The Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) organizes webinar “US Exit from Afghanistan: The Regional Implications”


Islamabad: The Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR), Islamabad organized a webinar titled “US Exit from Afghanistan: The Regional Implications” The panelist of the webinar included professional experts and academic scholars on the pertinent topic. Khalid Latif, Executive Director (COPAIR) and Raja Fasial, Program Director – South Asia (COPAIR) co-moderated the event.

Amna Malik President (COPAIR) – opined that that the protracted Afghanistan conflict has fractured the country politically, economically and socially as it has drawn the civilian population into cycles of devastation.

Michael O’Hanlon – Senior Fellow and Director of Research, in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, spoke on the topic ‘Afghanistan: A US & Pakistani Unaccomplished Mission’. Michael stated that the United States and Pakistan each had made one big strategic mistake in their interaction in Afghanistan. The U.S. sought strategic services of Pakistan in the 1980s to defeat the Soviet Union and Pakistanis duly put their heart and soul to help us accomplish the mission. However, when the U.S. won the Cold War, the Americans left Pakistan with the spillover effects of the ensuing civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s in terms of refugees. Equally the Americans broke the trust of the Pakistanis to the extent that Islamabad never really trusted the US again. Even after U.S.’s spending twenty years in Afghanistan post 9/11, with the sacrifice of men and material, Pakistan considered the U.S. engagement in Afghanistan as temporary and therefore placed its bets on protecting and supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Tariq Khan, Hi (M) gave an inclusive insight on the topic, “Another Perception- Afghanistan.” He said that the Taliban have never had control of less than 40 percent areas of Afghanistan and that they used drug trade to finance their militant campaign. After the 9/11, Pakistan provided the US with military bases and logistical support for its military campaign in Afghanistan so that the US should stabilize Afghanistan. When the U.S. failed in that effort, Pakistan advocated the inclusion of the Taliban in the political arrangements in Kabul. But the U.S. had other plans. It wanted to grant India, Pakistan’s archrival, a prominent role in Afghanistan, in Pakistan’s backyard. Pakistan never liked the idea. For a lasting cooperation between the US and Pakistan, Gen. Tariq Khan recommended that Washington should provide economic investments to Pakistan to increase the country’s regional connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia as part and instead of the trade conflict with China.

Dr. Haiyun MA- Associate Professor- Frostburg State University discussed the Chinese Perspective vis-a-vis US Exist from Afghanistan. He noted that China’s only interest in Afghanistan, including through engagement with the Taliban, was to protect its national interests. These included the assurances of the Taliban that the Afghan soil will not be used by the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other militant groups for terrorism against China. As far as economic engagement is concerned, he didn’t see any substantial investments of China in Afghanistan. He recommended that China, like the US and other countries, cannot eliminate terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. Instead, it had to pursue economic and development cooperation agenda. At the same time, he urged that the US should not stop the financial support of the Kabul government and that both China and the US should cooperate in Afghanistan and not to consider the country as a battlefield. He also recommended that Afghanistan’s neighbors should make economic contributions to their respective bordering provinces. For instance, China should target Badakshan, Pakistan in the South and Southeast and Iran in the Southwest. This will help these countries earn revenues from cross-border trade.

Ambassador Khalid Mehmood, Chairperson (COPAIR)- in his concluding remarks stated that Pakistan has no favorites in Afghanistan. Furthermore Pakistan is only eying upon its economic endeavors emboldened the positive sum gains across the region. On the behalf of COPAIR Team he extended special regards to all the participants and speakers for a virtual gathering on one of the most critical and pressing issues facing the South Asian region today.

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