Former ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan, Rustam Shah Mohmand has said that Pakistan should review its India-centric policies in order to seek peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Speaking at a seminar on ‘The Afghanistan conflict: emerging dynamics and impact on Pakistan’, at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Wednesday evening, Mohmand said that only the foreign forces are to be blamed for the ongoing 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
He asked: “What has the war delivered? No country in the world would suffer as much from Afghanistan’s instability as Pakistan. And no country in the world would gain as much from Afghanistan’s stability as Pakistan,” the former ambassador said.
Mohmand’s remarks came amid reports whereby Pakistan had rejected Afghanistan’s request of using its territory for trade with India.
The ex-ambassador added that if Pakistan had allowed the trade to happen then both India and Afghanistan would have depended on Pakistan. But now India and Afghanistan were forced to look for other ways. In addition, Pakistan’s decision has also hampered trade with Afghanistan, he added.
The ex-ambassador further argued that the US” decision to pull out its troops from Afghanistan is a “good gesture” as the people have become sick of fighting. But the move triggers many unanswered questions, such as who will take over the governance system in the country, whether there would be a ceasefire between the Afghan forces and the Taliban and on what terms would the Taliban be mainstreamed?
He also pointed out various obstacles in the way of achieving a solution to the conflict. He noted that the Kabul government had always wanted the Taliban to come to them, however, the latter refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the government.
Mohmand said that for the last few years Russia, China and Iran had forged relations with the Taliban. They feared that with the withdrawal of external forces there would be anarchy in Afghanistan, the rise of Daesh and uncontrolled production of drugs.
The ex-ambassador stated that Pakistan has been handicapped due to various power centres which act simultaneously in the country, causing ambiguity in its policies.
“So you are more focused on restricting India’s role and less on seeking peace in Afghanistan. The Afghans get annoyed. Pakistan is justified in demanding that Afghanistan’s soil must not be allowed to be used against Pakistan but beyond that India is one of the biggest donors [to Afghanistan] and is a regional power,” Mohmand was quoted as saying.
Mohmand said Pakistan and India should work jointly on projects inside Afghanistan for the benefit of both countries. “The India-centric approach will have to be reviewed because it doesn’t deliver much,” he said.
Foreign players, including the United States and Russia, recently have been trying hard to mediate talks between Kabul government and the Taliban to achieve peace in the region.
Despite the efforts, the Taliban last week announced the beginning of its annual spring offensive, aiming to “eradicate occupation” and “cleanse Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption”.