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Lahore

February 22, 2015

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‘Pakistan, Afghanistan should review notions’

LAHORE
“Afghanistan and Pakistan should re-examine all preconceptions about each other and the bilateral relations, because the security of the two countries is inseparable,” believed the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai.
He proposed this during a session - ‘What Happens in Kabul, Stays In Kabul’ - on the second day of the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) with BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, political scientist and leading expert on Afghanistan and South Asia Barnett Rubin, writer Ahmed Rashid and former ambassador to Afghanistan Aziz A Khan.
Mosazai said although the past had seen separate, divergent and even conflicting narratives between the two countries, but they needed to come to an end as they were an agenda of the spoilers of peace. “In recent days, Pakistan and Afghanistan have found surprising number of points of convergence. Afghanistan today is not the Afghanistan of 2001 or even that of 2010,” the ambassador said. “It is a transformed country busy in implementing reforms to its education and electoral system,” he added.
“Afghanistan lost 80 children to terrorism in Yahya Khel while Pakistan was hit by the same monster in Peshawar. Both countries are now looking to rid themselves of it,” he said.
Mosazai said the Afghan government appreciated Pakistan’s efforts aimed at trying to facilitate dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban. Barnett Rubin, however, was of the view that although the recent progress made in Af-Pak relationship, especially in the context of dialogue with the Taliban, was heartening, the world should associate realistic expectations with the development.
He said international interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was increasing because of the possible economic incentive on the offer. China, he said, for instance had opened up as a policy change and was investing outside the country in infrastructure and, therefore, was more interested in the Afghan

affairs. Ahmed Rashid said the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban were generically different because the Afghan Taliban owned their country, whereas the Pakistani Taliban were against the very country and the nation they lived in. “This,” he said, “by no means is glorification of either type of Taliban.”
He was of the view that success of “these negotiations will have unprecedented effects on overall regional politics.”
He believed that “the very happening of these negotiations will deter the spirits of Pakistani Taliban and their success would demoralise them extremely.”
On the occasion, Aziz said Pakistan’s position regarding Taliban had shifted after the Peshawar massacre and “there is now zero tolerance for any clan, any creed and any form of Taliban or extremism in the country.”
However, his statement was questioned by a person in the audience as to why there has been no crackdown against certain banned outfits.
He said Mullah Umar still occupied a pivotal position and was a father figure for all Taliban factions, adding that “there is a high likelihood of him still being alive and enjoying top commanding position.”
He commented that China, of all the countries, did not shun the Taliban or dub them with absolute tags; therefore, China too could play a vital role in dialogue. He proposed that the Afghan government should use the opportunity as the means to understand and address the grievance of these groups, saying they were native Afghans and would also want to become a part of the mainstream.
Doucet moderated the session brilliantly asking the right questions and keeping the discussion on track. At the end of the session, she conducted an open poll through show of hands by the audience as to whether they think that the recent progress will translate into something substantial, to which the majority replied in yes.

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