Supporting Afghan Taliban could be counterproductive, seminar says – Pakistan

LAHORE: The more Pakistan favors the Afghan Taliban, the stronger the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and other banned groups become. And Pakistan’s support for the Kabul regime does nothing to help the Afghan people.

Speakers said it bluntly during a session titled “Chaos in Afghanistan and Speaking to Banned Organizations” at the Asma Jahangir conference on Saturday.

The context of the ongoing talks between Islamabad and the TTP and a recent deal with the TLP drew an enthusiastic crowd to the session. The public was interested to learn more about the experience of Afghans during their talks with the Taliban in Doha.

Moderator Ahmed Rashid opened the discussion by announcing that Pakistan had refused visas to some Afghans who had been invited to the conference as participants and panelists. The panel included Nader Nadery (member of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan peace negotiation team); Abdullah Khenjani, former Afghan deputy minister; and Lotfullah Najafizada (director of Afghanistan’s Tolo News). They were able to attend the conference because they had obtained visas before the fall of Kabul in August.

President says Afghanistan is the only country without a law and without a proper system of governance

Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak, MP Mohsin Dawar and Samina Ahmed (Project Director for South Asia and Senior Advisor for Asia at the International Crisis Group) were also on the panel.

Mr. Najafizada blamed a “collective failure” for what happened recently in Afghanistan. In a very calculated tone, he said the Taliban and the world need to talk about the future, rather than the failure of previous governments.

He said the Taliban should understand that they are running a different Afghanistan than in 2001. As the Afghans are now more connected, the Taliban should be mature and learn to accept disagreement and hatred of states. -Unis could not put food on the table.

He was optimistic about the capabilities of the Afghans and said the country could go in any direction in the post-American era.

Mr. Nadery recalled the flaws in the Doha peace talks and referred to four factors explaining the current chaos in Afghanistan: the US policy of exiting the country was wrong; the talks were simply a public relations exercise where the Taliban had no intention of reaching a settlement; the failure of the Ghanaian government to build institutions; and Pakistan’s emphasis on defeating Indian policies in the neighboring country rather than serving the interests of the Afghans.

The Afghan regime must adopt a political system in order to be part of the “ruling world” and Pakistan must push the authorities in Kabul to do so.

Mr. Khenjani said the Taliban were trying to hold the Afghans hostage in order to pressure the world to accept them. Instead, he said, they should realize that they were the rulers of Afghanistan and should focus on delivery.

Mr. Khattak said the Taliban knew how to reward their commanders but not how to work for the people. He said Afghanistan was the only country without a law and a proper government system, and the only country to be labeled a fenced-in prison after Pakistan installed barbed wire on its western borders.

He said Afghan policy issues were decided by someone other than the prime minister. Pakistan had to stop supporting the Afghan Taliban if it wanted to defeat the TTP.

He believed that the Afghan Taliban and the TTP were two sides of the same coin. Likewise, the TLP and the TTP had the common agenda of “political Islam”, which made them allies.

MP Dawar condemned the denial of visas to Afghan guests and said Pakistan was open to people like [acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir] Muttaqi, but not to real Afghans. He said all those who played a role in the downfall of the previous Afghan government would soon regret their decision.

Posted in Dawn, le 21 November 2021

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