Pakistan continues efforts for peace in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan continues to play a role to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan as the United States has resumed drone strikes to target its foes in the war-torn country.

Pakistan has until now dissociated itself with the recent US drone strike that targeted the Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Pakistan said its soil was not used for the drone attack.

Pakistan had played an important role in US-Afghan Taliban talks that led to the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan.

Last year, many Pakistanis were pleased with the new state of affairs in Afghanistan, as the Ashraf Ghani-led government collapsed during the US withdrawal, leaving Taliban to continue capturing vast swaths of the country, ultimately seizing control of Kabul. The West was however, unhappy.

The Afghan wars have imposed a heavy cost on Pakistan. Extremism and terrorism emanating from these conflicts have also hurt the Gulf region, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, Pakistan and the Gulf nations have a common interest in a peaceful Afghanistan. They want the US and its Western allies to join hands in dealing with its current humanitarian crisis, which, if not addressed quickly, could spiral into another conflict and wave of transnational terrorism.

Pakistan also needs peace amid the economic crises. The new government is struggling to overcome an acute economic crisis by meeting tough conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund. This has caused severe inflation.

Pakistan expects Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China to additionally shore up its national reserves, once the IMF deal is in place. Saudi Arabia could also act as a via media for Pakistan’s economic and security re-engagement with the US.

Given its own interest in China’s investment and trade, the Kingdom could even help to assuage US concerns about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a lifeline for the South Asian nation.

Pakistan wants to work with all countries working for peace in Afghanistan for its own sake. Working together with China and the US itself is a huge task and an achievement.

Pakistan is also active to enhance bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan.  Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif said this week that a joint committee comprising representatives from various political parties has been constituted to resume the stalled trade activities with neighbouring Afghanistan at two border crossings including Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan tribal district.

He said the two border crossing points including Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan tribal district were closed for the last two weeks due to tensions among various local tribes.

The closure of roads has badly affected trading between Pakistan and Afghanistan, besides affecting economy of the area.

Former Foreign Secretary Najamuddin Shaikh said Pakistan had been in contact with China on the Afghanistan issue. “Pakistan wants to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used as a platform or safe haven by any terrorist group,” he added.

Shaikh said Pakistan had been urging the international community to remain cautious against the possibility of incitement and the role of spoilers, both inside and outside the country not to derail efforts aimed at ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Former Ambassador Masood Khalid said all the neighbouring countries are participating for peace in Afghanistan. “This shows they are keen to improve peace and stability in Afghanistan in order to improve geo-economics situation of the region. Pakistan is playing an important role on Afghanistan,” he said.

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