ISLAMABAD, Dec 6: As the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan approaches, there is an air of uncertainty about the post-2014 situation in that country.
While some of the participants of a public panel discussion here said Taliban were a stakeholder in Afghan peace and should be included in any future dialogue process, others said peace through talks was possible but not with the Taliban who have been killing even their own people.
The discussion ‘Is a political solution with the Taliban possible’ was organised by Heinrich Boll Stiftung at a local hotel on the occasion of Pakistan-Germany-Afghanistan media dialogue 2013.
Most of the speakers said Afghanistan should be allowed to decide its future without any interference from outside, especially Pakistan.
They also said media should remove the misunderstanding between the two countries and explore the cultural, historical and religious affinities for a durable peace in the region.
Speaking on the occasion, Humayun Shah Asefi, who was a vice-presidential candidate in the 2009 Afghan election, said people of his country had suffered wars for over 40 years and now they wanted peace.
He said only political dialogue could bring peace to the country.
In reply to a question, he said a government friendly to Pakistan was possible but if Pakistan wants an ‘obedient’ government in Kabul it would be a wishful thinking.
He said the establishment of a new government in Pakistan had created some signs of hope for peace in his country.
Senator Afrasyab Khan Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) said compared to the early 1990 when the Soviet forces left Afghanistan, world powers were now actively engaged in the reconstruction of the country with China, India and Turkey being the new players.
He said Afghanistan had also gone through political experiences, including holding of elections, and its education had expanded.
The educated youth is also using the social media and is more aware of the country’s issues.
Another major difference in today’s Afghanistan is that unlike ideological polarisation in the 1980s, such as Islam versus communism, there was now more space for reconciliation.
Mr Khattak, however, said a number of serious issues still posed threat to stabilisation in Afghanistan.
He said both the governments in Kabul and Islamabad needed trust building measures, adding majority of the people of Afghanistan still believed that Pakistan was supporting the Taliban.
PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz spoke on the wider geo-strategic factors that he said would determine peace in Afghanistan, not the Taliban, religious bigotry or the so-called strategic depth mantra.
He said the western powers were still holding their vision for the future Afghanistan close to their chest.
Unless they come out openly with their vision, Pakistan should not be expected to do more and adopt a hands-off policy, he added.
Pakistan Ulema Council chairman Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi said any dialogue for a political solution to Afghan issue would be futile without the participation of the Taliban who had a strong support in the country.
He claimed that it was because of the grass-root support enjoyed by Taliban led by Mullah Omer that the western powers wanted to engage them in the dialogues.
Faisal Sabzwari of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also spoke on the occasion.
The discussion was moderated by senior journalist Imtiaz Gul.