*Peace in Afghanistan means peace for Pakistan, Ahmad Wali Massoud*
Islamabad : “I have come with a message of friendship and peace. Peace in Afghanistan means peace for Pakistan.” This was stated by H.E. Ahmad Wali Massoud, Chairman, Massoud Foundation of Afghanistan & Former Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Kingdom during his address at a Public Talk organized by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad today under its Distinguished Lecture Series. Members of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad, academics, civil society, former and current diplomats were also present.
Ms. Amina Khan, Director Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) gave welcome remarks.
Mr. Massoud spoke about the special bond Pakistan and Afghanistan share; be it politics, economics, security, culture and religion. He said that dialogue between the two countries is very important because direct discourse will strengthen the prospects for peace. He said that like any other relationship, there are always conflicts of interests and instead of wasting time on them, competing claims from all sides should be put on the table and resolved. He was of the view that both countries need to define their security and economic relations, understand each others’ views, build trust and subsequently a shared vision.
While talking about the situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Massoud said that a strong government in Kabul is the first pillar of peace in Afghanistan. This entails a formula based on a decentralised system rooted in the social fabric of Afghanistan because only when people from different ethnicities are present within the fold of the system; sustainable consensus can be achieved and hence a strong institution can be built. He stressed the importance of achieving consensus democracy where the people are their own representatives.
He talked about his late brother, Ahmad Shah Massoud’s contribution towards building a sovereign, inclusive and strong Afghanistan. By taking a similar stance, peace can be achieved in Afghanistan. He was of the view that the people of Afghanistan have suffered for far too long and yearn for peace. According to him, values adopted by different factions in Afghanistan vary in a distinct manner however it is important to take all of them into account if the peace process is to move forward in Afghanistan. Hence, it was time for all stakeholders to accommodate each other.
Talking about Afghan foreign policy, he said a very balanced approach is required so that Afghanistan is not perceived as a threat nor used as a strategic tool by any party. By doing so, balance could be achieved internally as well as externally. He reassured that no country will be allowed to use proxies for pursuing their interests. In this regard, he opined that the people of Afghanistan share an unbreakable bond with the people of Pakistan, and stressed that Pakistan has no enemies in Afghanistan. Reiterating Mr. Massoud’s stance, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI said that Pakistan does not want Afghanistan to become a bastion of proxy wars, and aspired for a sovereign and peaceful neighbour
The talk was followed by a question and answer session which was moderated by DG ISSI, Ambassador Chaudhry. While answering a question on the prospects of US troops leaving Afghanistan, Mr. Massoud said he shared Pakistan’s stance regarding the need for a responsible US exit from Afghanistan, as it was the people of the region who would face the repercussions of a hasty withdrawal. He said peace in Afghanistan was a precursor for peace and stability in the entire region. The talk concluded with Chairman BOG, ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood presenting the Institute’s shield to the distinguished guest.