THE Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the US/NATO forces have created a conducive environment, where Pakistan can do a lot to help stabilize Afghanistan and contribute towards a sustainable peace and development in that country.
The evolving situation in Afghanistan has rejected the negative and a spoiler role, which was being played by India to keep Afghanistan unstable as it tried its best to fail the intra-Afghan dialogue by ill advising the Ghani government.
Obviously, instability in Afghanistan was in India’s favour as it was able to advance its Pakistan specific geopolitical and strategic gains by sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan by using the Afghan soil.
Now, with the Taliban’s announcement that the Afghan soil will not be used against any country, India’s spoiler role to fail the intra-Afghan dialogue and its sponsored terrorism in Pakistan have ended as with the Taliban’s take over, India’s military/intelligence footprint in Afghanistan has already vanished, and its objectives of destabilizing Pakistan and the CPEC have gone to drains.
Hence, now the situation in Afghanistan has turned favourable for Pakistan to contribute towards the success of the ongoing intra-Afghan dialogue to form an inclusive government in Afghanistan, and towards sustainable peace in that country and its long term economic development.
The major geostrategic shift in the Afghan situation has also enhanced Pakistan’s value for the US and EU countries in the context of facilitating their relations with the Taliban governed Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics (CARs).
Already Pakistan has created a good will by assisting many EU and other countries, the IMF and the World Bank in evacuating their personnel from Kabul, for which they praised Pakistan for its constructive role, and this action has enhanced Pakistan’s image internationally.
Hence, in coordination with the international community, Pakistan can play a proactive diplomacy to enhance its relations with Afghanistan and assist it in achieving stability and development.
While Pakistan should immediately recognize and consolidate its relations with the upcoming government in Kabul by signing agreements of long term economic, trade and strategic relations, including Afghanistan’s inclusion in the CPEC.
Pakistan’s strong relations with Afghanistan would also contribute toward improving its relations with the US and EU countries, as they would require Pakistan for facilitating the development of their relations with the new Afghan government and the Central Asian States (CARs) to enhance their economic and trade relations with these countries using the CPEC.
In this context, due to the recent closure of the IMF and the Work Bank’s economic assistance to Afghanistan, as that country will likely face food shortage in the next four to six months time, and the people of Afghanistan will look towards Pakistan and many Afghan refugees might also enter Pakistan, apart from its own needs, Pakistan should immediately import and stock sufficient quantity of wheat, rice and sugar to provide it to the Afghan people as a good will gesture.
In view Pakistan’s difficult financial situation, to import the aforesaid food items for the Afghans, using its recently created good will with some EU countries, the IMF and the World Bank by helping them in evacuating their personnel and staff from Afghanistan, Pakistan should seek aid/funds from those countries and organizations.
Pakistan can also create a fund, where rich Pakistanis in the country and the expatriates can contribute to be used for importing the above mentioned food items.
As many Afghan technocrats, doctors, engineers, IT experts and economists, who have been working with the previous Afghan governments, the US and NATO forces, are leaving Afghanistan, which will result into a brain drain to run the Afghan institutions efficiently, Pakistan should also prepare to assist Afghanistan in this regard by sending its own technocrats as and when required by that country.
In Afghanistan, the new government will have to reorganize the police service and the national defence forces by using Taliban’s own trained manpower and also including those who were part of these services in the times of the previous governments.
In this context, the new Afghan government might request Pakistan to provide the required technical and training support, which should be provided, as Pakistan has got a plenty of fully qualified and trained/skilled core of trainers in these areas.
Also, to stabilize Afghanistan and for its CPEC based economic development, Pakistan should further cement its strategic partnership with China and strengthen bilateral relations with Russia centred around the CPEC, as both the major powers are poised to recognize and work with the Taliban dominated government in Afghanistan.
In this context, it is a good initiative that Prime Minister Imran Khan has called the Russian President Putin on the telephone and invited him to visit Pakistan.
In nut shall, Pakistan should assume a pivotal position to use the favourable Afghan situation for achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan and this region, and also to advance its own and Afghanistan’s CPEC based economic development.
In this context, Pakistan should pursue such a robust diplomacy that India is ultimately compelled to think that it would be beneficial for it to resolve the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, and join the CPEC to exploit opportunities of building cheaper economic and trade relations with Afghanistan, the CARs, Iran, Turkey, Russia and China.
—The writer, a retired Col, is Senior Research Fellow at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.