Event Organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute
IPRI Webinar Series — New Government in Afghanistan: Prospects of Peace and Stability
As part of its Afghanistan series, the Islamabad Policy Research Institute conducted a webinar on the ‘Prospects of peace and stability’ in the landlocked country. The distinguished speakers were Ambassador Riaz Muhammad Khan, former foreign secretary; Zahid Hussain, senior journalist; Brig. Saad Mohammad, political analyst, and Juma Khan Sufi, anchor and professor. IPRI’s Acting President Brig, (retd) Raashid Wali Janjua and Senior Research Fellow, Ambassador Asif Durrani supplemented the though-process with their expert input.
Amb. Riaz observed that the biggest challenge for Taliban is to avert another civil war, and called upon the great powers to engage with the new dispensation. He regretted that despite a peaceful transition in Afghanistan, perhaps for the first time in history, Taliban were never appreciated. He also pointed out that the Taliban figures who were proactive in Doha talk’s process have been side-lined, and this will be detrimental in the long run. He remarked that instead of coercion and sanctions, there should be purposeful engagement with new regime, and the country’s frozen assets of $9 billion should be released forthwith. He hoped that China’s role is of crucial importance in building the war-torn economy.
Senior journalist Zahid Hussain appreciated the phenomenon of peaceful takeover by Taliban, and said that the biggest challenge is to transform from an insurgent group to a responsible leadership. He pointed out that at least 14 members of the new cabinet are from the previous dispensation. The phenomenon of Kandahar and Haqqani network is overwhelming, and will not go well with the West. He said the feeling is that hardliners are calling the shots, and the need for Afghanistan is an inclusive government.
Brig. Saad remarked that for a second time an Islamic Emirate has been established by Taliban, and this raises many of questions. He blamed the outgoing president Ashraf Ghani for the mess, and observed that Taliban’s victory is owing to the meltdown of Ghani’s armed forces who were not paid for months and were run out of ammunition. He hoped that Taliban will walk the talk, and deliver on the pledges of security and openness. He expressed his concern over the dilapidated and understaffed health sector, and warned of a humanitarian crisis.
Juma Khan Sufi said that while economy remains a biggest challenge, Taliban can do well by broadening their base and including non-Taliban members in cabinet.
The speakers felt that Afghanistan should be treated as a state and low profile diplomacy will work. They advised Pakistan not to claim credit for Taliban’s victory, as that would be self-defeating. It was also resolved that Taliban should be debriefed in a proper manner so that issues of peace and security, including return of refugees in Pakistan, are realised in a prospective manner.