Fri, 21 Jun 2019

London [UK], Sep 26 (ANI): A London-based think tank recently concluded that the primary hindrance for peace in Afghanistan is Pakistan.

Speaking at a seminar organised by The Democracy Forum (TDF), titled 'Afghanistan-the Challenges Ahead' on September 13, Lord Bruce, the President of the TDF said that Afghanistan's unique set of challenges reflects and reinforces the circumstances of its historical geography.

Bruce emphasised that the Durand Line is a source of tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and felt that despite continuing problems, the recent ceasefire and the US mission to Doha will instill some hope for a negotiated settlement.

Afghanistan's Ambassador Tayeb Said Jawad appreciated western countries for their help in Afghanistan and underscored that a practical strategic approach to peace in Afghanistan was vital, adding that there was a need to engage. Once the process began, Jawad opined that there would be rapid progress.

Meanwhile, Emily Winterbotham, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, stated that the recent escalation of attacks in Afghanistan suggested that there were no signs of the military campaign stopping.

She also mentioned Pakistan as a major obstacle to peace in Afghanistan due to its role in the conflicts, and described Pakistan's approach in Afghanistan as unpredictable. According to her, the only positive development in Afghanistan was the consensus shifting to the need to talk between the US and the Taliban.

Christine Fair, another speaker, said that while she supports the US' decision to suspend aids to Islamabad, she also feared that Pakistan may cut off ground line of communications or use of airspace for the US , used to supply Afghanistan's national security forces. She also mentioned that Pakistan

had disallowed Afghanistan port facilities, thereby hindering movement of goods through Pakistani territories.

She was also very critical about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and said it was fomenting corruption.

Another speaker - Dr Antonio Giustozzi, a visiting professor at King's College in London felt that the peace process in Afghanistan was complicated and unlikely to come through diplomatic processes led by the US. He cautioned that not only the Taliban, but the interest of other vested groups needed to be secured for the resolution of the Afghanistan problem.

Questions were raised on the role of India and Pakistan in Afghanistan, to which Winterbotham opined that Pakistan would not be happy with a peace process that would not allow it to have a strategic depth in Afghanistan.

Similarly, Fair stated that she had only contempt for those who respected the role of the Pakistan Army in geo-political affairs, as professional armies did not wage coups or run countries behind the scenes. A heated discussion also ensued when a member of the audience accused Pakistan of being responsible for thousands of murders in the country through its support to the Haqqani and other terrorist groups.

The seminar was held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London. (ANI)

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