The day-long visit of PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan to Kabul on Thursday came at a time when a question mark is hanging over the Afghan peace process and the US is in the midst of a presidential transition. The latter development needs to be taken into account because it remains to be seen how the Afghanistan file is treated by the Biden White House, primarily the core issue of the withdrawal of foreign troops from the region.
The truth is that for the past few decades, the Pak-Afghan bilateral relations have been seen through the prism of the Afghan internal war, so any change in links is related to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The meetings between Mr. Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani remained cordial, and both leaders affirmed their pledge to peace and improved their bilateral ties. “Mr Khan offered the full support of this country when he told the Afghan side that if “Pakistan can help, let us know please.
In order to strengthen bilateral ties as well as stability in the region, engagement at the highest level between Islamabad and Kabul is necessary. Spoilers have too much attempted to push a wedge between the two capitals, which has kept the partnership from expanding to its full potential. In addition, inside the Kabul establishment, there are forces who have not lost any respect for Pakistan, and are actively blaming this country for the internal troubles of Afghanistan.
Though it is possible that Pakistan has some influence with the Afghan Taliban, it is unwarranted to blame this country alone for the problems of Afghanistan. The nation was ravaged by decades of intervention by external forces, including the superpowers of the day in its internal affairs, as well as by the inability of the Afghan political and tribal leaders to embrace each other. If the partnership is to move forward, however both Islamabad and Kabul must develop confidence; it will help minimise frequent exchanges between the respective leaderships.
As part of the Afghan peace talks, Donald Trump declared a new withdrawal of US troops in his final few months in the White House. While those in the American establishment, as well as NATO, have opposed the change, the world will have to wait before Joe Biden assumes the US presidency to see what direction Washington will take towards Afghanistan. Mr. Biden said he, too, supports the evacuation of forces, but needs to proceed more slowly. For the Afghan peace process, this is also a crucial moment.
The peace agreement the US negotiated with the Afghan Taliban in February may influence every significant difference in American policy, and a disorderly withdrawal of foreign forces may plunge Afghanistan back into civil war. International forces, mainly America, must ensure that the withdrawal is orderly, while Afghan stakeholders, particularly the government and the Taliban, must make greater efforts to achieve an internal peace agreement.