Warning the world that a hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan will be unwise, Prime Minister Imran Khan said abandoning the Afghan peace process for any reason would be “a great travesty”.
This was stated by the premier in an opinion piece he wrote for The Washington Post on Saturday wherein he spoke about the casualties of war suffered by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“With the exception of the resilient Afghans themselves, no people have paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than the people of Pakistan. Through decades of conflict, Pakistan has dealt with the responsibility of taking care of more than 4 million Afghan refugees,” wrote PM Imran.
The prime minister talked about how the war in Afghanistan disrupted Pakistan’s economic trajectory and radicalised fringes of the country’s society. “The Pakistan I had known growing up in the 1960s and 1970s changed in some deeply unsettling ways,” he stated.
PM Imran wrote about how lasting peace in Afghanistan could only be achieved by an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, adding that the world had learned of how “peace and political stability in Afghanistan could not be imposed from the outside through the use of force”.
“The path we have traveled to get here wasn’t easy, but we were able to press on thanks to the courage and flexibility that were on display from all sides. The United States and its allies facilitated the prisoner exchange between Kabul and the Taliban. The government of Afghanistan and the Taliban responded to the Afghan people’s yearning for peace,” he stated, referring to Pakistan’s efforts for the peace process.
He warned that the intra-Afghan peace talks — that aim to find a political solution to the existing conflict — is likely to be even more difficult but the world should not give up on prospects of peace in Afghanistan.
PM Imran stated categorically that “a bloodless deadlock on the negotiating table is infinitely better than a bloody stalemate on the battlefield”, calling on all parties who have invested in peace in Afghanistan to resist the temptation for settling unrealistic timelines.
Referring to India, the prime minister warned the world that it should be careful of regional spoilers “who are not invested in peace and see instability in Afghanistan as advantageous for their own geopolitical ends”.
He said that like the US, Pakistan did not want to see Islamabad turn into a sanctuary for international terrorists ever again. He stated that attacks by terrorists had been launched from Afghanistan that targeted Pakistan, calling on Kabul to take measures to ensure it does not happen again.
“Since 9/11, more than 80,000 Pakistani security personnel and civilians have laid down their lives in perhaps the largest and most successful fight against terrorism. But Pakistan continues to be the target of attacks launched by externally enabled terrorist groups based in Afghanistan.
“These terrorist groups pose a clear and present danger to global peace. We hope the Afghan government will take measures to control ungoverned spaces inside its territory from where terrorist groups are able to plan and carry out attacks against the Afghan people, the international coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan, and other countries in the region, including Pakistan. Like the United States, we do not want the blood and treasure we have shed in the war against terrorism to be in vain,” he wrote.