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Pakistan asks America to keep its troops in Afghanistan till stability

In a clear departure from its earlier position, Pakistan has cautioned against the US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan without first achieving the complete peace and security in the  country. “Pakistan has been reiterating that the US forces should stay in Afghanistan till the achievement of complete peace and stability,” Foreign office spokesperson  said at the weekly briefing on October 18. “I would like to draw your attention to the chaos in the aftermath of the withdrawal of USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics] in the late 1980s. The region cannot afford anything similar, at this time,” he added.  Taliban continue to call the shots. Provincial governor, Police and Intelligence chiefs  were assassinated in an attack in Kandahar province while  the top American commander in Afghanistan General Austin Miller narrowly escaped. Probably, it was an inside job.  Over thirty percent polling stations are not likely to open due to violence during October 20 parliamentary polls. On a request by the government of Afghanistan, Pakistan has decided to keep the friendship gates on Pakistan Afghanistan  border crossing points at Chaman and Torkham closed on October 19 & 20  2018 . The decision has been taken to support Afghanistan in smooth conduct of upcoming Parliamentary elections in the country. Both the crossing points will remain closed for all kinds of traffic except emergency cases.

Afghanistan is undoubtedly in a chaos, and Pakistan’s concerns about post US pullout are not unfounded. May be Pakistan is anticipating a sudden pullout by President Trump. Whatever, the people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence over this change of stance.

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Afghan peace process oscillations

The Trump administration is aiming to strike a deal with the Taliban before the Afghan presidential elections, for which new schedule shall be announced in due course. The Taliban, who control over 60 per cent of the Afghan territory, want the US forces to leave Afghanistan. Representatives of the Taliban, the US and several Asian countries gathered in the UAE on December 17-18. The talks were supposed to last three days, as per earlier official announcements, but neither side explained what prompted them to abruptly end the process. Afghan government officials also travelled to the UAE, but were not invited into the meeting. They met with other delegations and said that efforts to join the discussions continued. Afghan peace process in a a state of perpetual oscillations. Taliban, say the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace. Even as the peace process gathers momentum, fighting has continued with heavy casualties on both sides. President Ashraf Ghani’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, stated that Afghan government had not taken part directly in the talks, however a team from Kabul met US and Saudi officials in the UAE. Pakistan Foreign office welcomed a new round of talks between the Afghan Taliban and other international stakeholders: “Along with international community and other stakeholders, Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” said FO Spokesperson on Twitter: “Talks are being held in UAE. We hope this will end bloodshed in Afghanistan and bring peace to the region.” Notwithstanding the optimism, Afghan peace may stay elusive unless occupation forces offer concrete concessions including firm timeframe for the departure of last foreign soldier and substantial restructuring of Afghan constitution.

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