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Proscribed TTP has become a spoiler in Pak-Afghan relations

Islamabad— Pakistan needs complete reorientation of its policy towards Afghanistan in the wake of growing threats of terrorism in the country after banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) called off ceasefire it had agreed to with the government earlier this year.

These views were expressed by experts here on Monday at a consultation on “Afghan peace and reconciliation; Pakistan’s interests and policy options” organized by Islamabad-based think tank Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).

Academics, retired military officials, former diplomats, journalists and other experts on security, and Pak-Afghan affairs participated in the discussion. The main themes of the consultation, which is 6th one in a series of discussions organized by PIPS on the Afghan peace process, include “Emerging Afghan situation and its interface with the countries near and beyond” and “A review of emerging Pak-Afghan relations.”

The specialists also emphasized that civil and military leadership, political parties, bureaucracy and ulema should be on the same page to tackle the threat, with the warning that a new wave of terrorism can trigger in the country.

Former National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua taking part in the discussion said that TTP had become a spoiler in Pak-Afghan relations. He added that Pakistan required reorientation of its policy towards the Taliban regime in Kabul. “Pakistan’s relations with Kabul are likely to come under stress and we have to manage it.”

Mirwais Yasini, former first deputy speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament, contended that corruption had relatively decreased, and law and order situation had improved under the Taliban rule but the system was not properly working, which has become a major challenge. He further said that Pakistan’s military establishment, politicians, bureaucracy, and ulema should be on the same page to tackle the crisis emerging out of Afghanistan.

Former Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi remarked that Pakistan should rectify its flawed decision making system. He said that this has to be understood which unhidden forces were behind the still unsettled issue of Afghanistan. “The problem of Afghanistan has political, social, economic, and military dimensions,” he said, adding that only the establishment couldn’t handle it. He also called for regularizing movement on Pak-Afghan border.

Defence analyst Major General (retd) Inam Ul Haque said that Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan had been affecting continuously due to the presence of TTP on the latter’s soil. He said that Pakistan should talk with the ideologue group present in the ranks of Taliban to force the militant group to lay down its arms.

Former Ambassador Muhammad Ayaz Wazir also endorsed the view point of other participants that Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan could not improve until its civilian government and military establishment come on the same page with regard to Afghan policy.

Central Secretary General Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) Maulana Yousuf Shah said that the proscribed TTP was ready for holding peace talks with Pakistan. He added that problems with Pakistan was that its political parties and military establishment were not on the same page on this issue.  Maulana Abdul Qadir Luni, head of JUI-Nazriyati, Balochistan, maintained that dialogue with the militant group was the only way to find a solution to the problem.

Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak concluded the discussion by saying that Pakistan should make a critical review of its 40-year-old Afghan policy. “The issue of terrorism also needed to be reviewed to face the emerging challenges in this connection.” He also suggested that Pakistan should formulate a new Afghan policy that should focus on making good relations with the Afghan state, and its people.

Earlier, Director PIPS Muhammad Amir Rana in his welcome note said that the purpose of the consultation was to take a review of the Pak-Afghan relations in the face of increasing terrorist activities of TTP in Pakistan.