Prime Minister Gilani has appealed to all Afghan groups, including the Taliban and the Hizbe Islami, to participate in an intra-Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and talk directly to the Kabul regime. In a statement issued by the PM’s media office on Friday, he stressed the importance of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan to the region, and couched his appeal in unexceptionable terms. However, it should be noted that the appeal followed the setting up of a Taliban office in Qatar, so as to have direct talks with the USA. This may fulfill the Taliban demand, which is based on what seems a desire to talk with the real decision-makers, but which shuts both Kabul and Islamabad out from the process. As the USA is merely an occupying power, any solution for it would be based on its desire to withdraw its troops safely, without any care for the peace or stability of the region, let alone the country. Once it has withdrawn, it will show as much interest in Afghanistan as Russia does, even though the USSR once had 200,000 troops stationed there, when it was the occupying power in the 1980s. Though the Taliban have got their wish of talking to the Americans, they have played into American hands by keeping out the real stakeholders, the Kabul regime and Pakistan. Without talking to Pakistan, how can peace and stability be expected in Afghanistan? This was accepted in the recent trilateral summit by Afghanistan when its President appealed for help in his peace process, which was made manifest by Mr Gilani’s statement.

However, Mr Gilani did not identify even by implication one of the main threats to Afghan pacification and stabilization, which was that of the Indian presence there. With no historic or present interest in Afghanistan, India needs to be excluded. The USA also needs not only to be convinced of the need for it to leave Afghanistan, but also not to attempt to impose a dispensation of its own choice. It must be remembered that any imposed regime, or any regime surviving only because of an outside power, will not create the kind of regime that will be conducive to the stability of the region.

The government must make clear to the USA that only a natural solution, which recognizes the true ethnic proportions of Afghanistan, and which allows the Pashtuns to exert their natural majority, will provide it that stability which the USA claims it wants, not a solution imposed by it, based on non-Pashtun minorities. It has already tried this, by imposing the Karzai regime, which is based on the essentially Tajik Northern Alliance, with the result that it has to negotiate with the Pashtun Taliban to negotiate what is essentially a withdrawal.