Pakistan can bring Afghan Taliban, US closer: experts

Published November 24, 2021
In this file photo, a delegation from Afghan Taliban’s Qatar-based political office meets Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Aug 25. — Photo courtesy foreign ministry
In this file photo, a delegation from Afghan Taliban’s Qatar-based political office meets Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Aug 25. — Photo courtesy foreign ministry

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a round table conference have observed that Pakistan can act as a bridge between the Afghan Taliban and the international community, especially the US, as the latter is reluctant to recognise the former’s government in Kabul.

The panelists discussed Afghanistan’s foreign policy under the Taliban, cross-border movement of militants and counter-terrorism, Pakistan’s foreign policy interests and options for Afghanistan, regional stability in Central Asia and Russia, China’s interest, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor/Belt and Road Initiative, US foreign policy options in Afghanistan, according to a statement issued here on Tuesday.

The Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar organised two parallel round table conferences to discuss the Afghan Taliban’s seizure of power and transformation of the region’s security landscape. The university’s political science department organised the events.

The first discussion was based on the power retrieval of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the challenges faced by them such as their acceptance around world, the brain-drain from Afghanistan, food challenges, and the Afghan foreign reserves frozen by the US government and assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which has led to many challenges, including protection of human rights, winning of international support, and resolution of economic and humanitarian crises.

Discuss Afghan foreign policy under Taliban, regional issues

The second round table discussed the return of the Afghan Taliban to power and transformation of the security landscape of the region. Apparently, Pakistan, China and Russia will have far more influence than before in the broader Central Asian and South Asian region, the panelists observed.

According to them, while the situation in Afghanistan is still evolving, the Afghan Taliban’s ascendance to power has raised concerns that a revival of militancy could put the region at risk by vitalising the transnational militant groups and threatening foreign investments, those linked to BRI and CPEC.

Pakistan has a unique relationship with Afghanistan and remains the key player in the new scenario. The long history of turbulent relations is defined by cultural and ethnic connections, sovereignty concerns, security interests, and trade. Pakistan has a huge interest in the Afghan Taliban acting firmly and not allowing Afghanistan to descend into an ungoverned space.

The SBBWU and Centre for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) Islamabad signed a MoU, which included joint research collaborations, organisation of conferences, and seminars.

The panelists included SBBWUP Vice-Chancellor Prof Razia Sultana, City University of Science and Technology Prof Minhajul Hassan, CGSS chief executive retired Lt-Colonel Khalid Taimur Akram, former ambassador Ayaz Wazir and experts Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, Dr Sadia Suleman, Prof Shabir Ahmad, Imtiaz Guland Dr Raza Rehman.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2021

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