Waiting for Afghan dialogue | Pakistan Today

Waiting for Afghan dialogue

  • Permanent ceasefire and power sharing agreement

The latest Corps Commanders’ meeting has called for early start of Intra-Afghan dialogue. This was considered necessary as fighting in Afghanistan has harmed Pakistan a lot. Unsettled conditions in Afghanistan have helped terrorists to use Afghan soil to launch attacks inside Pakistan. The Monday blast in Chaman and the Wednesday suicide attack in Ladha are the latest examples. According to a recently released UN report, more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents are presently hiding in Afghanistan. Terrorist organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, Al-Qaeda, Jamaatul Ahrar, the Islamic State, the Lashkr-e-Jhangvi and Baloch extremists have set up safe havens in Afghanistan.

Peace in Afghanistan and a strong government capable of enforcing its writ is in Pakistan’s interest. Pakistan should do all it can to help the Afghans’ conciliation. It should control the tendency to patronize or order about the Afghans as it invariably leads to resentment in a proud nation that has brought three empires to their knees. Left to themselves to decide, the Afghans are likely to seek better relations with Pakistan. Pakistan can win over the Afghans through projection of soft power like providing more scholarships to Afghan students, more hospital access to those from the neighbouring country and promotion of trade.

With President Ashraf Ghani ordering the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners, peace talks are likely to begin within days. Most controversial would be the post settlement constitution.

Under Mullah Umar, power was centralized in the hands of an “Amir-ul-Momineen” who was the head of state and exercised ultimate authority. An Islamic council, handpicked by the supreme leader, served as the legislature. The country was run under strict Sharia laws. TV and music were banned, men were forced to pray and grow beards, women required to cover themselves from head to toe. They could not go to school or workplace.

Will the Taliban be willing to elect a sovereign Parliament? Will they allow women get an education and go to workplaces? Will the Taliban revise their draconian laws like amputations and stoning to death? Will they allow freedom of opinion and an independent media?

The negotiations would be complex and protracted and might take months if not years to resolve differences. What is immediately required is a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing arrangement.