Stressing inclusive Afghan govt., Pakistan says while war has ended, peace remains to be won

Stressing inclusive Afghan govt., Pakistan says while war has ended, peace remains to be won

WASHINGTON, Sep 02 (APP):A negotiated, inclusive settlement between the Taliban and the other Afghan factions is the “only plausible pathway” to peace in Afghanistan, and Pakistan continues to support all efforts towards that end, Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan has said.

“Any government imposed by force would be internally unstable and externally destabilizing,” the Pakistani envoy wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, as talks between the Taliban and other Afghan parties for a negotiated settlement continue.

“While the war in Afghanistan may be over, the peace is yet to be won,” Ambassador Khan remarked.

Noting that the situation in Afghanistan remains tenuous, he wrote that the hopeful sign was that the war-torn country is largely calm, and the specter of a protracted civil war has receded for now.

“Cities like Kabul and Jalalabad have been spared a repeat of the brutal, street-to-street fighting that reduced them to rubble in the 1990s,” the Pakistani envoy said, adding that there was no panicked rush of Afghan refugees at borders.

“Critically,” he said, “the Taliban have shown some receptivity to the international community’s concerns about human rights, women’s education, and the importance of sharing power.

“We hope their actions match their words.”
In this regard, Ambassador Khan noted that Pakistan and the U.S. retain the same interests in Afghanistan — the formation of an inclusive government that reflects Afghanistan’s ethnic and sectarian diversity and preserves the country’s gains in advancing human rights and women’s access to education, and not become a sanctuary for terrorist groups ever again.

“After Afghanistan itself, no country has a greater stake in its peace and stability than Pakistan,” he said, pointing out it is already hosting over 3 million Afghan refugees and the blowback from the 40-year-long conflict has taken 80,000 Pakistani lives and caused economic losses of at least $150 billion.

“We cannot sustain a fresh influx of Afghan refugees that more instability in our western neighbour would trigger. More importantly, we are worried that an unstable Afghanistan would offer a more permissive environment to terrorist groups – ranging from Al Qaeda and ISIS-K to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Baloch insurgents – that Pakistan had pushed out in some of recent history’s most successful counter-terrorism operations,” he wrote.

Ever since President Joe Biden announced his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in April, Ambassador Khan said Pakistan had been calling for more vigorous international diplomacy in support of an inclusive peace agreement in Afghanistan, pointing out that Pakistan joined the United States, Russia, and China to explicitly oppose any effort to impose a government by force in Afghanistan.

Earlier, he said, “In vain, we urged the Taliban and the Ghani government to reduce violence and show flexibility,” noting that while the Taliban made gains on the ground, the erstwhile Afghan government was busy inciting hatred against Pakistan on social media. In the end, he said President Ashraf Ghani and his cohorts simply deserted the Afghan people.

“As both Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Joe Biden have pointed out, continuing the war would not have changed the outcome – the speed of the Ghani regime’s collapse is proof of that.”

Meanwhile, the ambassador said Pakistan provided critical support for the now-completed multinational evacuation effort from Kabul airport, and the Pakistani embassy in Kabul is still functioning. “Our doors and borders are open for Afghan people, who still look to Pakistan as their first shelter in moments of distress,” he said, adding Islamabad will continue to facilitate Americans, Afghans, and other foreigners wanting to leave Afghanistan.

“We are convinced that investing in an inclusive government in Afghanistan remains the international community’s best counter-terrorism investment. Pakistan will play its part as a responsible partner for peace and security in Afghanistan,” the Pakistani envoy added.

APP Services