ISLAMABAD: The lack of clarity about the future of Afghanistan and government’s strategy on fighting terror is breading uncertainty in the country.

Jinnah Institute hosted a seminar ‘Transition 2014: conflict and regional futures’ where speakers discussed the various factors that were likely to affect regional stability in general and Pakistan in specific.

Sherry Rehman, the president of the Institute, said: “By no means is conflict in Pakistan the result of contagion from other countries. This is the blowback from covertised, authoritarian policy-making of the decades when Pakistan supported proxy wars in Afghanistan, and launched misadventures such as Kargil.”

Ms Rehman said the commonly held notion that the US exit from Afghanistan would bring peace would soon “meet its nemesis” if the Americans opted for a complete withdrawal without a bilateral security agreement with the Afghan government.

She added that the return to pre-9/11 stability levels was unlikely and Afghanistan would be a crucial factor in any strategy to manage terror at home.

Calling for clarity on counter-terror strategy, Ms Rehman said, “days of muddling through key strategies” were over and the option of dialogue with non-state actors had been exhausted. “This will have to change if Pakistan is to survive the storm,” she added.

Analyst Zahid Hussain spoke about the various likely scenarios in Afghanistan and asked if Pakistan was prepared to meet the upcoming challenges. He said lack of clarity on part of the government was worrying.

He specifically cited the example of the ongoing air strikes against militant targets in the tribal areas as a reflection of the confused state of mind of the rulers.

Mr Hussain said government’s reluctance to announce a full-scale operation and its reliance on strikes could be harmful for the government in the long run.

He criticised the recently announced National Internal Security Policy document as ambiguous.

Defence analyst retired General Talat Masood said the drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan and elections in the neighbouring country topped the factors that would have serious implications for Pakistan.

Other factors included the future of West’s deal with Iran over its nuclear programme and how the Syrian crisis evolves.

Indian scholar Prof Uma Singh speaking about the prospects of BJP victory in the upcoming elections said Narendra Modi was an enigma, who was unclear about relations with neighbours and certainly had no structured policy towards Pakistan.



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