Pakistan is set to host prominent Afghan political leaders at a conference aimed to speed up the peace process. Pakistan will host a moot in an effort to restore peace in the war-ravaged nation as the Taliban advance and the US withdrawal nears completion.
Pakistan is now taking diplomatic initiatives to play a greater role after the Taliban made rapid advances and have captured several districts. The Afghan Taliban are literally at Pakistan’s border. They seized the Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing, hurled their flag, shutting down trade between the two countries. The deteriorating security situation has fueled fears of a full-blown civil war which could enable other terror groups to other both countries and beyond.
Although the dates for the conference are not finalized, the objectives must be clear. Islamabad wants to hold the meeting as peace talks between the government and Taliban have not seen any success for months. Many senior Afghan leaders, who are been invited to the meeting, are also travelling to Doha to discuss ways to advance the peace process.
Regional countries including Pakistan are worried about the worsening situation in Afghanistan and are collectively making efforts to make warring Afghan parties reach a political settlement to prevent the situation from getting out of control. Pakistan has been engaged with all stakeholders and is making efforts but it cannot prescribe a solution for Afghanistan. That responsibility certainly lies with the Afghans themselves.
The peace process would be more challenging if the conflict escalates. There is also the apprehension of mass movements or influx of refugees into neighbouring countries. The Taliban have captured border crossing even with Iran and Tajikistan and ordinary Afghans have no place to escape Taliban brutalities. Despite the adverse situation, there is still optimism that a political settlement could be reached among Afghan parties.
Pakistan played a key role in arranging and facilitating the US-Taliban deal. Now Pakistan is once again expected to use its influence on Afghan sides. It seems an uphill task given that the Taliban are rapidly advancing and could recapture the country anytime soon