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Safdar Sial

Safdar Sial has been working with the Islamabad-based research and policy advocacy organisation Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) as a research analyst since March 2007. His work focuses on conflict, insecurity, and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan; regional political, strategic and sec...
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Pakistani-Afghan relations after Karzai

Safdar Sial, 18 February 2016

Unlike his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has adopted a policy of rapprochement towards Pakistan. To that end he delayed the implementation of the strategic partnership agreement with India, sought close ties with Pakistan’s security establishment, and instituted specific initiatives to alleviate Pakistani concerns over cross-border terrorism. Pakistan, in turn, managed to bring Taliban representatives to the negotiation table in Murree on July 7th 2015. The fledgling Afghan government-Taliban peace process derailed after the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar. Apparently, to dispel the impression of weakness and appease dissident commanders, the new Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, opted for increased offenses inside Afghanistan. Prospects for political reconciliation in Afghanistan looked murky until the Heart of Asia Conference was held in Islamabad on December 6th 2015. Currently Pakistan and Afghanistan can engage bilaterally and through the Quadrilateral Monitoring Committee, which includes China and the U.S., to increase efforts to resume the Murree talks. They should use the emerging regional geoeconomics to enhance bilateral economic cooperation and work towards establishing a joint border security and coordination mechanism. Pakistan and India should see their ties with Afghanistan more realistically in terms of the emerging bilateral and multilateral engagements in the region.

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