Pakistan's role in peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan
In this journey of 72 years Pakistan has witnessed several ups and downs. The country was beset with several challenges, which it coped with successfully.
Pakistan occupies a crucial strategic location, straddling south and Central Asia. The region has been gripped by the geopolitical fault lines shaped by the Cold War and then the war against terrorism.
Consequently, Pakistan faced geographical pressures on its borders, starting with India and lately compounded on the frontiers with Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Afghanistan found themselves embroiled in the middle of these global events.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share geographic proximity, ethnic ties, religious affiliation and lingual affinity. The bond of brotherhood between the two countries dates back centuries.
Because they share a strong shared past, so both countries can foster a bright future in the spirit of mutual accommodation and shared legacy.
It is for this reason that Pakistan always wants peace to prevail in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, a landlocked country, has been suffering from internal fissures and external pressures for the last two centuries.
But this state of affairs has worsened in the last five decades due to tectonic shifts in global politics and an unstable regional milieu.
Unfortunately, Afghanistan has been at the receiving end of the stick due to its peculiar internal situation and external geopolitical shocks.
Pakistan, being a neighbouring country, was not immune to the goings-on in its next-door neighbour. Therefore, a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in the national interest of Pakistan’s existence.
During the 1980s, when Afghanistan was bearing the brunt of a Soviet invasion, there were some 3 million Afghan refugees fleeing to Pakistan.
Pakistan has been willingly and generously hosting and helping these Afghan refugees.
After 9/11, Afghanistan had to undergo another cycle of domestic violence by the miscreants abusing the name of Islam.
Ever since Afghanistan has been in search of elusive peace and tranquillity. Pakistan is making all endeavours to help Afghanistan achieve lasting peace and stability.
The current peace talks facilitated by the US, Russia, China and other regional countries focus on bridging the gulf between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The role of Pakistan has been acknowledged by all the facilitating countries as crucial to bringing the internecine conflict to an end.
Pakistan has undertaken a broad array of measures to help all Afghan sides to come closer to reach a durable peace settlement.
On this count Pakistan invariably believes and promotes the idea and process of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. Its role is largely that of a facilitator, where it can rely on the influence it enjoys with the conflicting sides.
Peace in Afghanistan is also crucial for the regional peace in south and Central Asia. Peace in one country in this era of globalisation and regionalism does have salutary effects across the region.
The scholars of peace and conflict studies term this phenomenon the “peace dividend”.
Pakistan also strongly believes in regional peace, as it can unleash a potential for development and prosperity. and it is for this reason that the current prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has asked India to initiate a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue to resolve the 70-year-old Kashmir dispute, which is the single main political impediment towards achieving the goals and aims of peace and normalisation of relationships with India.
During a recent high-level meeting, US President Donald Trump offered to mediate between Pakistan and India to find a solution for the Kashmir Issue.
Like Palestine, Kashmir is a serious human rights violation issue linked to the self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
Despite India’s hesitancy, Pakistan is open to the US mediation or any other third party arbitration and mediation to settle the issue. Mediation and arbitration are accepted and practised mechanisms of conflict resolution.
Johan Galtung, one of the seminal thinkers in the field of peace and conflict, once stated: “Peace is like light, intangible but discernible either by its absence or by its sporadic and often startling appearances like a flash of lightning against a black sky.”
The people of Afghanistan yearn for this light of peace and the people of Pakistan are more than willing to share this light with them.
* Khan is the ambassador of Pakistan in South Africa.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.