NUST Institute Of Policy Studies Organised A Webinar On The Prospects Of Peace In Afghanistan In The Wake Of The US Exit Here On Wednesday.

NUST Institute Of Policy Studies Organised A Webinar On The Prospects Of Peace In Afghanistan In The Wake Of The US Exit Here On Wednesday. Titled, “Afghanistan at Crossroads: Promise of Peace & Geopolitical Imperatives,” the webinar brought together eminent experts, veteran security analysts, think tank leaders, and scholars to discuss the challenges of establishing peace in the post-US future in Afghanistan.

Lt Gen (Retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi, former Defence Secretary of Pakistan, stated that the US exit was motivated by the American desire to cut losses in Afghanistan. He said that Afghanistan’s neighbours need to act with maturity and deep understanding of regional security dynamics to be able to contribute positively to normalisation in the war-torn country.

Dr Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwardi, Professor of International Relations at the University of Peshawar, stressed the need for intra-Afghan talks to try to reach an agreement on an acceptable future governance model for Afghanistan, which both answered the concerns and resonated with the aspirations of different sections of Afghan society and polity.

Dr Vladimir Kozin, Leading Expert, Military-Political Studies Center at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), stated that peace in Afghanistan required the total absence of foreign troops as well as efforts for rapid economic development without both of which Afghans would not be able to find prosperity and stability. In this regard, Dr Kozin said international development organizations and major powers needed to commit major material assistance to Afghanistan.

Dr Ahmet Uysal, Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM), Ankara, Turkey, said that if past was any indicator of how things could happen in future, then it was unlikely that the US would completely withdraw from Afghanistan. Dr Uysal stressed that, rather than intervene and interfere in Afghan affairs, it was the duty of all stakeholders to help Afghans build peace sincerely without any ulterior motives.

Lt Gen (Retd) Zahid Latif Mirza, Former Secretary Defence Production, said that Afghanistan had been devastated by the dynamics of behavior of major powers. He said that the tendency of South Asian conflict dynamics to be projected into the Afghan situation had also undermined the cause of peace. Sayed Ishaq Gailani, veteran Afghan statesman and the Founder of National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan, stated that the situation in Afghanistan was volatile, and that there was a risk that the US exit could lead to further conflict. Mr Gailani regretted the abysmal state of development in the country and said that civil war, if it happened, will be a tragedy.

Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal, School of Social Sciences & Humanities, pointed out the probability of creation of division and enclaves in Afghanistan in future that could hamper peace and reconciliation. Lt Gen (Retd) Masood Aslam, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Mexico, said that the Taliban had come a long way since 2001. He mentioned that their political and diplomatic acumen now was far sharper than in the past as was evidenced during their parleys with the U.S. as well as the intra-Afghan talks. He stated that if the US was serious about peace in Afghanistan, it should try and form an interim unity government in Afghanistan before exit.

Maj Gen (Retd) Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery, President, CGSS, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), stated that the U.S. had continuously changed the goalpost in Afghanistan as a result of which the end state in Afghanistan was hazy. He said that there was a need to pay attention to the role of proxies that did not desire peace in Afghanistan. He said these forces were the same that also wanted Afghanistan’s neighbours to be disturbed. Brig (Retd) Mahmood Shah, renowned expert of Afghan affairs, advised that Pakistan needed to help Afghanistan in post-conflict nation-building while ensuring that it was not manipulated into taking any step that did not agree with its own long-term stability, security, and development.