Imran warns against hasty int’l withdrawal from Afghanistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned against hasty withdrawal of foreign powers from Afghanistan, according to media reports.

“All those who have invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation for setting unrealistic timelines. A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise,” The Express Tribune quoted Khan as saying in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Saturday.

“We should also guard against regional spoilers who are not invested in peace and see instability in Afghanistan as advantageous for their own geopolitical ends,” he added.

The premier said the rare moment of hope for Afghanistan and the entire region has arrived, recalling that on September 12, delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban finally held talks in Doha to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end.

With the exception of the resilient Afghans themselves, no people have paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than the people of Pakistan, he said in the article.

“Through decades of conflict, Pakistan has dealt with the responsibility of taking care of more than four million Afghan refugees. Guns and drugs have also flowed into our country.

“The wars have disrupted our economic trajectory and radicalised fringes of our own society…,” he added.

Khan further said that “only an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process, which recognises Afghanistan’s political realities and diversity, could produce lasting peace”.

In the article, Khan also recalled that in 2018 Pakistan had assured the US of its all-out support when President Donald Trump had sought Islamabad’s assistance to achieve a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, reports The Express Tribune.

“Thus began arduous rounds of talks between the US and the Taliban, which culminated in the February US-Taliban peace agreement. This agreement, in turn, has laid the groundwork for talks between the Afghan leadership and the Taliban.”

The premier added that despite hurdles, the peace talks remained successful due to the courage and flexibility displayed by all sides.

But Khan noted that the intra-Afghan negotiations were likely to be even more difficult, requiring patience and compromise from all sides.

In conclusion, he reiterated that Pakistan will continue to support the Afghan people in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign country that is at peace with itself and its neighbours.