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Symbolic gestures shouldn’t dominate quadrilateral meeting

“This quadrilateral meeting is the only hope. If it was unsuccessful, the hopes will dash to the ground. Once this happens, these global and regional players could not win trust of Afghans again. Trust of the war-weary nation is already at sub-zero level. The hope that is flowering after the news of this meeting shall not die. Let this flower blossom because opportunities seldom knock at the door and never return once gone.”

By Mansoor Faizy: The resumption of comprehensive peace talks with the Taliban is certainly a positive development. But it remains to be seen whether the quadrilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China that set for January 16 can produce tangible results on this critical issue. Does it provide ground for the four states to move beyond symbolic gestures and put their weight behind Afghan-owned peace process? Afghanistan always stand prepare to hold talks with Pakistan on terrorism but the latter’s dual policy consider to be the core issue remained a major stumbling block in the resumption of peace talks. But this time there has been a sharp change as the United States and China put itself in the quadrilateral meeting, expecting to take place soon. The leaders would work to make a roadmap on how to resume peace talks between Afghan government and the Taliban. Though the first round of face-to-face peace talks with Taliban was held in Pakistan in July, but soon stalled when the Taliban revealed the death report of their prolonged leader, Mullah Omar. And soon after concealing talks, the militants conduct a huge series of terrorist attacks in Kabul, leaving scours of Afghans killed and wounded.

The government was left with no option but to trigger the gun of criticism toward Pakistan and blamed it for the attacks. Since that relations between the two countries remained strained. But when President Ashraf Ghani was in Paris to attend the UN Climate Chang Conference, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on him and it was the first icebreaker meeting between the two leaders aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. Furthermore, when Pakistani Army Chief Military Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Kabul on December 27, he called on President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. They shed lights on resumption of peace talks. Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to hold talks with those Taliban who are willing to join the peace process. They also agreed to take action against those who oppose the reconciliation process and shed blood of innocent people.

What promised by Pakistani official is not surprising as they always worked against it. It showed interest to bring Taliban at the table of talks but as usual didn’t restrain from playing dual game and always stabbed Afghanistan on the back.

A number of Afghan officials believe that Pakistan had never been honest in its approach to the peace talks. But fortunately this time it is different. Afghans pin hopes at the quadrilateral meeting as the US and China are taking active part in it. And there is no denying to the fact that China has great influence over Pakistan and may strive hard to end up the meeting with some good news as China is also considered as a time-tested friend of Afghanistan. We should not turn blind eye to the fact that the US could play a significant role in bringing the Taliban to the platform of talks. In its direct war on terror, it is responsibility of the American authorities to deal with growing insurgency in Afghanistan and provide a window of opportunity to the insurgent group and the Afghan government to reconcile. Since it’s a direct war of the US after 9/11 incident, therefore, it is duty of the US to adopt sincere efforts in fight against militancy. What Afghans exactly want is that the four countries should go beyond symbolic gestures and work indefatigably to put an end to violence germinated by the Taliban as Afghan masses has been bearing the brunt of civilian casualties more than any other nation in this so-called war against terrorism.

The growing distance between Islamabad and Kabul shall serve as a wakeup call for Pakistan. The fire that is razing Afghan homes to the ground had already stretched to Pakistan. It will engulf thousands of people if it was not extinguished. To extinguish it, Islamabad needs to remain sincere and committed. To keep pace with the modern world, the eastern neighboring country should concentrate on geo-economy and regional integration rather than building military muscles or pursuing the obsolete policy of the “strategic depth”.

This quadrilateral meeting is the only hope. If it was unsuccessful, the hopes will dash to the ground. Once this happens, these global and regional players could not win trust of Afghans again. Trust of the war-weary nation is already at sub-zero level. The hope that is flowering after the news of this meeting shall not die. Let this flower blossom because opportunities seldom knock at the door and never return once gone.

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