Research for one of the segments I helped produce during my time at PTV World News, an international news network.
“Pakistan says it looks forward to meaningful engagement with Afghanistan to address the challenge of terrorism,” said Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz.
The struggle for peace has become as aged as 16-year-old Afghan conflict itself.
The United Nations General Assembly called for a political settlement to the conflict in January 1980, based on the widespread agreement over the importance of peace in Afghanistan. It remains to be finalized.
Closely following the cessation of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2014, the administration in Kabul is quickly losing power resulting in an increase of Taliban’s control. Other terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS) are also creating a significant footprint.
In July 2016, due to deteriorating security conditions, the United States maintained a force of 8,400 troops in Afghanistan and continues to finance Afghan security forces at an estimated $4 billion a year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that President Trump discussed increasing military presence in Afghanistan with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Afghans hope that Trump will strengthen the relationship of the United States and the Afghan government against the Taliban.
Sherjan Ahmadzai, director of the Afghanistan Study Center at the University of Nebraska, told VOA that Afghanistan’s strategic location in the heart of Asia is important because it’s “the only country in the region that is friendly towards the United States and is willing to host U.S. forces.”
“Imperial wars are by design waged to benefit one country over the other – in the case of Afghanistan, 70% of the country’s GDP comes from foreign aid, this creates a curious power dynamic whereby the state answers first not to the Afghan people, but to the funders who keep them in business,” said Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting journalist May Jeong. “In this sense you could call Afghanistan a kind of rentier state, even.”
Islamabad’s strong influence over the Afghan Taliban will play a vital role in combating terrorism in Afghanistan
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that Pakistan supports an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. Use of force has not brought peace to the country for 16 years, so alternative methods need to be attempted.
He confirmed that Pakistan is not harboring any terrorists and will continue to conduct operations to combat terrorism. Operation Zarb-e-Azb proved the strength of Pakistan’s army in counterterrorism and kinetic warfare.
Pakistan has been one of the main proponents of peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
Pakistan attempted to setup peace talks between the Taliban and the first elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai which proved unsuccessful.
The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) was later formed by Pakistan, the United States, China and Afghanistan to get regional countries to bring the Taliban to attend peace talks but has failed to yield any positive results.
In 2015, a meeting in Murree, Pakistan, attended by top Taliban leaders and Afghan government ministers, brought hope of potential resolution. However, the Taliban refused to attend future meetings after their leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a drone attack.
Despite successive failures, Pakistan continues to explore solutions for the conflict in Afghanistan as chaos in Kabul has a direct effect in Pakistan.
In December 2015, a trilateral talk was held between Pakistan, Russia and China in Moscow to discuss the situation. It worried Afghan officials, however, that they were being sidelined in negotiations about the country’s future.
According to VOA, Head of the Center on International Cooperation at NYU Barnett Rubin said that Russia will soon host peace talks involving China, Pakistan, India, Iran and Afghanistan, but the invitation has not included the United States. Some experts say that the Taliban has to be a player in the peace process to avoid failure.