News / Asia

Opponents of US-Afghan Security Pact Outline Post-War Vision

Afghanistan's former Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahamdzai, right, talks with an Afghan delegate as Ghairat Baheer, center, head of political cell Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan listens during a conference title 'Peace and Reconciliation in Afghanistan', in Islamabad, Pakistan, Jan. 28, 2014.
Afghanistan's former Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahamdzai, right, talks with an Afghan delegate as Ghairat Baheer, center, head of political cell Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan listens during a conference title 'Peace and Reconciliation in Afghanistan', in Islamabad, Pakistan, Jan. 28, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
— After more than 12 years of war, Afghanistan faces a pivotal year as foreign troops prepare to leave. Both supporters and critics of the U.S. presence worry the conflict could worsen in the years ahead, similar to the civil war that engulfed the country following the 1989 departure of Soviet forces.   In Islamabad this week, a group of Afghan and Pakistani elders and militant leaders discussed how to avoid that fate.  
 
The gathering in the heart of the Pakistani capital brought together a group largely opposed to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. They included Taliban-allied militant groups, political representatives as well as Pakistani religious parties.
 
Many like the spokesman for the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, Shahzada Shahid, recognize some of the gains Afghanistan has made, and do not want to lose them.
 
He said, “the fact is that Afghanistan is not Afghanistan of 12 years ago. Let me tell you that in a very small border town of Kunar [province] we have 500 schools. Similarly, we have almost complete network of paved roads, a state structure in place, we have our own currency, trade.”
 
He said the group does not want to discard those resources after foreign troops leave.
 
Most of those gathered oppose keeping any foreign troops in Afghanistan after 2014.  But they also are of the opinion that civil war is preventable in the post-withdrawal period.  
 
Many here like former Afghan Prime Minister, Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, believe a key to post-war peace is the complete departure of foreign troops.
 
“The foreign forces must withdraw -- no option of being in Afghanistan because we strongly believe as far as the ISAF and American forces are in Afghanistan there will no peace at all. Afghans who are real, sincere followers of jihad they are fighting the invaders those who have invaded our country. Americans, they are the occupiers. This is wrong that they have come to promote democracy and justice and so on. These are all wrong slogans,” said Ahmadzai.
 
Many observers worry that democratic values and support for women’s rights could erode in the coming years. As the country tries to discuss peace with insurgent groups, negotiators are working with people like Ghariat Baheer, spokesman for the Taliban-ally Hizb-e-Islami, who see echoes of the Soviet defeat in the planned U.S. departure.
 
“We support the courageous Afghan president and we pray that he will stick to this principle stand and will avoid signing this BSA accord with the U.S. I am advising my Afghan countrymen as well not to beg for the stay of the Americans in Afghanistan. The Americans have not come to Afghanistan at the invitation of Afghans and they are not leaving Afghanistan at the request of Afghans but they are leaving Afghanistan because of the tough resistance of Afghan mujahideen,” stated Baheer.
 
While such sentiments are widely shared by the Taliban and their allies, there is also broad recognition that Pakistan, where many Taliban top leaders allegedly live, plays a key role in determining Kabul’s future.
 
Shahid of the High Peace Council said in fact the fate of both countries rests on finding a resolution to the Afghan conflict.
 
“Prime Minister [Nawaz] Sharif has promised his people that he will solve the power and economic problems and will bring peace to Pakistan,” he said. “He can achieve these three objectives only when there is peace in Afghanistan. If there is no peace in Afghanistan, perhaps Mr. Sharif may not be able to live up to the expectations of his people.”
 
Pakistani veteran politician Afrasiyab Khattak has long criticized Islamabad’s policy towards Kabul, particularly its military’s ties to warring Afghan factions like the Taliban.
 
He said that Pakistan, Afghanistan as well as the United States need to coordinate their efforts or Afghanistan could repeat its devastating civil war of the 1990s.
 
“Last time when Afghanistan got chaotic it became the hub of international terrorism. This time around there is a real threat of Afghanistan becoming an origin of ethnic earthquakes and these earthquakes can spread in the region like cancer and Pakistan will be affected by it very, very fundamentality. So, I think it is in our best interest to help in stabilizing Afghanistan and befriending Afghanistan not a party, not a group, not a particular school of thought,” Khattak said.
 
Such a broad minded attitude toward Afghanistan’s future would mark a significant break for governments, political parties and insurgent groups who have long focused on advancing more narrow agendas. But because many now recognize that Pakistan’s fate is intertwined with its neighbor’s, there is hope that shared interests in peace will bridge longstanding divisions.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Asif Luqman Qazi from: Islamabad
February 01, 2014 7:46 AM
Well, the conference that you mentioned in this story, titled "Peace and Reconciliation in Afghanistan", was attended by various schools of thought. It will not be fair to caption it as a gathering of pro-Taliban elements. Representatives from the Afghan government and liberal political parties of Pakistan spoke on this occasion. The party that could not attend was Taliban themselves, due to legal restrictions in Pakistan. It is up to the international community to think how to make Taliban part of such a dialogue process, even if it is initiated by a civil society organisation. If they will not be part of the dialogue process, peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan will remain wishful thinking.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid