MONITORING (SW) – In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Imran Khan, prime minister of Pakistan has said not seeing through the Afghanistan peace process or abandoning it for any reason would be a great travesty.
He asserted that with the exception of the resilient Afghans themselves, no people have paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than the people of Pakistan.
“Through decades of conflict, Pakistan has dealt with the responsibility of taking care of more than 4 million Afghan refugees. Guns and drugs have also flowed into our country. The wars have disrupted our economic trajectory and radicalized fringes of our own society. The Pakistan I had known growing up in the 1960s and 1970s changed in some deeply unsettling ways”, declared Khan.
In part of his article, the Pakistani premier stated when President Trump wrote to him in late 2018 to ask for Pakistan’s assistance in helping the United States achieve a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, Islamabad had no hesitation in assuring the president that Pakistan would make every effort to facilitate such an outcome.
“Thus began arduous rounds of talks between the United States and the Taliban, which culminated in the February U.S.-Taliban peace agreement. This agreement, in turn, has laid the groundwork for talks between the Afghan leadership and the Taliban”.
He added the path to get here wasn’t easy, but Pakistan was able to press on thanks to the courage and flexibility that were on display from all sides. “The United States and its allies facilitated the prisoner exchange between Kabul and the Taliban. The government of Afghanistan and the Taliban responded to the Afghan people’s yearning for peace”.
He added the intra-Afghan negotiations are likely to be even more difficult, requiring patience and compromise from all sides.
“Progress could be slow and painstaking; there may even be the occasional deadlock, as Afghans work together for their future. At such times, we would do well to remember that a bloodless deadlock on the negotiating table is infinitely better than a bloody stalemate on the battlefield”.
He suggested all those who have invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation for setting unrealistic timelines. “A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise”, he said, adding all should guard against regional spoilers who are not invested in peace and see instability in Afghanistan as advantageous for their own geopolitical ends.
Imran Khan wrote that Pakistan will continue to support the Afghan people in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors. He urged all parties to reduce violence. “Just as the Afghan government has recognized the Taliban as a political reality, it is hoped that the Taliban would recognize the progress Afghanistan has made”.
He claimed Pakistan continues to be the target of attacks launched by externally enabled terrorist groups based in Afghanistan.
“These terrorist groups pose a clear and present danger to global peace. We hope the Afghan government will take measures to control ungoverned spaces inside its territory from where terrorist groups are able to plan and carry out attacks against the Afghan people, the international coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan, and other countries in the region, including Pakistan. Like the United States, we do not want the blood and treasure we have shed in the war against terrorism to be in vain”.
For a post-peace scenario, Khan said it is heartening that the United States and Pakistan are of one mind on the importance of a “peace dividend” for ensuring a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
“The first step toward that peace has been taken in Doha. Not seeing through the Afghanistan peace process or abandoning it for any reason would be a great travesty”, said premier of Pakistan.