ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US should bridge the trust deficit among all stakeholders to bring peace in Afghanistan because one country cannot do so on its own, experts at a seminar said on Monday.

The seminar titled Western Engagements in Afghanistan hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Explaining the Danish Stabilisation Programme on trust building and increased cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Consultant Institute of Military Operations, Royal Danish Defence College, David Vestenskov said only a region-led and region-owned peace process is a sustainable solution for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan

“For that the first step is improved and strengthened relations between Islamabad and Kabul. While Pakistan continues to play a supportive role in promoting peace in the region, the key to a socio-economically stable Afghanistan lies in sustained engagements of the West,” he said.

He said neighbouring countries of Afghanistan have immense potential to contribute to the welfare of the people in a war torn country.

Coordination between the West and the countries neighbouring Afghanistan for a shared vision for the region needs to be strengthened, he added.

Senior research fellow at the Strategic Vision Institute Dr Talat Farooq said trust is the main currency of which there is short supply in the region.

She said there is first a need for bridging the trust deficit among all stakeholders through constructive engagements.

“Holding Pakistan responsible for someone else’s failure in Afghanistan is factually wrong, irresponsible and is not going to help the Afghan peace process. Pakistan should be engaged constructively and should be treated as a sovereign state,” she said.

Assistant professor defence and strategic study at the Quaid-i-Azam University Dr Salma Malik said a peaceful, stable and democratic Afghan society is in everyone’s best interests and that peace and stability in Pakistan is dependent on the peace and stability in Afghanistan.

She said the Afghan government and the international community has to realise their responsibility of ensuring stability in the country instead of blaming Pakistan for their own failures.

SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said it is important to create economic interdependence between Afghanistan and Pakistan where mega infrastructure projects like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline and the Central Asia-South Asia electricity project are important for economic growth and trade prospects in the region.

He said both countries need to revise the old Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and also move towards signing of preferential trade agreement. Bilateral trade promotion will also require close cooperation of border related services including security and customs staff.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018



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