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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a consultation urged Pakistan and Afghanistan to start fresh negotiations to break the ongoing deadlock on dealing with the issue of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and cross-border terrorism.

The 9th round of consultation on the peace process was organised by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research and advocacy think tank, under the theme: “Afghan peace and reconciliation: Pakistan’s interests and policy options.”

The speakers that included academics, politicians, journalists, religious scholars, and experts on Afghanistan affairs from Pakistan and Afghanistan, pointed out that Pakistan lacks continuity in its policies towards Afghanistan and that Islamabad should form some “realistic and holistic” policy for the neighbouring country, which must be brought into the public domain to make it more productive.

They also advised Pakistani authorities to refrain from talking to the interim government of Taliban in a “tough tone”, adding that negotiations are the only way forward.

Associate professor of defence and strategic studies at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad Dr Salma Malik stated that Pakistan needs to form some realistic and holistic policy towards Afghanistan. She added that Islamabad should make the Taliban understand to provide at least online facilities of education to Afghan women.

Political analyst and expert on regional affairs Afrasiab Khattak said that Pakistan should review its policy towards Afghanistan, adding that the existing one is flawed, as well as, the root cause of all problems.

Senior journalist and editor Haroon Rashid, taking part in the discussion, said that the issue of TTP was the basic impediment in bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said that there is a deadlock on the matter, which will persist as long as both sides do not find a solution to the problem. He underlined that Pakistan would have to work on some strategy to weaken the TTP.

Mufti Muhammad Qasim Haqqani, central leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), suggested that a delegation of local religious scholars and Pashtun leadership should meet with Afghan Taliban in Kabul to discuss with them all issues between the two countries, including that of TTP militants. He said that conferences of Ulema of Pakistan and Afghanistan should also be held in Kabul and Islamabad to debate and resolve issues between the two countries.

Afghan-based journalist and educationist Muzhgan Feraji talked about rights of education and employment being denied to women in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime in Kabul.

“If women have the right to education and employment in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, then why cannot they get these rights in Afghanistan,” she questioned.

Afghan women rights activist Zohra Wahedi Akhtari deplored that the lives of women and girls are miserable under the present government in Afghanistan and added that they have become victims of the Taliban regime. “Taliban have closed all doors of development for Afghan women,” she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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