Heading towards peace

  • Pakistan and Afghanistan must resolve their issues first


Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib was in Rawalpindi along with a team that included Interior Minister Amrullah Saleh. The team met Pakistani officials, with the highlight of the visit coming on Tuesday, at the meeting with Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. The delegation had come over to pave the way for a visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani later on. Though Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited President Ghani for a visit, there are still a number of issues outstanding between the two states. The Afghan NSA’s discussions with General Bajwa covered peace and stability in the region, and border management, which might indicate that the proposed fence between the two countries was one of the issues discussed.

Mr Mohib’s visit is parallel to the talks in Moscow where Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar held a press conference. These talks excluded the Ghani government, as do the US-Taliban talks in Doha. It is worth noting that while Pakistan is supposed to be crucial to peace in Afghanistan, and is accused of providing safe havens to anti-US forces, it is not part of any talks, which are being conducted by world powers with the Taliban. Nor is the Afghan government. A visit by Ashraf Ghani would thus represent the ‘excluded’ parties involved in this matter. However, before such a visit could take place, some of the more immediate issues between the two governments need to be resolved first.

These would not just be about evolving a common stance, but also about ensuring that such slip-ups as Prime Minister Khan’s ill-advised suggestion about an interim government in Afghanistan are not repeated. The Pakistan government has also got to disabuse the Afghan government of the nation that it controls the Taliban, and the Afghan government must also address the question of India’s role in Afghanistan, before an understanding can be evolved of how peace is to be brought to Afghanistan. It should be realised by all concerned that President Ghani’s visit will have a certain symbolic value, and thus it is only appropriate that it should be preceded by such visits. The Pakistan government must ensure that it resolves all the hot-button issues it has with its Afghan counterpart. Only then will it be possible for both governments to take their rightful place at the table.