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MARDAN: Experts at an international conference at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan here on Wednesday called for the regional powers, particularly Pakistan and India, to help contribute towards establishing durable peace in Afghanistan in the wake of the withdrawal of Nato-led forces from the war-torn country.

The two-day conference ‘The NATO drawdown from Afghanistan, Challenges and Opportunities’ is organised by the department of political science.

Scholars from England, Turkey, India and Pakistan would participate in the moot, varsity officials said.

Speakers at the fi rst day session included among others Dr Ragip Kutay Karaca from Istanbul Gelisim University, Dr Shanthie Mariet D’ Souza from New Delhi, Professor David Robert Jones, University of Southampton, UK, Dr Razia Sultana, Vice Chancellor of Benazir Women University, Peshawar, former ambassadors Khalid Khattak and Rustam Shah Mohmand, and teachers from various universities.

The first session was chaired by AWKUM Vice-Chancellor Professor Ihsan Ali.

Rustam Shah Mohmand, former ambassador to Afghanistan, said that some experts and analysts feared that there were chances of starting proxy war between Pakistan and India in the region after drawdown of Nato and US forces from Afghanistan. He said there must be an agreement not only between Pakistan and India but also among other regional countries to help establish lasting peace in Afghanistan.

‘‘Pakistan’s credibility is low among some Afghan groups, as a result these groups respect and accept China’s role,” he said, adding due to this reason China could also play a vital role for stability in Afghanistan.

Dr Noman Hanif, Professor at University of London, said United States had to play key role in the regional peace and stability.

Khalid Khattak, former ambassador to Russia and Brazil, said that Russia didn’t publically welcome the arrival of US and Nato forces to Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 attacks on America. He said for Russia the threats were the Muslim insurgencies in the region as what it had experienced in Chechnya.

He, however, said Russia was keen to boost relations between the military leadership of both the Pakistan and Russia.

Professor Razia Sultana said that after the withdrawal of the US-led forces from Afghanistan, Pakistan had to tackle border, refugee, IDPs, and Taliban issues simultaneously.

Dr Fazl Rahim Marwat, Vice-Chancellor of Bacha Khan University Charsadda, stated that Pakistan was the victim of the great game, cold-war and the Iranian revolution.

He said destruction of Afghanistan was destruction of the whole Asia, and called for all the stakeholders to do their part in bringing stability and peace to the strife-hit country.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2015

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