, thanks to investment by Moscow. Pakistan and Russia, along with China, have also held talks to discuss the Afghanistan situation.

Read more: Khawaja Asif talks about Indian hand behind the attack on APS…

There have been several efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (Q4) consisted of Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China. There have been talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan in Doha. Trilateral dialogues between India, Afghanistan and the United States have also taken place but to no avail. A security conference was organized last fall in Samarkand as well but it also failed to produce any meaningful result.

Despite these peace efforts, the war has raged on for nearly two decades now. It might not be possible to resolve the situation in its entirety in the Tashkent conference. This concern was expressed by the UN Special Representative to Afghanistan when he said, “The agenda for peace in Afghanistan has never been as clear as it is now. {But] there is still much work to be done.” But it is a step in the right direction.

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  1. After the end of FIRST Afghan War led by the communist Soviet Union, the SECOND Afghan War started in October 2001… this time with US forces as the Invaders. This devastating war was waged as a revenge of 9/11 holding Taliban in collaboration with Al-Qaeda as responsible for the twin towers attack. Soon after the horrendous attack using latest sophisticated lethal weaponry including Daisy Gutter bombs which were aimed at the mountains from an altitude of 35000 feet. These bombs practically turned the mountains into rubble giving no chance of survival to the people hiding under these mountains. However, when the invading forces declared victory saying that the Taliban had been wiped out, the Taliban then re-emerged putting up fierce insurgency signifying that they had withdrawn from the war front as a tactical move as per the events that unfolded later on.
    In fact, the Americans failed to pay any heed to the learned advice of their fast friends United Kingdom (England) for not getting involved in the war on Afghan soil as it was quite difficult to win from the born fighters. Perhaps the planners thought that their modern weapons could play a decisive role in wiping out the enemy.
    Pakistan has very rightly been emphasizing upon the need for a political settlement of the issue by holding a meaningful dialogue between the concerned parties to the issue. In the recent Peace Conference held in Tashkent on ” Peace Process, Security Cooperation & Regional Collaboration”, the Pakistan Foreign Minister has very vocally and rightly expressed Pakistan’s willingness to help achieving Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process. Having a glance of the overall situation in Afghanistan from historical perspective, brotherly ties between the Pushtoons and other races residing on either side of the Durand Line and religious bondage that existed between the two people having also served as a host to millions of Afghan Refugees since Soviet invasion, Pakistan is better placed to make peace endeavors for securing a lasting peace but thanks to the Indian lobby gathered at the White House guiding the American Policy on Afghan issue and tackling otherwise with Pakistan, the peace will remain a dreadful dream.
    Earlier in February-2018, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan had offered “Unconditional Talks to Taliban”. The offer and the wish is good but what are the ground realities in Afghanistan. It is now almost 17 years that the U.S. started the Afghan War and the rivals fighting this useless war cannot claim a victory over each other. The Talibans are in hold of the same territory as they used to command before 9/11. Despite spending a lot on training of Afghan soldiers by the US army, the result is dismal. Had the Americans given that much amount to Pakistan Army and entrusted the task of training the Afghan Forces, at least 8 to 10 divisions of Afghan forces would have been raised with noticeable capacity and capability to fight in the specific environments. Peace is still a remote possibility in Afghanistan and the US trained Afghan forces are constantly receiving high causality rates. Weapons and Drugs business is reportedly flourishing and the US policy of Use of Force is proving counter productive. The circumstances clearly are signalling a devastating scenario for the US as well as many regional states who are feeling alarmed at the increasing presence of Daesh and other insurgency groups in Afghanistan. It is being said that its personnel are being regrouped in Afghanistan after completion of bloody mission in Syria who will now fight with Afghan Talibans and also create security issues in Pakistan. It is not hard to grasp as to who is planning the game on Afghan soil and giving false hopes to our American friends for making a stronghold again in Afghanistan and tackling Pakistan through intimidation and coercion punishing it with China Friendly Policy. This portends serious ramifications for Russia and other Central Asian States besides Pakistan. It can be visualized becoming of Afghanistan another experimental base where bombings will be carried out by many states just like Syria.
    It is time to take cognizance of the situation and take practical measures for restoring peace in the war torn volatile region called Afghanistan.


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