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Pakistan must avoid being seen as providing accompaniment to Taliban regime It should enhance regional connectivity to avoid proxy war in Afghanistan


ISLAMABAD—-Pakistan must avoid being seen as providing accompaniment to the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan and instead should focus establishing neighbourly relations with the war-torn country.

The country needs to continue contributing to its efforts aimed at bringing peace and providing humanitarian assistance to the land-locked Afghanistan. At the same time, it must establish friendly relations and extend cooperation with its neighbours including China, Iran, and India to avoid any proxy war in Afghanistan, “which will certainly hurt Pakistan the most.”

These are the key findings of the First Quarterly Monitoring Report “Perspectives from Pakistan on Afghan Peace and Reconciliation” released by Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) here on Sunday.

The report that covers a period of July to September 2021 has recorded responses from Pakistan including its government, political parties, religious organizations and media on the Afghan situation weeks before and after the seizure of power by Taliban. The report has been prepared on the basis of daily monitoring of Pakistan’s national and social media, international media, and in-depth interviews with politicians, academics, and experts on Afghan issue.

Pakistan ought to adopt a more careful approach towards Afghanistan as the situation in the neighbouring country since change of regime in Kabul has opened a Pandora’s box of strategic and security concerns for it, the research study underlines.

The report warns that Pakistan will be the first country “where inflation and food prices could pick up” further if any humanitarian crisis happened in its western neighbour Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has welcomed the new regime in Kabul but Pakistan may not be the first country to recognize the Taliban government because some potential political risks and security threats are attached with such a decision, it says.

After Taliban toppled the Western-backed government in Kabul in the middle of August, some government functionaries in Pakistan described it as “a victory for Pakistan and defeat of India.”

The country’s religious-political parties and religious organizations also followed the suit and strongly welcomed and praised the Taliban for their “so-called victory.” But mainstream political parties exercised some caution pointing out the possible fall out of Afghan situation on Pakistan and demanded of the government to initiate a debate in the Parliament.

Pakistan has supported an inclusive government in Afghanistan but it has shown its principal concern that Taliban should not allow the Afghan soil to be used against it for terrorism. The country has been urging the international community to engage with the Taliban to avoid humanitarian crises, governance collapse as well as a civil war in already war-torn country, the research report says.

The country’s military leadership views that peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan are interlinked and has been giving the warning shots that spoilers will not be allowed to derail the peace process.

The reports and commentaries of Pakistan media suggest said that the Taliban takeover has alleviated fears of Pakistan about Indian use of Afghan soil to create trouble in its bordering provinces.

Before and after the takeover of Kabul, social media platforms in the country appeared rife with allegations and counter-allegations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The report says that Pakistan during this political turmoil has repeatedly refused to allow any further resettlement of Afghan refugees in the country due to its economic, security and political challenges.

Pakistan is confident that it can deal with the possible fallout of the Afghan situation in terms of insecurity and violence, the research quoting independent observers says. This confidence is based on “a weak threat assessment,” it adds.

PIPS research suggests that Pakistan’s options to deal with a possible fallout of the Afghan situation should also include to activate the parliamentary and political action to step up effective implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism, and to establish friendly relations with its neighbours.

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