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Editorial: Resolving issues with neighbors

The Afghan peace process is on an upward trajectory in terms of progress and is inching the country closer to peace and stability. Invalidated speculations are floating that say the long-awaited intra-Afghan talks between the government and the Taliban would be held by the end of this month at the earliest. Both sides have separately expressed their readiness to engage in direct peace talks and, the US envoy for peace Zalmay Khalilzad is also said to be discussing the venue and time of the intra-Afghan negotiations with Taliban’s representatives in Doha. Meanwhile, the prisoner swap process has been carried out to a great extent and the all-Afghan dialogue is now expected to be held virtually due to the coronavirus outbreak. Amid all these developments, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit. The impromptu foray tied to the efforts of bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Afghan government is the first-ever high-ranking Pakistani officials’ visit in months, and that too ahead of the intra-Afghan talks. Bajwa called peace in Afghanistan to the benefit of the region and the world while reiterating Pakistan’s cooperation in this regard. Although these sentiments and remarks by the neighboring country invite praise, the crucial aspect is walking the talk. There is no doubt left now that the insurgency in Afghanistan was supported and fueled by Pakistan. Now that the country received credit for supposedly pressuring the Taliban to agree to peace, all the cards have been laid on the table. The key matter now is compelling the country to implement whatever it claims to believe and work for regarding Afghan peace. The recent visit and remarks is hopefully not yet another tactic of just paying lip service to the peace effort in Afghanistan. At this juncture, as the intra-Afghan talks are supposed to be held very shortly, Afghanistan also needs to resolve issues with Pakistan. The instability and war in Afghanistan haven’t been only due to the insurgency and the US presence but our neighboring countries have been the main stimulants by adding fuel to the flames. Therefore, there should be some sort of mechanism put in place for the post-intra-Afghan talks’ period in order to hammer out differences and issues with Pakistan as well – and other neighbors or regional countries for that matter. Only then would Afghanistan experience stability in true meanings; otherwise, the emergence of new spoilers, malicious and terrorist organizations such as the Hezb-i-Walayt – which is a case in point – would continue to wreak havoc in Afghanistan and peace would elude the country.

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