The Kabul Process

After a month of rhetorical allegations and finger-pointing, the Afghan government has taken up the proposition of engaging in dialogue with the Afghan Taliban. Where Pakistan had continually emphasised the need for a political settlement to the Afghan conflict as opposed to a military offensive in the region, its stance had previously been rebuked as being strategically sympathetic towards the insurgents. However, President Ashraf Ghani’s public espousal of the proposition at the 2nd Kabul Process Conference, attended by representatives from more than 20 countries and international organisations, recognizes the need for a partisan solution to the war that has ravaged Afghanistan.

The second round of the “Kabul Process”, an Afghan government-led initiative towards finding lasting peace in the war-torn country, takes place amidst the Ghani administrations’ bolstered efforts for the fruition of the tenuous TAPI gas pipeline. The completion of this elusive project could bring economic prosperity to the region including Pakistan.

Calling on government-to-government talks with Pakistan, Ghani had said: “I will present detailed peace offer to Taliban and Pakistan on behalf of the Afghan people.’ Ghani has made significant overtures in extending an olive branch to what he keeps referring to as the ubiquitous ‘Pakistan and the Taliban.’

Where, as per last years meeting of the Kabul Process, and Afghanistan’s strained foreign policy with Pakistan, the Taliban and Pakistan are recurrently lumped as one, Pakistan needs to underscore its role in the reconciliation process as an augmenter and facilitator of the negotiations rather than being the one negotiated with.

Under the current turbulent political climate, being part of an encouraging momentum that’s building towards achieving peace in the tumultuous region is crucial for Pakistan. The leaderships’ response to this advancement should be that of utmost support and cooperation. It needs to exercise whatever little influence it has with the Afghan Taliban to bring them to the table. Under global scrutiny for the FATF grey list, this reconciliation process is a chance for Pakistan to salvage its credibility as a nation working against terrorism outfits. The recently adopted hardline towards alleged terrorist groups needs to be followed through. Working towards attaining peace in the region is in the best interest of all those involved and our leadership needs to be a firm and active advocate of the peace process.

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