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December 10, 2018

Trump’s letter seeking Pakistan’s support for talks with Afghan Taliban termed a serious effort

Karachi

December 10, 2018

Defence analyst Zahid Hussain believes that the US President Donald Trump’s recent letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking his administration’s help in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban is a serious effort because the condition in Afghanistan is the all-time worst as this December US completes 17 consecutive years of war there.

Speaking at a session ‘Afghanistan: Elusive Peace, Pervading Neighbours’ at the ThinkFest held at the IBA, he said that Afghanistan had been in the midst of war for the past 40 years and, due to changing geo-political dimensions, it had become a centre for another “great game”.

Lauding the US decision of talks, Hussain added that this alone would not suffice to ensure peace. “Besides Taliban, there are others problems, too, both internal and external.”

Pakistan’s former ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi explained the want of influence of neighbours in Afghanistan, starting from the war between the Mughal and Safavid empires. He said that on the one hand the country had a history of internal conflicts among tribes and on the other the intrusion from external factors.

Seconding Hussain, he commented, “Trump seems seriously interested in peace talks to pull out US forces from Afghanistan because if he is able to do so then he will have a credit -- that neither Bush nor Obama had -- for his reelection as the president, although the US general may not be as interested as him for they have a long war with China.”

He said that China was emerging as a global power in all aspects and quoting some research journals said that by 2050 it was deemed to be the largest economy in the world, four times more than that of the US.

“After climate change, the world faces the danger of a nuclear war between the US and China. That’s why the US has wanted a pro-West government in Afghanistan.” Sargodha University professor Ishtiaq Ahmed said that in the talks the US wanted to convince the Taliban from overrunning the government once the foreign forces left and the overall security went into the hands of the local forces.

Pointing to war-lordism as a danger post-pullout, he said that the situation was complex as the Taliban were in a stronger position than they were eight years ago. Though all these panelists were in favour of a peaceful Afghanistan for peace in region, they were wary of the difficulties that would be down the way to reach that goal.

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