A new Afghan policy.

WITH the Taliban having banned their education, Pakistan can allow Afghan female students to complete their degrees in Pakistan. This would allow the country to embark on a new Afghan policy, which it direly needs after its recent disappointments with the Taliban regime.

Pakistan's Afghan policy has remained strategic-centric, which needs a radical transformation. A new Afghan policy should focus on a broader engagement with the Afghan people and the regime in power. In the recent past, civilian and military leaders made tall claims about geoeconomic insertions in the country's foreign policy priorities, but in reality, the whole design remained geostrategic in nature. The reason for this lies in the simplistic view that both come at each other's cost. But a state can adjust both within its vision, as geopolitics and geoeconomics are not different entities at all.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has compounded Pakistan's security challenges. It has caused frustration among the architects of the Afghan policy as the country has not yet obtained the cooperation it had expected from the Taliban. The state institutions must adopt a cooperation-based approach toward the Taliban.

The Taliban are a reality, and they are not going to disappear from the scene, at least in the near future. They seek to develop their political capital in the region through economic cooperation and engagement. However, their policies towards women, political and ethnic opposition, and terrorist networks will continue raising new domestic and international challenges for them. There are equal chances of them bringing about a mid- to long-term order or disorder in the country, depending on their attitude and internal consensus. Pakistan may have little influence left now to guide or advise the Taliban.

People-to-people contact with practical cooperation should be a vital component of a fresh approach.

Pakistan needs a delicate approach towards Afghanistan, which should not be based on appeasement or hostility. A hostile approach could aggravate the bitterness in bilateral relations, and in case the Taliban regime succeeds in establishing order, it can bring Afghanistan to where it was before their takeover. If the Taliban become weakened, they have the full potential to transform again into an insurgent movement and start exporting terrorism globally. In the worst-case scenario, Pakistan would be the first country to be affected.

Apart from the TTP, their closest...

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