Afghan imbroglio and a window of opportunity for Pakistan
AFGHANISTAN has been known as the “graveyard of mighty empires”. It has doomed mul tiple empires that has attacked its land.
The two prominent examples post World War-II are the death and ultimate destruction of the former Soviet Union; and the destruction of the United States and its allies in terms of loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in a war with no positive results for the US or its allies.
It is the reason that the US and its allies want to end their longest war in history and want a complete and swift withdrawal of their forces from Afghanistan even before given time.
This state of affairs presents a score of challenges for regional countries including Pakistan, but it also offers Pakistan a good window of opportunity.Initially, the war was lodged by the US and its NATO allies without thinking ifs and buts.
The day’s administration under President George W. Bush was so arrogant that it even did not give Pakistan a chance to think whether to be part of this war or not.
Pakistan was told straightforwardly in a threatening posture, “either you are with us or with them (Taliban ruling regime in Afghanistan)”. Hence, Pakistan joined the war which was not its own.
In this way, an attack followed by bloody civil war began in the region. That war brought destruction not only to Afghanistan but for the whole region beyond its borders.
The most affected regional country, in this regard, was Pakistan. It witnessed hundreds of terrorist attacks, bore loss of thousands of lives and suffered loss of billions of dollars to its economy.
It tried hard to fight those insurgents and destroy their whereabouts. It launched multiple operations against those terror outfits. Even then, it was asked to Do More, by its NATO allies.
They, on the one hand, did not praise Pakistan for its sacrifices in their war, on the other hand, pressurized it and condemned it of not doing enough.
Similarly, the United States and its NATO allies tried all the methods and techniques to subdue Afghan Taliban fighters and end insurgency, but Taliban remained firm to the ground and fought back with the mighty empire and its allies.
This made the United States and its allies to realize that they are unable to win-over Taliban and that their tax payers’ money and soldiers’ lives will be lost in this long and protracted war. Hence, they decided to save their face, talk to the Taliban and leave their land with a deal.
Following this, the United States and its NATO allies began to take help of different countries to ask Taliban to come to the negotiation table and resolve the issue accordingly. Hence, after a lengthy and great efforts of various countries such as Qatar, Russia, Turkey and Pakistan, Afghan Taliban accepted American offer of talks.
The most important role in bringing Taliban at the negotiation table, no doubt, was of Pakistan(’s) that yields a good amount of influence over Afghan Taliban and its leadership.
Now, when both parties are negotiating with some gapes and divergences in their aims and objectives, it is Pakistan again, that has to play vital role, so that a sustainable deal could be concluded.
As a sustainable deal is not only in the favour of both parties involved, but is also of great importance for peace in Afghanistan and the region beyond.
It is really important for Pakistan also, because peace in Pakistan can only be created when there is peace at its borders. Moreover, Pakistan has suffered a lot at the hands of this war without any personal interest or gain.
Therefore, current regional situation is really favourable for Pakistan, as through it peace would be established in its western corner of the country and it has also provided a window of opportunity for Pakistan as it is the most important regional actor due to its influence upon Afghan Taliban.
Furthermore, as the United States wants to monitor Afghanistan once its troops are gone, Pakistan can play a vital role in this regard.
Pakistan, as stated by its foreign office, has taken a right step by not providing any physical presence to the US and NATO troops through Pakistani basis, and by demanding the transfer of modern technology equipment so that Pakistan can monitor situation in Afghanistan and can bring peace to Pakistan as well as to the region beyond its borders which might be disturbed by non-state actors after the withdrawal of the US and NATO forces.
Furthermore, Pakistan can fully benefit from the prevalent situation in a way that it might ask the United States and its Western allies to pursue International Monetary Fund to provide it loan on relaxed conditions — as discussed by Finance Minister in its recent press conference after budget session.
Additionally, Pakistan can also pursue leaders of the world to take Pakistan out of the financial watchdog FATF’s enhanced monitoring Grey List, as Pakistan was not put into this list purely on merit but due to pressure of some states that yield a good amount of influence on the watchdog.
To conclude, Pakistan is an important regional actor and it is playing a great role to create peace in Afghanistan.
It has been pursuing Afghan Taliban, from day one, to come to the terms with the US and NATO in order to end the longest war of the region and the US history. No doubt, Taliban has responded Pakistan’s call and are engaged in talks with some reservations.
Therefore, Pakistan has to take its all steps very cautiously and act prudently to gain peace for it and for the region and, above, all cease the opportunity to revive its political and economic position at global stage.
—The writer is a researcher in Social and Political Affairs and currently working with The Hunar Foundation.