The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) had a Panel Discussion on ‘Conversations on the Afghan Peace Process: Uzbekistan’s Role in Afghanistan’ which is the fourth in a series of conversations CAMEA had on Afghanistan – under its Conversations on the Afghan Peace Process series.
The distinguished speakers included: Mr. Ibraheem Bahiss, Consultant with Crisis Group’s Asia Program, Dr. Baktyor Mustafaev, Deputy Director of the International Institute of Central Asia Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Dr. Akram Umarov, Senior Research Fellow – The University of World Economy and Diplomacy, Tashkent, Dr. Vladimir Paramonov, Director / Founder, Central Eurasian Analytical Group, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Ambassador Masood Khalid, Former Pakistan Counsellor to Uzbekistan from 1995-98. Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, and Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG, ISSI, also took part in the discussion.
During her opening remarks, Ms. Amina Khan, Director CAMEA said since the Taliban takeover, with the exception of terrorist attacks by the ISKP, followed by the US drone strikes against the group, the transition process has been relatively smooth. So far, the Taliban have presented a moderate face, where they have allowed the re-opening of schools and return of women to work – moreover, there have been talks of forming an inclusive government. While there are some signs of resistance in the Panjsheer areas, by and far all political Afghan factions appear to be willing to work with the Taliban in an inclusive framework. However, with the US withdrawal, the real test for Taliban has only just begun. It is imperative for the Taliban to engage with Afghan stakeholders and form a government that is inclusive and representative of all Afghans. Bewildered by instability in Afghanistan, regional actors have come to the forefront to play a more prominent role, and one such country is Uzbekistan, which has played an important role in the Afghan -peace process, by engaging with all sides as well as hosting initiatives to help achieve a negotiated settlement. Moreover, Tashkent and Islamabad have a close and coordinated approach towards Afghanistan.