INTERVIEW
 
Afghanistan Stability Must for Regional Peace
The News International
4 November 2010
ISLAMABAD: The participants of an interactive workshop titled ‘Pakistan-Russia Collaboration and the Afghan Crisis,’ have termed stability and peace in Afghanistan imperative for regional and global peace. The workshop, held here on November 3, was organised by South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) in order to analyse various dynamics of the conflict in the region and to deliberate on possible ways forward.

In her welcome address during the first inaugural session of the workshop, SASSI head Dr Maria Sultan said the conflict between Soviet Union and Afghanistan stands replaced by a desire of friendship between a new emerging Afghanistan and revamped Russia. She said that Pakistan and Russia were no longer locked in proxy wars forced upon them by circumstances and by their individual friends with conflicting interests. “We are indeed conscious of the fact that the process of dialogue and introspection requires far more fortitude, courage and patience than that required in waging wars or resisting their established status quo,” she added.

In his keynote address, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan said since the democratic government came to the power over two years ago, Pakistan had transformed its relation with Afghanistan. “Being contiguous, Pakistan has also suffered the most on account of instability in Afghanistan. Pakistan therefore has keen interest in early restoration of stability and peace in Afghanistan,’ he said.

On the occasion, the Russian ambassador to Pakistan, Andrey Budnik, said the issue of instability in Afghanistan having an impact on both the countries. “We are faced with a common problem, which long ago turned into an international one. And it would probably be unfair to put a burden of its settlement solely on one or another regional or external player,” he said.

The ambassador also said that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan living in harmony with its neighbours, free from terrorism, extremism and drugs, was an essential condition for national and international security.

During the second session of the workshop, titled ‘Political Security Assessment of the Afghan Conflict: Issues and Definitional Paradox,’ Russian expert Col Kulakov gave a detailed presentation on ‘Politico-Military Dynamics of the Afghan Conflict: A Russian Perspective’. Then, Masood-ur-Rehman Khattak, a Research Fellow at SASSI, critically analysed the US military strategy in Afghanistan, arguing that Pakistan has paid a huge price in war against terror in the form of cross border militancy, drug trafficking, instability and turmoil, suicide attacks, illicit refuges, drone strikes, IDPs, fragile economy and radicalisation.

During the third session, ‘The Afghan Impasse: Internal and External Dynamics,’ another SASSI fellow Jawad Aziz began by highlighting the possible solutions to the problem of drugs trafficking from Afghanistan to Central Asia and Russia.

“Corruption, cross border lucrative trade mechanism in the form of reaching Central Asian states, Pakistan, Iran and China and beyond, lesser effort of Afghanistan government to stop drug trafficking across the border and absence of counter drug trafficking policy in the counter terrorism are major factors, which should be addressed in regional security and stability paradigm,” he argued.

Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad, an Associate Professor International Relations at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, talked about ‘Pakistan’s Possible Role as Energy Corridor’ during the fourth session titled ‘Reconciliation -The Political Framework: Role of Regional/Extra Regional Forces’.

He said that it was due to its unparalleled geo-political and geo-economic significance in South, West and Central Asia that Pakistan was qualified to be an energy corridor for regional states and beyond. Dr Ahmad also pointed out that, among others, the continuing rivalry with India and unabated insecurity in Afghanistan are two major factors that have so far impeded the emergence of such energy corridor in the region.

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