US President Joe Biden has announced that all US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year. Pakistan is also closely monitoring this development. Pakistan is one of the countries that could be most affected by this decision.
Pakistan says the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan must be linked to the peace process.
Islamabad has played a vital role in facilitating the Afghan peace process and welcomed the US announcement, saying that Pakistan supports a principled decision in which the military, in cooperation with its stakeholders in Afghanistan, the evacuation will be done responsibly.
Pakistan hopes the United States will convince Afghan leaders how a political solution is possible in the country.
Over the years, Pakistan has played a quiet but essential role in persuading the Taliban to sit down with the Afghan government and other stakeholders. According to experts, inter-Afghan talks would not have been possible without the full support of Islamabad.
In December 2018, Pakistan helped pave the way for direct talks between Washington and the Taliban and then reached a historic peace agreement between the two sides in Doha.
In July 2015, the first direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place in Islamabad with the help of Pakistan. The peace process then stalled when the Taliban announced the death of their leader, Mullah Omar. This led to an internal power struggle within the Taliban.
On several occasions, US officials have praised Pakistan’s role. They know that now that Washington and its allies are withdrawing from Afghanistan, Pakistan will be crucial to sustaining the effects of the 20-year war.
About 10 trillion and more than 2,300 American lives have been lost in this war. There is no way to repair this damage.
The mantra of Do More:
In his announcement, President Biden said the United States would “hold the Taliban accountable” for its promise to stop international jihadist organizations in Afghanistan. “We have asked other countries in the region, especially Pakistan, to do more to help Afghanistan,” he said.
However, the term “do more” is not popular with the people of Pakistan and the establishment because they believe that the country has already lost 73,000 lives in this global war on terror.
At present, Islamabad is trying to maintain the ongoing peace efforts and achieve more. “Pakistan has repeatedly stated that peace and stability in Afghanistan are in our interest,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. We will continue to work with the international community to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. “
According to Ahmed Sheikh, an expert on Afghan affairs, the United States has violated its agreement with the Taliban and delayed the withdrawal of troops by four months. This time, “Do More” means that Pakistan should ensure the participation of the Taliban in the Turkey-hosted Afghanistan Peace Summit.
According to Turkish officials, the purpose of the meeting is to immediately begin post-war recovery efforts to find a possible political solution.
The Taliban are currently unhappy with the US violation of the agreement and have not announced their participation in the summit.
According to analysts and senior journalists like Akmal Sumro, the United States wants Pakistan to use its influence with the Taliban to agree to a new date for US withdrawal, thus ensuring that inter-Afghan talks do not fail.
“Now the Taliban can set their conditions for attending the intra-Afghan summit in Turkey. They can press for the release of prisoners and the removal of their leaders from the blacklist.
Nevertheless, the United States believes that Islamabad can bring them back to the negotiating table.
However, TechBuraq believes that Pakistan alone cannot ensure that. This is everyone’s responsibility, and all countries involved have a role to play.
According to techBuraq, Pakistan no longer has as much influence over the Taliban as in the past. The Taliban have also changed their strategy: they are moving diplomatically, they have established contacts with many countries, and now they have a political office in Qatar.
It is felt that it is no longer correct to assume that Pakistan is the only country responsible for putting pressure on the Taliban.
“Pakistan also has some concerns over the situation in Afghanistan, and Islamabad wants the international community, including the United States, to address these concerns.
Pakistan wants the land of Afghanistan not to be used against Pakistan. India’s influence needs to be curtailed, and the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees in the country must be included in the talks.
It is a Hard time for Afghanistan:
Since the United States has spoken of an unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan, analysts believe that the benefits of inter-Afghan talks could be minimal in this situation.
Many fear that civil war could break out again in the country and that the Taliban could seize areas with little strength. He fears the Taliban could re-establish their rule in Afghanistan.
When the Taliban announced the formation of their government in Afghanistan in 1996, Pakistan was one of the three countries that recognized the government.
But now the situation is different. Pakistan has openly stated that it does not support the idea of the Taliban regaining power in Kabul. This statement did not please the Taliban.
Analyst Ali Raza Rehmani says Pakistan is going through a difficult time with the unconditional withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan.
He says the Kabul government does not trust Pakistan and blames Islamabad for its failure. On the other hand, Washington recognizes Pakistan’s role in the current peace process but still does not fully trust the country, and the Taliban are no longer as close to Pakistan as they once were. Pakistan is in a difficult situation.
The refugee crisis in this region:
Over the past four decades, Pakistan has accommodated millions of Afghan refugees in the country. These refugees are not limited to camps but are spread across the country, studying and doing business.
Pakistan wants the international community to take responsibility and ensure that the return of refugees is also discussed in discussions for the country’s future.
On the announcement of the US withdrawal, the State Department said that “Pakistan considers the timely return of refugees to be important for peace and stability efforts in Afghanistan.”
However, according to Rehmani, the failure of inter-Afghan talks on the withdrawal of foreign forces could increase violence in the country. There is a strong possibility that Pakistan could face many Afghan refugees in the near future.
“Pakistan is working for the peace process because peace and stability in Afghanistan are in its interest,” he said. But instead of finding a way out on this issue, the best strategy would be to reach out to countries like China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran.