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Prerequisites of peace

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THE Afghan Taliban have emerged from the shadows to claim the right to again govern Afghanistan. Although the process may be tortuous, they are likely to succeed. Apart from President Ashraf Ghani and his coterie, and some others in Kabul, most Afghan groups and leaders appear ready to negotiate an Afghan political structure in which the Taliban would play a dominant role.

The Taliban’s impending triumph would vindicate the long-standing assessment of Pakistan’s security establishment that the US would eventually leave Afghanistan while the Taliban would prove resilient and eventually return to power. They have now been invited to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad where there is justifiable expectation of a resumed close relationship with Afghanistan once the Taliban assume a leading political role in Kabul.

Contrary to the propaganda spread by its adversaries about “strategic depth”, Pakistan’s core interest is the establishment of durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. There are four formidable challenges which still stand in the way.

Durable peace and security in Afghanistan will depend on the level of external interference in its affairs.

The first, of course, is the development of an intra-Afghan consensus on the new structure of governance. US withdrawal will leave the Taliban as the main organised force in the country. The old north-south divide has been replaced by more complex power dynamics where, apart from the Taliban, power is exercised by a number of ethnic and regional groups and warlords and by several terrorist groups such as the Islamic State-Khorasan, Al Qaeda and their affiliates. Like the US,........

© Dawn