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June 19, 2021

Nato report

 
June 19, 2021

As the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in September this year is coming closer, the recently released report of the Nato Defence College in Rome is a stark reminder to the world that Pakistan has been trying to push the Taliban to make concessions for a political deal. It appears that India and perhaps some other outside players are against an interim government in Afghanistan. The report is enlightening in the sense that it clarifies several issues related to Afghanistan that may emerge after the US pullout from Afghanistan. The country has remained war-torn for over 40 years and now not only Nato and the US but most regional countries too want to see some restoration of peace; and for that a power-sharing deal will have a significant impact. Pakistan has been throughout stressing upon the need for all conflicts to end so that a political process can get the ball rolling.

This process depends upon the Taliban agreeing to abandon their stubbornness to obtain complete control over the Kabul government. The perception that Pakistan wants a Taliban takeover has a lot to do with how India is projecting its own interests in the region. Now it should be clear to most stakeholders including India and Pakistan that a full Taliban takeover is not in the interest of any country in this region and the world community will also not take to it. The Taliban may have a significant role in any future dispensation in Afghanistan, but that role should ideally not be as sole rulers of the country. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will have to hand over power to an interim leader who could be acceptable to the Taliban and the erstwhile Northern Alliance forces.

The Northern Alliance forces are mostly non-Pashtun and consist of ethnic groups such as Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbeks which form nearly half of the Afghan population. An inclusive interim government is the only viable solution and even countries such as China and Russia will support this option. Only India appears to be the odd-man out that is comfortably using Afghan land against Pakistan. There were some recent reports that the Taliban were cozying up to India, but India sticks to its refusal to talk publically to the Taliban. India also does not like its marginalization from the Afghan peace process and even Moscow did not invite India to participate in talks held in the Russian capital a couple of months ago. In this emerging scenario, the Nato report is a welcome development since it confirms what Pakistan has been asserting all along.