20 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 24, 1435

Afghan reconciliation

Published Jul 19, 2012 12:10am

ACCORDING to the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Afghan reconciliation — and Pakistan’s support for it — will be the most important item on the agenda for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s visit to Kabul today. This follows earlier statements from President Hamid Karzai asking for Islamabad’s help for talks with the Taliban. But the reality of what Pakistan can do lies somewhere between international perceptions that it could make major contributions to peace in Afghanistan if only it wanted to and the very limited, logistical role Islamabad played in facilitating the Taliban’s passage to Qatar for talks with the Americans.

It’s true that some Taliban leaders, their families and livelihoods are in Pakistan, and that security agencies have contacts with them. Other operatives are in Pakistani jails and have not been handed over despite Kabul’s requests. Pakistan is also holding itself back because of paranoia about its interests in the region and the lack of a clear centre of power when it comes to devising foreign policy. But there are also some real constraints on its ability to facilitate talks: its control over the Taliban is not as extensive as is portrayed by the Americans and the Afghans; the Taliban have repeatedly claimed they will not talk to the Karzai government; the US government’s election-year calculations and internal disagreements make it difficult for Washington to maintain a successful peace process with the Taliban; and the Taliban themselves are fragmented over whether and with whom talks should take place.

In this complex scenario, one thing Pakistan can do is begin to match its claims and demands with what it can actually deliver. If it wants a seat at the table and have the international community address its concerns about Afghanistan’s future, it will have to deliver more than just logistical support. It will need to demonstrate at least a genuine effort to try to persuade the Taliban it does have contacts with to talk to the Afghan government and the US, and turning over prisoners could be a first step. The Taliban have recently sent public signals that they might be ready to talk to the Americans again, and have even sent an envoy to the Kyoto conference attended by Afghan government officials. So there may be an opportunity now for Pakistan to get involved in shaping the region’s future and counter the international perception that it is an impediment to peace. It doesn’t have the degree of power projected by the West and Afghanistan, and there are limits to what it can do. But that is no excuse not to do whatever it can.


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Comments (10) (Closed)


M. Asghar
Jul 19, 2012 10:48am
The Editorial pins down well the need of clarifiction as to what Pakiistan can do for peace in Afghanistan. However, in this effort, all of Afghanistan's direct neighbours: Iran, China, have to be involved along with Pakistan
Nathan
Jul 19, 2012 10:25am
Pakistan projects itself as a the broker for Afghan Taliban. It protects the Haqani network, which plans its power projection from Pakistan's soil. It shields the leaders of Afghan Taliban. It protected Osama for many years. The Mumbai terror plot was organized in Pakistan. To me, Pakistan's actions speak louder than its pleas that it has no influence with Taliban or terror. The reality is that sources in Pakistan are the prime movers of the violence in Afghanistan (and sadly in Pakistan's own soil) and this is not a mistaken international perception. The sad truth is that Pakistan is willing to squander its international goodwill in the altar of its commitment to protect its misconceived self-interest. Self-interest can never be promoted by hobnobbing with terror. And, let me add, Pakistan's self-interest can never be advanced by its delusional enmity to the land that gave its birth.
Indian
Jul 19, 2012 03:04am
Wait till the Republicans get the White House then things will sort out themselves.
ahmed41
Jul 19, 2012 03:34am
If no one has any real control on the Taliban , how will reconciliation ever work ? When President Najibullah was pleading for 3 years, after the USSR withdrawal, for a genuine conciliation , all the *POWERS* conveniently ignored him . To have an * ASHTI-E MILLI* type of regional reconciliation , all parties must show their cards with transparency . Hidden agendas and diplomatic treachery will not help the region .
Iftikhar Husain
Jul 19, 2012 11:33am
This is a nice editorial the only thing Pakistan has to worry is the planning for the withdrawl of the forign troop from Afghanistan. The strategy must be woeked out now.
wanderer
Jul 19, 2012 07:46am
An excellent preview, i support the editorial point of view that " Pakistan must match its claims and demands with what it can actually deliver". Despite the fact that US election are going to play important role but still Pakistan should decide clear cut path for its own good and for future. Haqqanis are going to be a major factor in the outcome of the end game. The US senate is about to brand them as terrorist organisation, it will affect are present strategy a lot. Sombre times coming !!!!!!!
JZY
Jul 19, 2012 07:51am
Indeed
aamir
Jul 19, 2012 08:00am
I don't think they will win. Afghanistan Pullout has been finalized with NATO. France is withdrawing this year. Even Republicans will find it difficult to change it.
aamir
Jul 19, 2012 08:00am
A good analysis. Dawn is a professional news paper.
Haseeb Syed
Jul 19, 2012 06:44pm
I think all efforts are useless for its own interest.if afghanies do well in their,they ll get their destination.