KNOWING fully well that restoring peace in war-torn Afghanistan was a triangular tight-rope walking and results would take time to bear fruit, Pakistan remained persistent in its efforts to achieve an objective, which at times looked elusive, for their were obvious spoilers, hurdles from India, in-fight among internecine Taliban groups, and yet the peace process has shown progress, which is indeed heartening.
Scanning through pages of history, it was clear from the beginning that the task would not be easy. Reasons are not difficult to understand.
Multiple factors, inter-mingling with each other, made it tougher.Afghans have seen unprecedented violence.
Pakistan has been critical of the military centered heavy handed solution of Afghan issue form the onset.
However, after suffering heavy losses in men and material, ‘US led coalition has got convinced to give peaceful conflict resolution a chance’.
Efforts have materialized and ‘Afghans are close to achieving peace despite barriers from spoilers’ who are striving to guard their interests.
Entire world in general and Afghans in particular have had a sigh of relief after successful start of Doha peace process, made possible through sincere Pakistani efforts.
Spoilers are making efforts to derail the second phase of Intra Afghan negotiations, however, steadfastness and patience displayed by Taliban has defeated bad designs.
Taliban have already hinted at prospects of a new/interim Islamic Government with a role of all stake holders.
Efforts of spoilers have badly suffered after new US administration under President Biden has decided to continue with Zalmay Khalilzad to oversee peace efforts proceed as designed.
Pakistani support for the peace process gives a hint of our shared future together as conjoined twins.
New developments related to CPEC provide unique trade and corridor connectivity opportunities to Afghans.
Unfortunately, the spoilers like Amrullah Saleh continue to spread havoc on fellow countrymen through their support to hired killers and gangs like ISKP.
Regime led Special Forces have been found involved in target killings of journalists, released Taliban prisoners and innocent Madrassa students.
India has been claiming friendship with Afghans however, at the same time she has also contributing in further dividing Afghan nation through encouraging violence and discouraging peace efforts.
Indian influence contributed in increased violence through their pawns like Saleh.
Hollow Indian claims have made Afghans suffer diseases in the past through low quality Indian exported Wheat.
Lately, India has hinted providing Afghans with COVID-19 vaccine without establishing its authenticity and effectiveness through formal clinical trials.
For those impressed with slogan of Shining India, the tale of miserable management of COVID-19 by India has been an eye opener.
On December 2, the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban announced that they had made a breakthrough in the Intra-Afghan Dialogue.
The two parties have concluded a written agreement that lays down how the procedure moves for future discussions in the peace process on substantive issues such as a ceasefire.
With the peace process nearing its conclusion, the leading question that comes to mind with regard to Pakistan facilitating the Afghan Peace Process is: what is Pakistan going to get out of a stable Afghanistan? It obviously wants to dispel the international community’s perception of Pakistan as a state-sponsoring terrorism that provides safe haven, intelligence and military aid to terrorist groups. Additionally, Pakistan also wants to improve its relations with major regional powers including Afghanistan, US, Russia, and the European Union.
It is the first time that Pakistan’s hopes and role in attaining peace and security in South Asia aligns with the interests of the international community.
All previous attempts at ending the long-drawn and bloody armed conflict in Afghanistan, and stabilizing the region, were unsuccessful.
This may be attributable to Pakistan’s previously strong support of a Taliban-led government in Afghanistan.
However, it seems Pakistan is done playing favourites in the peace process. A shift towards negotiation and compromise from military initiatives by Pakistan can be seen. In this respect, we see Pakistan’s long-term policies also start to shift.
Pakistan’s role as a facilitator in the Afghan Peace Process is quite beneficial to the state. By being back at the negotiating table with the major regional powers, Pakistan hopes to improve its relations with other states.
It provides Pakistan with the opportunity to attain one of its primary foreign policy aims with respect to Afghanistan – to establish a network of regional allies.
Furthermore, Pakistan hopes to work in collaboration with Afghanistan to suppress terror groups and alleviate the international community’s claims of state sponsored terrorism.
This has a chance of affecting Pakistan’s position with the Financial Action Task Force, and can also lead to increased trade and possibly the reinstatement of economic aid flowing into the country.
In order to improve its ties with Afghanistan, Pakistan should hope for a friendly government in Kabul.
Pakistan has made a concerted effort to appear as a non-biased actor in the Afghan Peace Process by not positioning itself with one party.
During a strife between the Afghan government and the Taliban at the Doha negotiations, Pakistan opted to not intervene.
Instead, Pakistan formally acknowledged President Ashraf Ghani as the new president of Afghanistan, and expressed its desire to work closely with the Afghan government in the future.
This has also improved Pakistan’s credibility before the international community in its commitment to ensuring a propitious outcome from the Intra-Afghan Dialogue.