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Recipe for bringing about lasting peace in Afghanistan

Screenshot 2021-02-08 071007
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attend a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Ghani met with Khan in the capital Kabul to discuss Afghan peace talks, to build trust and strengthen relations between both Afghanistan and Pakistan

On January 29, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that a peaceful Afghanistan is “indispensable” for Pakistan and urged all parties involved in intra-Afghan negotiations to show patience, perseverance and flexibility to achieve success.

Recently, the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban resumed peace talks in Doha aimed at finding an end to decades of relentless conflict. This, despite clashes across the country and mutual recrimination.

During the past decades, the people of Afghanistan have immensely suffered owing to instability in their country. As a neighboring country, Pakistan has not only suffered severe social and economic damage, but also made great human sacrifices. Therefore, Pakistan is the most desirous of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The Afghan peace process has sent a ray of hope about ending the conflict and restoring peace in the country. I sincerely wish that the second round of intra-Afghan dialogue currently going on in Doha would make headway. Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and has not only supported the peace process but also made positive efforts to take the process to this level.

At the moment, it is important for the negotiating parties to demonstrate requisite patience, perseverance and sense of purpose. It is imperative to engage constructively, and negotiate with flexibility and mutual accommodation.

The international community should play a more constructive role to seek reduction of violence, continuous advancement on a political settlement, and devise a strategy for rehabilitation and economic development in the post-conflict era. In particular, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should prove to be an important platform to bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan as four of its member states share borders with Afghanistan.  

During his maiden visit to Kabul on November 19, 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan had interactions with the Afghan leaders and underlined that Pakistan’s message to all sides is to work together for a peaceful solution. “A peaceful and stable Afghanistan will open up new vistas of cooperation in trade and regional connectivity”, Prime Minister Imran Khan said. 

Here, I would like to mention in particular that the economic corridor jointly built and shared by China and Pakistan is right next to Afghanistan. Once peace is achieved in Afghanistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will quickly extend westward into Afghanistan, thus bringing Afghanistan into a new era of economic prosperity. 

In my opinion, to make substantial progress in the process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, the United States should immediately stop interfering in Afghan affairs, truly fulfil its commitment to completely withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and leave Afghanistan's future to its own people. Political leaders of various factions in Afghanistan should seize this historic opportunity to establish durable peace in Afghanistan.

Cheng Xizhong, Visiting Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Senior Fellow of the CharharInstitute, former Defense Attache in South Asian countries.