Experts stress inclusive dialogue as only solution to Afghan situation

Observer Report

The Nutshell Group and Corporate Pakistan Group hosted the Afghanistan Conference in a virtual seminar, the four-hour long session was streamed live on Nutshell Group’s official YouTube and Facebook pages.

The Afghanistan Conference was headed by M Azfar Ahsan, Chairman and Founder of Nutshell Group, who remarked that only due to the skills learnt through covid lockdown was the team able to mobilise a discussion of such magnitude in less than a week.

Participants of the Afghanistan Conference included Chairman Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Sherry Rehman, Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s Former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall (Retd) Sohail Aman, Senior Advisor of Chief Executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah, Omar Samad, Senior Research Professor of International Relations at John Hopkins University, Prof Dr Daniel Markey, Former Advisor to Afghanistani Presidents, Dr Torek Farhadi, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia Woodrow Wilson, Michael Kugelman Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Andleeb Abbas. Several other equally prolific and notable individuals partook in the conference.

Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari commented that “The region has suffered greatly from the lack of tact displayed by American forces.

They used sheer force to dominate the social fabric of a people whose nationalism (mixed in with a Jihadi zeal) they did not fully comprehend and as a result were never successful in their control of the country, even though their occupation lasted 20 years.

Let this be a geo political consolidation that brute force does more harm than good. The Taliban in control of Afghanistan is not the Taliban of yester years, as the mass media would want you to believe.

They have displayed immense grit, restraint and political acumen to achieve their goals today and are even actively seeking out international recognition to legitimize their way forward.

If nothing else, this warrants a dialogue with them on a compounded front – engaging civil, executive, political and military fronts. One thing is certain, that the way forward with current day Afghanistan will be successful only through diplomacy.”

“The combined global audience is reeling from the overthrow of Kabul.” said Senator Sherry Rehman. “It is the need of the hour that Pakistan maintains its diplomatic ties with Afghanistan owing to the strategic border it shares with the nation, particularly more so since consequences hailing from this situation will affect Pakistan first as already visible by the handful of terrorist attacks already taking place.

Karachi houses a larger Pashtun population than Afghanistan itself and if anything were to go further awry, global powers will turn to Pakistan as a scapegoat. We need to actively engage in dialogue and ensure that the narrative does not deviate from the truth.”

The Conference was split up between individual talking sessions by participants followed by moderated panel discussions that enabled a more interactive dialogue.

“Any show of force by the international community will only make matters worse, as has been indicated by the decades’ long occupation of American forces that has invariably led to the ascent of the Taliban as we know today.”

Stated Pakistan’s Former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall (Retd) Sohail Aman. “The coming few days and weeks are crucial and diplomatic relations cannot be rushed.”

Within a panel discussion itself, moderated by anchor and columnist Musharraf Zaidi, Lt Gen (Retd) Naeem Khan Lodhi, Defence Analyst and former caretaker federal minister for defense commented that “One point of concern is the matter of perception, and that the rise of the Taliban will some way enable or act as an inspiration for various other militants to follow suit.

The Taliban in this case have do not seem to share the same ethos as militant groups, as illustrated by their allowing women and girls to continue working and going to school.”

The conference was viewed by a global audience with viewers signing in from various levels of interest groups including government officials, journalists, media representatives, intelligentsia, politicians, military personnel and civilians.

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