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June 3, 2021

Inclusive intra-Afghan accord before US pull-out advocated for peace

Islamabad : An inclusive Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace accord is the only solution to the local and regional issues. The war-torn country, which is already on the brink of a civil war, will continue to see violence if the US leaves Afghans on their own as it did before without ensuring an intra-Afghan agreement.

This was the crux of an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) webinar on ‘US withdrawal from Afghanistan: Threats to regional peace, within and without'.

The event had IPS vice-chairman and Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Abrar Hussain in the chair and IPS senior associate and geostrategic analyst Brigadier (r) Said Nazir as the keynote speaker.

The key panellists included IPS Chairman Khalid Rahman, author and Afghan affairs expert Jumma Khan Sufi and senior journalist and analyst Hasan Khan.

Said Nazir said as the date of US withdrawal was coming closer, violence in Afghanistan was increasing – underlining the intense power struggle that was going on between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul.

He said Washington, after the pull-out, would act as a mere distant spectator of the mess it would leave behind in Afghanistan.

On the much-debated air and ground logistical support to the US by Pakistan, the analyst feared that if such action was taken, it would be detrimental to peace and stability in the region and Pakistan as it would have direct consequences for the countries that will provide assistance to the US in this regard.

"As the Afghan Taliban have also cautioned regional countries against such a move, this will further intensify the armed conflict, resulting in the influx of Afghan refugees," he warned.

Brigadier (r) Said Nazir said providing facilities of bases to the US in Pakistan won't serve national interests and rather, it would allow anti-state elements, including Daesh and TTP, which were gaining ground along the Pak-Afghan border inside Afghanistan, to label Pakistan a US proxy.

He urged regional countries, especially Pakistan, and internal power contenders to mitigate any chances of a civil war.

"Pakistan needs to beef up its efforts and precautionary measures for lasting regional peace in the presence of spoilers, especially India, which will try to add fuel to the ongoing fight," he said.

Expert Jumma Khan Sufi opined said the British government was trying to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer in a bid to resolve the issues prevailing between the two neighbours for a long time.

He revealed that the UK facilitated the recent meeting between the Pakistan Army chief and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"Pakistan needs to press the regional power brokers to ensure Afghanistan recognises the existing Pak-Afghan border for a long-term settlement," he said.

Talking about his recent visit to Afghanistan, journalist Hasan Khan said the Afghan people generally like Pakistan and didn't despise it as was often depicted in media, especially social media.

He, however, said the Afghans were not happy with either the Afghan Taliban or the Kabul government and thought that the US had betrayed Afghanistan once again by leaving the country in a mess, which the US had created itself.

On the existing situation across the border, IPS chairman Khalid Rahman warned the world about growing violence in Afghanistan amid the US withdrawal.

He believed that the circumstances inside Afghanistan do not augur well for peace and rather offer a perfect recipe for a civil war.

"All stakeholders, especially internal power players, should reach a negotiated agreement before the US troops leave the Afghan soil for good," he said.

Concluding the session, Abrar Hussain regretted the blame game played by the Afghan government against Pakistan and said the regional countries didn't want the Afghan Taliban to rule Afghanistan alone fearing militancy and violence in the region.

He called for an intra-Afghan dialogue before the US departure to ensure sustainable peace in both the mountainous landlocked country and region.