Pakistan needs to set its Afghan policy beyond security: Experts


Pakistan needs to re­orient its relations with Af­ghanistan beyond security perspective to bridge the widening mistrust between the two countries both at the state and people-to-people levels experts said yesterday. They suggested that Pakistan needed to abandon its approach of conditioning the promotion of trade activities between the two neighbours with the resolution of security issues because this scheme would prove counterproductive. The experts expressed these views a consulta­tion on “Afghan peace and reconciliation; Pakistan’s interests and policy op­tions” organized by Islam­abad-based think tank Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS). The representatives of political parties, former diplomats, academics, re­tired military officials, jour­nalists among other experts on Pak-Afghan affairs both from Afghanistan and Paki­stan participated in the dis­cussion. The main themes of the consultation, which is the 7th one in a series of discussions organized by PIPS on the Afghan peace process, include “Emerging Pak-Afghan relations; chal­lenges and way forward” and “Emerging Afghan situ­ation and its interface with the countries near and be­yond.” The discussants were of the view that Pakistan’s parliament should take a lead in devising any policy for Afghanistan. They said that Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan was larger than counterterrorism and security and it should see it in a bigger picture. They also urged the need for a soft management of Pak-Afghan border to remove hurdles in trade activities and movement of people between both the countries. Former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal in his concluding remarks said Pakistan un­fortunately sees Afghanistan as a potential threat for it. The notion was not based on facts, he added. He argued that Pakistan should not make conditional promotion of trade with Afghanistan with the resolution of secu­rity and border issues and think beyond it.