IPRI – Islamabad Policy Research Institute

Key Takeaways – Afghan Peace Prospects Post US Withdrawal

  1. The US strategic interests in post withdrawal phase emanate from its China containment policy and a desire to retain leverage with competing factions in Afghanistan to deny space for economic expansion to its competitors.
  2. After withdrawal, the US would like to keep a very strong intelligence presence to monitor not only Afghanistan but Pakistan, China, Iran and Central Asian Republics (CARs) also.
  3. The arming of competing factions in Afghanistan by USA might prolong the internecine conflict instead of shortening it. That scenario does not redound to the advantage of Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran. The spillover of chaos from Afghanistan in Pakistan might not be deemed deleterious for USA’s strategic interests but it would certainly be harmful for regional countries.
  4. The chaos in Afghanistan might deny USA’s adversaries like China the fruits of peace, stability and connectivity. The same would deny Pakistan the geoeconomics space to embrace new development and connectivity centered economic security paradigm.
  5. The regional countries like China, Iran, Russia, CARs and Pakistan might establish a common security outlook to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan as each regional country is desirous of peace unlike extra regional global powers.
  6. Pakistan needs to resolve its internal security and governance issues to prepare for likely fallout of post US withdrawal development in Afghanistan. The societal and political rifts along with economic weaknesses need to be addressed to create national resilience for fallout management.
  7. There is need to eschew loudspeaker diplomacy concerning Afghan situation and Pak-US relations. Conclusive statements about desired outcomes in Afghanistan might alienate some Afghan factions. A studied silence followed by discrete tacit linkages with factions in Afghanistan should be the right approach.
  8. The disaffection in restive tribal areas that could be exploited by hostile external forces needs to be addressed through political engagement and administrative cum economic reforms in those areas. The movements like PTM should be deftly engaged through experts who understand local culture and psychology. The lead role in reconciliatory efforts and ameliorating remedies to be assigned to experts instead of law enforcement agencies.
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