The Lahore Center for Peace Research (LCPR) and  Burki Institute of Public Policy (BIPP) organized a roundtable session on Afghanistan on Friday, the 30th of March. The event was co-chaired by Mr. Shahid Javed Burki, Chairman BIPP and Ambassador Shamshad Ahmad Khan  Former Foreign Secretary and Chairman LCPR. Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad Chowdhury, Former Foreign Minister of Bangladesh and currently Principal Research Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore. 

The participants discussed the fallout of US’ military-heavy strategy in Afghanistan, the role of Pakistan and the overall geopolitical dynamics in the region. They contended: 

  • Pakistan has direct stakes in Afghan peace. The continuation of the conflict is not in Pakistan’s interest.
  • We have always been ready to play our role in promoting genuine Afghan peace. We would like to see a stable, independent and united Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and with all its neighbours.
  • In July 2015, we were able to host the first round of talks between the Afghan Government and Taliban in Murree. There were forces however in the region which subverted the dialogue process.
  • President Trump has recently been giving conflicting signals. His spokesmen have been talking of negotiated settlement as well as a military option in the same breath.
  • Pakistan welcomed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s initiative of 28 February offering talks with Taliban and starting a new chapter in relations with Pakistan.
  • In reality, however, everyone knows that it is Washington, not Taliban, which holds the key for any opening in the Afghan logjam. 

On its part, Pakistan is committed to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and would continue to play its role to achieve this objective. Durable peace in Afghanistan will remain elusive as long as Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns in the region remain unaddressed.