Pakistan and Afghanistan share not only a linked past but also a future which has economic potential to connect to markets of Europe, Africa and rest of Asia. Both have the potential to become trade and economic hubs of the world, said Lieutenant General (retired) Nasser Khan Janjua, National Security Advisor. He said nobody has ever invested in peace in the region and that Pakistan will support any effort of peace process, which would be Afghan lead and Afghan owned. Peace is a dividend for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the region and the world. The two countries being an economic hub will multiply the economies of the world, he added.
National Security Advisor said this while speaking at a special seminar titled “Peace- a dividend for development and stability in Afghanistan”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the National Security Division of Pakistan at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS).
Speaking at the occasion, Lieutenant General (retired) Nasser Khan Janjua said Afghanistan is the heart of the Asian region and if there is peace in the heart only then there would be prosperity and stability in the region. “Unfortunately, children of Afghanistan have seen nothing but war since 1979, whereas Pakistan, after Afghanistan, is the most affected country hit by instability and insurgencies”, he added. He said the people of Pakistan wanted to see Afghanistan as peaceful, prosperous and stable country.
Nasser said CPEC is only half of the dream of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Afghanistan is next half of the dream by connecting whole central Asia and Europe. He said Pakistan is the only country that can multiply the regional economies; and Pakistan needs to work beyond CPEC and connect the whole world. Pakistan has successfully fought insurgencies and militancy through Zarb-e-Azb and there is dire need to consolidate on this success, he added.
Speaking earlier, Dr Abid QaiyumSuleri, Executive Director SDPI, said CPEC would remain a mere road and rail link unless there is peace on the borders especially on the borders with Afghanistan and India. He said peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in favor of the region. Role of China is of great importance amid environment of mistrust. China will soon become an economic common denominator in the region and China’s investment in the region would in turn bring more prosperity once peace prevails.
Imtiaz Gul Senior Analyst on the occasion said until we engage with Afghanistan out of the present obsolete Planning Commission Regime and create a whole-of-government approach through singlewindow joint civil-military mechanism, dividends of peace will keep eluding us. The civil and military bureaucracy shall have to prioritize economic and human development as the means to survival as selfrespecting nation instead of always looking beyond borders for help and sustenance. He said there is a need for smart solutions to deal with Afghanistan to bring about peace and stability in the region.
Ambassador (retired) Rustam Shah Mohmand, Former Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan said, unwillingness of US to clearly tell its objectives in Afghanistan, lack of interest and commitment of incumbent government to peace initiatives (status quo) and inability of Afghan Taliban to become a political force are the three major obstacles to peace in Afghanistan. He said no country would gain from the instability in Afghanistan; and no country would suffer if there is stability in the region. As long as there is presence of the US army, there cannot be peace in Afghanistan, he added. He further opined that there should be a broad based multiethnic government in Afghanistan, including Taliban, which is the only sure guaranty for peace and stability there. Pakistan must include this in to its foreign policy formulation. China’s role as mediator must be permanently supported and proposed by Islamabad, he added.
Syed Iftikhar Hussain Babar, Secretary National Security Division, said to bring peace in Afghanistan is of paramount importance and priority of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Seventeen years of war in Afghanistan caused a loss of billions of dollars to the economy of Pakistan. He said Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process is Pakistan’s priority and that overlapping regional connectivity cannot be achieved and be successful without peace in Afghanistan.
Contributed by Arslan Khalid
The writer is Associate Editor of Mélange Intl. Magazine & The Asian Telegraph & degree holder in Communication & Media Studies