COUNTRIES participating in Chiefs of Defence Conference in Kabul on Tuesday agreed to continue cooperation for peace and stability in the region. The moot, attended by Pakistan, the United States, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, was aimed at discussing ways and means for securing a lasting peace in Afghanistan and stability in the region besides strategy to tackle the menace of narcotics which is used to finance terrorist activities.
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who represented Pakistan at the critical conference, gave a candid view of the issues involved and rebutted allegations being levelled against the country about presence of terrorist sanctuaries or safe havens. Alluding to such rhetoric being spewed from Kabul and Washington, he cautioned that collaborative approach and persistence is the answer to all challenges, for which Pakistan is ready to play its part. The moot was significant in that it was attended by all those who were practically involved in the fight against terror and who know how best to address the problem. It was also important to note that India, which has nothing to do with the Afghan issue, was rightly left out as has consistently been demanded by Pakistan. This is indicative of some change in thinking in Washington, which had been accommodating Indian game plan for the region, giving New Delhi major role in Afghan affairs. As Kabul conference was held on the heels of NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting, its deliberations and outcome would surely serve as weighty input for NATO leaders to formulate a logical and feasible strategy to address the Afghan imbroglio. General Bajwa has forcefully raised the issue of repatriation of 2.7 million Afghan refugees and the need for a cooperative strategy for border management as without addressing these two core issues it would be naïve to expect durable peace in the region. We also expect that the US-led West would also seriously give thought to oft-repeated suggestion of Pakistan to lay focus on negotiated settlement of the conflict rather than intensified use of military power that has so far produced no worthwhile result except complicating things further.
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