Ghani’s participation in conference seen as a success
KABUL (Pajhwok): Political analysts view the two-day Heart of Asia Conference -- a regional initiative to stabilise Afghanistan -- was a success. The ministerial meeting in Islamabad concluded on Wednesday.
Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE are part of the initiative launched in 2011.
The 14 countries have been pursuing confidence-building measures since 2013 in areas of disaster management, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, trade and investment, regional infrastructure and education.
On the sidelines of the conference, President Ashraf Ghani had successful meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif.
Political analyst Khushal Khalil said it was an Afghanistan-centric conference and hence enormously important for the country in terms of peace and economic stability.
The president, who planned to skip the event, was convinced by international allies to co-inaugurate the conference, he said. “It was a proper step for Ghani to participate in the meeting, because a boycott was a non-option.
“The e visit enabled Ghani to deliver speech to international partners in Pakistan,” the analyst said. The most important thing was that the president won pledges of support from India, China and the US in reviving the moribund peace process.
“Some politicians believe the war in Afghanistan is not in the interest of Pakistan. But this is a misperception on the part of the Pakistani military which doesn’t want Afghanistan to have a strong government or army,” he commented, blaming the neighbour while insisting its double standard.
Pakistan’s political leadership attached greater importance to strong economic links and job opportunities for its people. It, therefore, wants to mediate between the Pakistan Army and the Afghan government, he believed.
“As long as the Pakistan Army doesn’t change its stance on what it perceives as strategic depth, talks and conferences on peace will remain fruitless,” he warned.
Writer Roohul Amin Hasan said for the sake of lasting peace, Afghan officials had once again entered talks with Pakistanis in the presence of international guarantors.
“True peace has long been our yearning and need. We trust our president and his decision on the reconciliation process,” he noted, explaining the Afghans could no longer afford live in war.
But political commentator Dastagir Hidayat claimed peace parleys involving Pakistani were not for Afghanistan’s interest. He alleged Pakistan was not cooperating honestly with peace efforts.
“The Afghan leadership shouldn’t soften its stance against Pakistan,” he thought, suggesting continued political and economic pressures on Islamabad. He also stressed efforts to reshape the American and Chinese perceptions of Pakistan being a key partner in the peace drive.
If left out of the loop, Pakistan would be hurt by economic linkages and Central Asia’s integration, he opined, calling for mounting pressure on Islamabad to stop the 37 years undeclared war against Afghanistan.
Originally, Ghani did not want to go himself or send his foreign minister to the conference; he had asked Hikmat Khalil Karzai to represent Afghanistan, disclosed a source close to the Presidential Palace “But he visited Islamabad as a result of repeated requests and guarantees (of Pakistan’s solid support) from the international community, especially China and the US.”
Ghani did not expect a rousing welcome at the Islamabad airport, but top Pakistani leaders accorded him an extraordinary reception in a bid to convince Ghani to take their promises of cooperation at face value, one senior official remarked.
“However, the president eloquently articulated demands of the Afghan nation at bilateral, trilateral and multilateral talks. He also told Pakistan he would neither trust it nor ask for its cooperation if the Afghan demands are not accepted,” the source claimed.
Ghani was assured China and the US would guarantee Pakistan’s honest cooperate with the Afghan government in restarting the peace process, the source concluded.
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