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Editorial: Peace talks in Pakistan: A major breakthrough

Murree, Pakistan’s lush green city, made headlines in the national and international media as the recent venue for peace negotiations between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban. Though, President Ashraf Ghani has been facing a hurricane of criticism at home for enlisting Pakistan’s help to bring the Taliban to the negotiations, but perhaps at the extreme of the criticism, this meeting is a turning point. Now the hurricane will recede a little bit, but from the words of Dawood Kalakani, a member of the Parliament from Kabul, who vented his pessimism over the talks and the role of Pakistan, it looks as if still too many people are pessimist. Though, all those who attended the first ever face to face peace talks, from the government side, expressed their optimism. However, here is Kalakani. He alleged that this is just a gimmick, and Pakistan wants to provide the Taliban with an opportunity to seize more and more villages and districts, in order to give them an upper hand in the talks. According to him Pakistan has been playing a double game as on one side it has been supporting reconciliation process while on the other hand it has equipping the Taliban with weapons besides training and sheltering them. Now that the peace negotiations are passing through an embryonic phase, criticism perhaps wouldn’t yield the desired results. Pragmatism tells us that we must wait at least for one year, as the US is also here until 2016 and regional alliances are also in the making. Russia has been vowing to support Afghanistan. China has been providing support as it cannot see Afghanistan sliding back into 1990s. India is also standing the course firmly. And Pakistan has been also pledging to support the reconciliation process. For the first time, Islamabad warned the Taliban to shun violence. And for the first time, Pakistan hosted the peace talks. Therefore, the shrewd but at the same time a harsh critic of Pakistan, the ex-President Hamid Karzai appreciated the start of the round of peace talks in Pakistan. He called the negotiations a step towards bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. The talks ended with both sides agreeing to meet against after Eid. The talks have been held in such a time when the relations of the two neighboring nations were to fall steeply.  The acrimonious encounters between Afghanistan and Pakistan suggest no easy possibility of rapprochement, but the two must bury their differences for the sake of political expediency. Will Pakistan ever bear a destabilized country on its western side? Particular when a new threat, Daesh has been on the rise?  This matter has made home in the minds of the civilian political leadership. What is the demand of the day is Pakistan’s top military brass must also realize that a destabilized Afghanistan never serves Pakistan’s objectives in a better way than a politically stable Afghanistan. In Pakistan, whoever thinks that a destabilized Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s favor, they live in an extreme illusion. Policymakers in the regional capital cities must think of shared objectives and trade ties, then see how miracles happen. But unfortunately, the region has been home to political differences, which have given nothing to the peoples living in the region but deaths and destruction. They must know that rapprochement of peoples is possible only when differences—political cultural, religious, and outlook, are respected rather than being depicted as threats, and when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as an essential bond for a peaceful world, then nothing could deter the region from its peace objectives. This round of talk is particularly different than those held in the past because this time, the representatives of China and the United States were observers of the dialogue session. Now that China is scaling up its role, confidence is building in Afghanistan that the peace talks will be a success as Pakistan cannot deceive China as it has been deceiving the US.

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