Experts warn of Afghan refugee influx if peace talks fail
POLİTİCS

Experts warn of Afghan refugee influx if peace talks fail

Security experts from Pakistan, US, Afghanistan urge regional powers to help Afghanistan, become 'partners in peace'

News Service AA

Security experts from Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan warn that if the ongoing Afghan peace process fails and civil war erupts, this would create millions of refugees and destabilize the region.

Amid the risk of greater violence, Afghanistan is threatened by the "nightmare" of an open-ended, proxy-driven civil war that could uproot millions who would subsequently become refugees, said Marvin Weinbaum, one of the experts on a panel held on Wednesday by the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS), a think tank founded by the Pakistani Air Force and based in the capital Islamabad.

Afghanistan's neighboring countries should help the war-torn country reach an "Afghan-led" power-sharing arrangement and become "partners in peace," said Weinbaum, who heads Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

Also speaking at the webinar on the future of Afghanistan, former Afghan presidential aide Torek Farhadi said the Taliban needed to understand that a civil war in Afghanistan once foreign troops left would benefit none.

Retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad also attended the event, arguing that all states willing to support Afghanistan should ink an agreement for the period after US forces withdraw from the region.

"A Pak-Afghan agreement needed to be put in place, along with an agreement by supporting states willing to support Kabul post US departure," said Ahmad, the former Chief of General Staff of Pakistan army.

On a hopeful note, the experts said Pakistani and Afghan cooperation could turn the region into a zone of opportunity, trade, commerce, and transit.

"The ongoing peace process had stalemated. Despite that, whatever the outcome of the peace process, it was imperative for Islamabad to continue to display the same level of commitment towards Afghanistan's peace and stability," said former Pakistani Foreign Secretary and CASS director Jalil Abbas Jilani.

Any internal fighting, particularly between the Taliban and the Afghan government, would pose a serious challenge to regional peace, according to retired Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan, who had previously served as the vice chief of air staff of Pakistan's Air Force.

On his home country, Khan cautioned that failure to stabilize Afghanistan would have "serious implications on Pakistan's economic and internal security emerging out of influx of refugees and terror activities."

The experts stressed the need for both regional powers and Afghan stakeholders to learn from the bitter and costly history of conflict and work together to prevent adverse consequences for south, west and Central Asia.

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