Monday October 02, 2023

‘Public diplomacy necessary to engage Kabul’

May 19, 2023

Islamabad:Public diplomacy was need of the hour to engage with the Taliban government in Kabul in a manner that resonated with the local Afghans and was capable of reconstructing their ill-conceived presumptions about Pakistan’s support over the years.

This was agreed at a panel of experts in a roundtable discussion on “Afghanistan’s new era: assessing the role of regional powers and international organisations in shaping Afghanistan’s future hosted by Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) and Pak-Afghan Youth Forum (PAYF) here Thursday. Abrar Hussain, vice-chairperson, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), maintained that since Pakistan was the most preferred trade and transit partner of Afghanistan, the Government of Pakistan needed to facilitate Afghan traders in order to optimally benefit from this portal. Efforts also needed to be directed at public diplomacy with the people of Afghanistan, he added.

Salman Javed, DG, PAYF, said that there was a dire need to understand the contextual nuances of Afghanistan in order to effectively engage with relevant local stakeholders for any potential partnerships. He added that Pakistan had made some serious efforts, especially in the domains of education and trade, however, those efforts were not much projected and still remain unnoticed at either side of the border. Sajid Iqbal Khattak from National University of Modern Languages (NUML), observed that since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan after its two decade-long misadventure, sustainability of the current government was a major issue. Despite the fact that most regional countries had not officially recognized the present government in Afghanistan, their actions and active engagement with the Taliban was not in fact in sync with the projected stance of non-recognition, he added.

Dr Farah Naz from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), was of the opinion that despite expanding trade opportunities and economic activity in the once war-torn countries, it was imperative to determine if the US despite having withdrawn from the region, would allow the said to prevail.