Panellists urge US, international community not to abandon Afghanistan to a ‘fragile’ govt

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Zubair Qureshi

Panellists at a discussion ‘The Next Chapter for Afghanistan’ expressed the hope and urged the US President Biden and the international community not to abandon Afghanistan to the current ‘fragile government.’

They were of the view that Afghanistan’s current political leadership was very fragile and personal-interest oriented.

The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) had organized the panel discussion.

The panel of experts included Mirwais Yasini, Former Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament , Dr. Jonathan Schroden, Director of Countering Threats and Challenges Program (CTCP) at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA); Ms.Suzanne Schroeder, Independent analyst on Afghanistan and Ambassador Riaz M. Khan, Former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI and Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG ISSI joined in the interactive discussion which followed.

Afghan delegate Mirwais Yasini outlined the history of violence in Afghanistan and elucidated how internal corruption also contributed to the damage in the country. He said that Afghanistan fought the war against terrorism for the whole world.

There is nothing in the name of national interest and democracy only remains as a slogan, he said adding Taliban had to prove themselves a viable entity and integrate themselves into Afghan society.

He went on to outline how poverty is increasing at an alarming rate and refugee returnees are now trying to migrate back to Pakistan because of concerns such as lack of job security. He said that the immediate concern is how to avoid the bloodshed.

Dr Schroden spoke on how the US experience with terrorist groups was more problematic in places where the internal structure of the country has completely broken down because complete state collapse leaves space for terrorist groups to fill the void.

Ambassador Riaz Khan said prolonged US presence in Afghanistan would lend some legitimacy to the Taliban to continue fighting and would continue to prolong the status quo.

During the interactive ex discussion, Ambassador Aizaz stated that a major concern is that once the US forces withdraw and the attention of Afghan factions is towards infighting, the focus of militants – especially Al-Qaeda and ISIS – will be in the direction of ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Khalid outlined different scenarios of what Biden’s proposed withdrawal would entail for Afghanistan.

He said that any agreed settlement should enjoy regional support as well otherwise it will be very fragile.