Nuaman Ishfaq Mughal
Islamabad: The Islamabad Policy Research Institute organised a special webinar on “Afghan Peace Process: The Way Forward” here in Islamabad. The webinar was addressed by prominent speakers including Ambassador (R) Riaz Mohammad Khan, Ambassador (R) Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and Ambassador (R) Rustam Shah Mohmand.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Riaz Muhammad Khan discussed how power sharing arrangement between two election opponents in Afghanistan lucidly defined the role of both: President Ghani, will have undivided control over the office of the executive without having to deal with another de facto “Prime Minister” and his power play, whereas Abdullah Abdullah, is saddled with leading the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR). He said that responsibilities were split based on the strengths of both politicians, calling it a good omen. He also pointed out that while the Taliban had outlasted American military might, their test began on the negotiating table.
According to Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the existential challenge of global warming, Covid-19 and its succeeding pandemics are likely to occur with shorter and shorter intervals and are likely to fatally distract and disable Afghanistan. He called for a comprehensive ‘green new deal’ which would transform national policies, including foreign policies. Ambassador Qazi held that similar to Pakistan, in Kabul there was ruthless and unending high-level corruption on daily display. He regretted that in such circumstances, merely honest and well-intentioned leaders might at best bring about piecemeal improvements, but never the systemic structural change required for survival. He outlined that the best case scenario was of a coalition political set-up which integrated the Taliban with the current dispensation in power-sharing, declared Daesh as the single biggest threat to Afghanistan, power was decentralized, with foreign troops replaced by an international monitoring mission.
Ambassador (R) Rustam Shah Mohmand was of the view that the role of regional powers had been instrumental in the once considered elusive peace process in Afghanistan. “The joint statement of representatives of Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia on 18 May 2020, shows the intent for an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process,” he added. All regional players will be beneficiaries of peace deal. However, he warned that given the huge financial investments made by India in various sectors, it will continue to meddle in Afghan affairs, especially to destabilize Pakistan.
In his welcome and concluding remarks, Acting President IPRI, Brig (R) Raashid Wali Janjua, highlighted that there was consensus on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan which is contingent on the outcome of the intra-Afghan dialogue.
It was unanimously agreed by speakers that the US-Taliban peace deal in February 2020, and the more recent President Ashraf Ghani giving Abdullah Abdullah the leading role in seeking peace with the Taliban and the ability to name half the cabinet, were historic achievements as both offered 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.