ISLAMABAD -- The peace process in Afghanistan should not be seen as a zero sum game, but as a much needed bid to restore peace as well as prosperity in the country and the region.
The Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) organized a special webinar on 'Afghan Peace Process: The Way Forward' here in the capital on Wednesday.
Featured speakers included Ambassador (retd) Riaz Mohammad Khan, Ambassador (retd) Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and Ambassador (retd) Rustam Shah Mohmand. It was unanimously agreed that the US-Taliban peace deal in February this year, and the more recent President Dr. Ashraf Ghani giving Abdullah Abdullah the leading role in seeking peace with the Taliban and the ability to name half the cabinet, are historic achievements. Both offer hope for the much more challenging stage of the peace process in Afghanistan, the intra-Afghan dialogue between the Kabul government, various political factions and the Taliban.
It was discussed that while the US may have arm-twisted both to sign the power-sharing deal in order to make the environment conducive for dialogue with the Taliban, it also addresses President Ghani's reservation of being pushed out of the loop on the Doha Agreement, putting him back into the heart of affairs, along with Abdullah Abdullah, who is not only the government's chief negotiator but also getting a hefty share in the cabinet.
All the speakers agreed that the Taliban's capacity to control violence is questionable and so before the withdrawal, the US along with other regional leaders need to define the minimum standard of what will constitute the new governance framework of the country. It was also opined that complete withdrawal of the US is not on the table. The US will likely have presence in Afghanistan to keep a close eye on China, and perhaps even support Indian interests in the region, which might keep them in confrontation with the Taliban. The speakers also discussed that it will be interesting to see how various powers engage with Afghanistan after the withdrawal of troops based on local interests or in the context of geopolitical interests towards the United States which has the ability to offer long-term commitments.
Ambassador Riaz Muhammad Khan discussed how this power sharing arrangement between two election opponents lucidly defines the role of both: President Ghani, who enjoys being a technocrat, will have undivided control over the office of the executive without having to deal with...