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Pakistan Press ( 17 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press on Pakistan's Performance, West Asian Developments and Afghanistan: New Age Islam's Selection, 17 September 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

17 September 2020


·          Pakistan Either Ignores Whatever Is Said About Its Performance Or Denies The Very Basis Of The Criticism

By I.A. Rehman

·          The Fight for Equality

By Themrise Khan

·          Gaza In Quarantine

By Sahar Atrache

·          Democracy and Security Are Connected in West Asia

By Saad Hafiz

·          Afghans — Destined to Lose

By Imran Jan

·          Afghans Will Have to Unite to Live Peacefully

By Durdana Najam


Pakistan Either Ignores Whatever Is Said About Its Performance or Denies the Very Basis of The Criticism

By I.A. Rehman

17 Sep 2020

NO country likes to be told what is wrong with it but responsible states do not dismiss criticism without assessing the element of truth contained in adverse comments on their performance. Pakistan is not among such countries. It either ignores whatever is said about its performance by friend or foe or denies the very basis of the criticism.

Recently, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) asked Islamabad not to extend the tenure of its Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances (COIED) as it had failed to achieve its objective. Domestic opinion feels even more strongly about the futility of expecting this institution to deliver. Further, it generates a false impression that the needful is being done to deal with enforced disappearances and the people are prevented from demanding alternative institutions to address what undoubtedly is one of Pakistan’s most painful human rights challenges.

Now Human Rights Watch (HRW), the widely respected international monitor, has issued a statement Pakistan’s Hypocrisy on Press Freedom: Editor’s Jailing Shows Reality of Media Crackdown. It says “The NAB has been widely criticised as being used for political purposes and it’s evident that the charges against [Mir Shakil-ur-] Rehman were politically motivated. Rehman’s ordeal epitomises the fast-shrinking space for dissent and criticism in Pakistan.”

The statement adds: “In Pakistan arbitrary arrests and baseless criminal prosecutions are often used as instruments of press censorship. So long as Rahman and others in the media are punished for practising journalism, Prime Minister Khan’s statement that ‘I don’t mind criticism’ is not worth the paper it won’t be printed on.”

Any organisation urging Pakistan to solve the matter of enforced disappearances is acting as a friend.

Unfortunately, Islamabad’s attitude towards both the ICJ and HRW is characterised by crass opportunism. When these organisations assail Indian atrocities in held Kashmir it uses their observations as the most authoritative and objective denunciation of New Delhi’s perfidy. They are accepted as totally unbiased defenders of rule of law and unadulterated justice. But if they point to anything wrong in the policies or conduct of Pakistan they are accused of all possible biases. That this attitude needs to be corrected cannot be disputed.

Sometimes observations by international rights bodies are unwelcome for being at variance with the official narrative. But in case of one of the issues under discussion, namely, enforced disappearances, there is no permanent official narrative. The Supreme Court started hearing petitions for the recovery of victims of enforced disappearances in 2007. On its suggestion, a commission comprising three retired judges of high courts was set up in 2010 and it completed its report on the last day of the year. Despite persistent demand by civil society organisations the commission’s report has not been released, but one of its recommendations, that a commission be set up to recover the victims of enforced disappearance and pursue legal remedies, was accepted. This is how the present commission of inquiry was set up in 2011 and the Supreme Court stopped hearing cases of enforced disappearances.

Throughout the nine years of the COIED’s existence the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, ICJ and Pakistan’s rights organisations have been demanding its upgradation and the allocation of adequate resources to it. Now domestic as well as international opinion is calling for replacement of the useless commission with a genuine coin.

That this demand is wholly in Pakistan’s national interest is obvious. Enforced disappearance is a crime in international law and it should be so recognised by Pakistan’s Penal Code. Enforced disappearances have blighted the lives of thousands of families and alienated large communities from the state. Hence any organisation urging Pakistan to solve this matter is actually acting as its friend and deserves to be listened to with due respect.

However, replacement of the existing commission with a better one will solve only part of the problem. Equally important is the need to ratify the UN Convention for the prevention of enforced disappearances so as to bring Pakistan’s efforts to deal with the problem in line with the international campaign. It is also necessary to make a law that declares enforced disappearance a crime and provides for the punishment of culprits and for compensation to the victims. A bill to achieve this purpose was moved in the federal parliament in 2014. If the present government is not satisfied with this bill it may draft a new bill but doing nothing is no answer.

As regards the second issue, the complaint that the space for media freedom is shrinking is indeed contrary to the official narrative, which holds that the media is absolutely free. This matter can be resolved by examining evidence that the two sides can produce. If the media is a victim of official acts of omission and commission as is evident in the revival of press advice in an uglier form, in discrimination in the release of state advertisements and advice to advertisers not to give ads to certain newspapers, if free circulation of any newspaper is not allowed in certain areas, if journalists ‘disappear’, if the fact of thousands of media employees becoming jobless does not attract the attention of the government, then the official narrative has no leg to stand on.

It would be a great pity if in the 21st century journalists are expected to explain that encroaching on media freedom is contrary to the interests of the state and the people of Pakistan. Without a free and independent media there will be no countervailing force to prevent the people in command from dragging the state and the people into an abyss of ignominy and oblivion. Responsible societies value friends who point out their shortcomings. If Pakistan chooses any other course it cannot avoid paying the cost which might be unaffordable.

Tailpiece: The Lahore CCPO is being denounced for deviating from the dominant narrative about the motorway gang rape. But how many in the country’s male-dominated, patriarchal and woman-baiting society think otherwise? Besides, the official publicity for the affair and stories of police fumbling gleefully presented on the TV and demonisation of suspects are likely to boomerang on the inept authorities.


The Fight for Equality

By Themrise Khan

September 17, 2020

Can the current generation of Pakistani women achieve the impossible? Can they set Pakistan’s women free?

The women-led movement for justice, equality and rights, has had a long history in Pakistan. From pre-Partition women Muslim Leaguers fighting alongside Jinnah to realize an independent nation, free from British colonial rule, to the post-Partition formation of the All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA), to the relentless protests by the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) that were tear-gassed and baton-charged in the 1980s, the fight has come a long way.

But has it changed anything for women in Pakistan?

This is not a critique of the women’s rights movement, in any way. Nor is it disrespect or disregard for the struggle and sacrifice that thousands of women across the country have made for decades to ensure women have equal rights. We are where we are today because of these sacrifices.

But the truth is that where we are today is nowhere close to where we want to be, or more importantly, where we deserve to be.

Recent events have galvanized Pakistan’s women for all the right reasons. We as women – young, old, privileged, under-privileged – are at risk every day in Pakistan. In our families, in our workplaces, in our social environments. Even in our digital environments. We remain at risk with men in our lives and without them.

So what is missing in our struggle and sacrifices that over 70 years on, women in Pakistan still remain one of the most at-risk groups across the country? An at-risk group that comprises almost half of the total population and cuts across class, wealth and religious barriers. And a group that is in physical danger of its life, not just legally or socially.

Social movements that have led to structural and systemic change, today’s buzzwords, have been relentless in their cause. They have faced ostracization, vilification and even death in the face of resistance. But these sacrifices have often led to strengthening the movement rather than diminish its influence.

The role of female peasants in the Tehbaga uprising in 1940s Bengal, or the Abeokuta Women’s Tax Revolt in 1940s colonial Nigeria, and the Mexican Zapatista Movement in the 1990s, are only a few that come to mind. Movements that not just impacted laws and unjust practices against women, but also led to defining what a sustained and organized social movement could achieve.

Our very own struggles to push for the Muslim Family Law Ordinance in the 1960s and against the Hudood Ordinance in the 1980s are examples of sustained and powerful engagement with the establishment. Engagements that saw massive street protests, violence against women by law-enforcement and even imprisonment.

These were the movements that I grew up around and which influenced my life. A coming together of women from all walks of life, young and old, urban and rural, bound by one purpose and one purpose alone – to demand that they be given their due share.

But somewhere along the way, the movement lost steam and faded away. Even when we played host to the first female prime minister in the Muslim world. It remained in the shadows, but it was overwhelmed by a political storm. In my own profession as a development activist, it was hidden away under international donor fantasies of ‘empowerment’. I cannot help but correlate a decline in the rights and status of women during that time to what it is now.

The beginnings of the annual Aurat March in 2018, was meant to have been the tectonic shift in the progressive women’s movement in Pakistan. A phoenix rising from the ashes of patriarchy and political oppression. And to some extent it has been. Spawned by a new generation of Pakistani women who are technologically savvy, creative, self-aware and entrepreneurial, it has the makings of something better.

But it also has far, far more to fight for now, than we did 30 or 40 years ago. The extent to which women are now seen as mere objects that can be violated and ignored has grown manifold in this time. Where only streets were the location of dissent and disdain, now we have the workplace and digital realms as well. Where we had a more limited section of male society who were a threat to us, now it is society as a whole that is the threat, – both men and even women of all sorts.

Growing wealth and income inequality and overlapping beliefs between tradition and modernity are also impacting the fight. We can no longer assume that those who belong to the high end of the spectrum may be more tolerant, liberal and believing in equality. Or that those who fall at the bottom end of the spectrum are more conservative, rigid and rights-averse.

It is all this and more that this new generation of women have to fight against. And they can and they must. But the fight is also more fragmented. Because the things to fight for have become more fragmented. Provinces have drifted apart. Some worse off than others, making some women’s issues worse off (and possibly further away) than others. Twitter is the urban female activists’ best friend and enemy. Rural women barely have any platform at all, let alone access to the internet.

The fight is long and hard and the new generation is largely committed to it. But such fights need sustained momentum, sacrifices above and beyond what we can perhaps allow in our lives in this global age of capitalism and it must be relentless at all levels – public, private, online, offline. It cannot just be defined by the Aurat March. It has to be more. Much, much more. As the recent action taken by female journalists has been against their online vilification.

Mine and previous generations may not have been entirely successful in giving Pakistani women their due share. I can only hope this ‘naya’ generation of women is more successful. Naya Pakistan certainly hasn’t been very kind to us so far.

Themrise Khan is an independent specialist and researcher in international development, social policy and global migration.


Gaza In Quarantine

By Sahar Atrache

September 17, 2020

In late August, the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, found a foothold in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated territories in the World.

Since then, infections have spiked significantly, with nearly 1,000 new positive cases reported in the last two weeks alone.

Now, Gaza faces a health catastrophe that will be difficult to contain and mitigate without swift and significant aid.

The detection of community transmission in the Strip marked a grim turn in what had been a relatively successful prevention strategy. From the onset of the pandemic through much of August, fewer than 100 cases had been reported - all among travellers returning from Israel and Egypt and all of whom were systematically quarantined.

Gaza is particularly vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. Its weak healthcare system barely serves the daily needs of the area’s nearly 2 million people and is not equipped to handle a pandemic that has overwhelmed even the most advanced healthcare systems in the world.

That system has been debilitated by years of blockades, violence, and a dearth of funding. It suffers from ubiquitous shortages of drugs, equipment, supplies, and personnel.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that Gaza’s hospitals can handle only 350 Covid-19 patients. But with more than 1,200 cases already, the virus will likely sicken thousands of people. And with fewer than 100 ICU beds and even fewer ventilators, Covid-19 could push Gaza’s healthcare system over the brink.

To make matters worse, the pandemic comes against the backdrop of renewed violence and access restrictions. In August, during a three-week escalation between Israel and Hamas, Israel tightened the blockade, banning the entry of construction materials and fuel to Gaza, which has forced the enclave’s only power plant to shut down. By early September, the Strip regained calm after a successful – yet likely temporary – Qatari-led de-escalation agreement. Still, the Qatari mediation does not lessen the effects of Gaza’s blockade, nor will it prevent a future outburst of violence.

All this is taking place in communities reeling under the weight of a decade-long humanitarian crisis - triggered by 13 years of blockades with varying degrees of restriction and periodic war.

There is a real risk that Gaza cannot withstand the economic shockwaves of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 80 percent of people in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid to survive, and the long-term socioeconomic repercussions of a months-long lockdown could be devastating. Thousands of Gazans have already completely or partially lost their income, which has exacerbated a high unemployment rate estimated at more than 50 percent prior to the Coronavirus.

A chronic shortage of humanitarian funding for Gaza, exacerbated by major recent cuts in US funding, has made the delivery of even the most basic services a challenge. The Trump administration’s 2018 decision to end US funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was and remains deeply problematic.

Now, more than ever, this policy needs to be reversed. The virus knows no borders, and this is no time to politicise aid. Quite the contrary, in the face of the worst pandemic the world has experienced in more than a century, global efforts should come together to mitigate these risks worldwide.

Amid lockdowns and a blockade, Gazans now face a ‘quarantine within a quarantine’. It took only a few cases for the virus to spread quickly inside the Strip. At the very least, the terms of the blockade need to be revised to help the population cope with the pandemic and the area’s long-term humanitarian crisis.

Israel should commit to ensuring that the blockade is not used as a form of collective punishment against the Palestinians living in Gaza. At the minimum, Israel should allow construction material or goods aimed at humanitarian aid, development projects, or the health sector to enter the territory. It also should refrain from banning fuel – a basic and critical commodity.

International donors – including the US – must increase their support to help Gaza through the worst of the outbreak. They should immediately provide medical equipment including ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing kits.

In March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire to focus on “the true [Covid-19] fight of our lives”. This call is true in Gaza today more than ever.

Excerpted from: ‘Gaza’s ‘quarantine within a quarantine’ must end’


Democracy and Security Are Connected in West Asia

By Saad Hafiz

SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

The Israeli-UAE normalization agreement is an optimistic sign of old animosity between Israel and Arab states dissipating. Significantly, the deal comes decades after a similar thaw between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. The reality is that the Israeli-UAE breakthrough, followed by Bahrain, is part of a trend where authoritarian Arab regimes choose self-preservation over any pretensions to support Palestinian rights.

The truth is, Israel, one of the region’s few democracies, is making a peace deal with yet another authoritarian Arab state. Ironically, Israel is finding it expedient to support authoritarian rulers in the Middle East, like its patron the United States.

For their part, Arab rulers look to Israel for protection against the twin threats of radical Islam and Iran. But in the absence of a true partnership between Jews and Arabs, peace strategies built on coercion and deterrence are unlikely to have a long-term future.

Historically, external support for democracy and human rights in the Middle East has taken a back-seat to support dictators in the name of stability and peace. This myopic policy has contributed to the fact that democracy is near non-existent in the region. As a result, the Middle East is littered with authoritarian states or equally authoritarian regimes and entities with democratic or radical guise.

With their autonomy and dignity restored, the Palestinian people must aim to build a democratic state in contrast to the authoritarian states in much of the Arab and Muslim worlds

It is hard to gauge public opinion on Israeli recognition because of the tight controls on the media and political activity in most Arab states. But the reluctance of pivotal Saudi Arabia to follow the UAE suggests that other countries will want to proceed cautiously. The rulers perhaps fear domestic unrest, knowing that public opinion doesn’t support ties with Israel without progress on the Palestinian issue.

So far, there is little evidence that the Arab public at large has developed warm feelings for Israelis or that the “psychological barrier” of Palestine that has long impeded ties between Israelis and Arabs is fading. Although genuine steps towards peace in the Middle East are welcome, just reduced hostility between Israel and Arab governments is not enough.

Despite reports of secret negotiations with Israel, other countries widely rumored to jump on the peace bandwagon have not followed the UAE. For the moment, Saudi Arabia and Oman have publicly expressed their continued support for a two-state solution, as a pre-condition to normalizing ties with Israel.

Nevertheless, as more Arab countries signal that they are ready to live with Israel’s occupation of Palestine, it reduces the options for the Palestinians. Unlike the past two Israeli-Arab peace agreements, the UAE deal doesn’t offer any succor to the Palestinians.

The 1978 Israeli-Egypt agreements and the 1994 Israeli-Jordan at least demanded an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the formation of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza, leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.

In fact, Israel paid a low price for the UAE relationship by agreeing to defer its threat to annex more West Bank territory. The muted reaction from governments in the region confirms a long-known fact that no Arab country is prepared to confront Israel for the sake of the beleaguered Palestinians.

But other than helping President Donald Trump’s re-election chances, providing a distraction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption charges, and opening doors for UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to buy more sophisticated US weapons, it is unclear how the Israeli-UAE deal is the blueprint for lasting peace in the Middle East.

The hard facts are that the Israel-UAE deal will increase divisions among Arab and Muslim states. Israel will continue to pound the Palestinians for perceived transgressions as the two sides are too far apart to start a meaningful dialogue. And despite governmental moves towards peace, generations of Arabs and Muslims brought up on questioning Israel’s legitimacy and seeing endless Palestinian suffering are even less likely to wholeheartedly back the normalization of relations.

The only way forward lies in political compromise and dropping maximalist demands. For instance, with security guarantees, Israel should agree to a viable Palestinian state. With their autonomy and dignity restored, the Palestinian people must aim to build a democratic state in contrast to the authoritarian states in much of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

A tall order indeed, but until then, the prospects for lasting peace in the Middle East seems a distant dream.

Saad Hafiz is an analyst and commentator on politics, peace, and security issues. He can be reached at


Afghans — Destined to Lose

By Imran Jan

September 17, 2020

In Charsadda, I always saw Afghan men selling deliciously baked naan (bread) and freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. After customers would consume the juice, the Afghan vendors would clean the empty glass in a bucket full of water hanging by the cart. It wasn’t the most hygienic practice but we enjoyed the juice. Back then, we drank water directly from a hose. There was not much fear in society.

Some of us used to tease them by calling them Afghani and Kabuli to remind them how it was a badge of ridicule to be an Afghani mohajir. One day, one of them said he didn’t mind being called an Afghani. He told me I should always call him by that name, just not for the sake of ridiculing. His only problem with that name was the intention behind it. He was proud of his identity.

He told me he used to belong to a very noble family of Kabul where they had great respect owing to their strong roots going back centuries. All had been toppled with the 1979 Soviet invasion, and then whatever was left, was gone with the 2001 US invasion. They were not roadside vendors and scavengers in their country but conditions compelled them to take up any work. Their fault was their geography and that they focused more on their culture and identity than the ability to manufacture lethal weapons. Afghanistan has been a battleground for decades only because they have been militarily defenseless.

When the Soviets invaded, too many respectful and honourable Afghans ended up as refugees around the world. The brave Afghan men fought hard and liberated their land — an example of such an insurgency is hard to find. It’s in Pashtun blood. Afghans are wired to fight but destined to lose.

When the war ended and the Soviets withdrew, many around the world benefited. Many ex-Soviet states were liberated and became sovereign states. Germany became one after both its halves were unified. America became the sole superpower, feeling proud of its might and victory. Pakistan became a nuclear state during that war, only unofficially. One nation got misery and degradation: Afghanistan.

Warlords became the new owners of the country, each laying claim to their own territory. Mayhem, bloodshed, and injustice became the new face of Afghanistan. To fight the injustice, the Taliban movement was born. Afghanistan became an assembly line for exporting radicalism globally. Today, peace is being negotiated between the Taliban and Kabul in Doha. Peace this time has a serious chance. But again, there are gainers and losers in this. America will get what it wanted: the end of its longest war. America is ending the war because it’s hurting America not because it feels for the countless innocent Afghan deaths. More importantly, America is controlling this withdrawal’s meaning.

Once again, the transition of power is going to be with the blessing of Washington DC. But what do we have for the losers? Afghanistan’s longest war may not end soon. Afghans do not control the meaning of this deal and their country’s future. Another wave of violence and bloodshed will soon be unleashed after the peace is executed, which is ironic. This peace would yield its waste (violence) before any produce: a peaceful and developing Afghanistan.

But the future could be alarming. The peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban were supposed to happen within 10 days after the US-Taliban signed a deal in February. It, however, took six months. In a post-US withdrawal Afghanistan, a Kabul aided by India would create tantrums over every little and big issue. At worst, a nuclear standoff between Pakistan and India is not unthinkable. Afghans would lose again because when elephants fight, it’s the grass that is trampled.


Afghans Will Have to Unite To Live Peacefully

By Durdana Najam

September 17, 2020

Afghanistan cannot reform unless its citizens own the country in a manner that they condemn disunity among varying tribes and clans. It is because of the Afghans rather than of the US that the country has been falling from one crisis to another with an almost complete erasure of civic sanity and rule of law. Every time there is a friction among Afghans, a vacuum is left to take advantage of by foreign elements. It is to close these gaps that the inter-Afghan dialogue takes precedence among the three points on the agenda upon which the US and the Afghan Taliban have agreed to end the war. Unless this seed of discord is sorted out, all other imperatives such as the withdrawal of US-led forces, disallowing Afghan soil from being used for terrorism, and a complete ceasefire would elude the peace process, long before it bears fruit.

When the US left Afghanistan in 1989, which the former now confesses to being a hasty decision, the latter fell into an unending spiral of ethnic violence that eventually put the Taliban in the saddle. From 1992 to 1996, during the Battle of Kabul, as the fight came to be known, the city was torn apart with incessant bombardment from the heavily armed foreign backed forces. It was not until eyes were cast on a lone unified group, the Taliban, who had a formula composed in Sharia to put together the withering Afghans, that the fires and brimstones fell silent. Hardly had the country settled that a forced compliance with religious norms and values, as interpreted by the Taliban, made life difficult and almost suffocating, for women especially. Education was reformed and made incompatible with the modern technological syllabus of the 21st century. As the social environment struggled to breathe, the country plunged into a new wave of extremism that eventually earned the wrath of the US wounded after 9/11. Although not a single Afghan was involved in the massacre, the very reason that Afghanistan was fanning terrorism and extremism, the plea had been generated successfully to bomb it to extinction. The Taliban were dethroned and the US-led NATO forces occupied the country.

Ironically enough, if the Taliban were unable to unite or develop Afghanistan, the US-led Western forces despite all the wealth and technology at their disposal failed in this regard, even after staying there for almost two decades. In fact, it was under their nose that corruption in Afghanistan got embedded in the system. Today, the economy is burdened with drug money and state institutions are structured on an extractive system of governance that benefits the elite only. The ruling elite of the existing Unity government and before that the government under Hamid Karzai had enjoyed influence and control limited only to their palaces and a few urban cities. The rest, almost 70% of Afghanistan, has fallen into the hands of the Taliban.

That makes unity among the political rivals in Afghanistan extremely important.

It is in this backdrop that Pakistan has hosted the summits of Afghan leaders from different political leanings in June 2019.

Though there was a long list of issues for discussion, one overriding message the conference intended to give was the undeniable composition of Afghanistan’s political landscape comprising representation from diverse ethnic groups. In attendance were Afghan leaders such as Gulbadin Hekmatyar of the Hezb-e-Islami political party; Karim Khalili of the Hizb-e-Wahdat party, the representative of ethnic Hazaras; Atta Muhammad Noor, an ethnic Tajik from Jamiat-e-Islami; Fouzia Kofi, politician and women’s rights activist; Ismail Khan, the warlord; and many others. To exhibit Pakistan’s neutrality and to show that it has no favourites, neither the Taliban nor anyone from the government were invited to attend the conference.

The Lahore Process, as the conference was called, emphasised, besides other things, the importance of an inter-Afghan coordination for any meaningful conclusion of the conflict in their country.

The Taliban had been loath to recognise the Afghan government. For them the power lies with the US and had been insisting to talk to them only. However, after a long persuasion, sanity finally dawned on them leading to an inter-Afghan dialogue in Doha.

Defence experts see Ashraf Ghani getting increasingly irrelevant in Afghanistan’s power equation, and do not see his space in the future political dispensation of the country. Ghani in collusion with India had tried to derail the US-Taliban peace agreement, but Trump’s unwavering resolve to come out of Afghanistan failed them. And in spite of Pakistan’s diminishing influence on the Taliban, the latter had been instrumental in removing communication barriers among them and the US.

To make the inter-Afghan dialogue successful, all the forces within Afghanistan have to shed their tribal and ethnic egocentrism. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, once floated the idea of putting a national government to facilitate peace, but Ghani dismissed the idea.

For long the Afghans have been accusing Pakistan of interfering in the latter’s domestic politics. There could be a reality to this accusation, but the onus of this sin is to be equally shared by the Afghan leadership who had been orchestrating India’s influence in their country in the manner of a power-sharing arrangement. While it meant India’s presence on both the eastern and the western borders, it also meant stretching Pakistan’s military resources to an extent that it might have crumbled under its own weight.

Pakistan’s military under the new leadership is clear about exercising a non-interference policy in Afghanistan. Pakistan has successfully defeated terrorism on its soil and would not allow it to return from its source in Afghanistan. The Afghan government and its stakeholders would have to craft policies that unite rather than divide regional politics. India’s desire to proxy Afghanistan for its regional domination cannot be allowed to materialise.

If the Afghans are serious about bringing their country out of the four decades of quagmire, and putting it on the path of progress, they should not mind losing personal clout for the collective good. It indeed would be an acid test.



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