Webinar Sees Frigid US-Pakistan Relations

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a webinar on Saturday observed that no warmer relationship between Pakistan and the United States could be seen in the near future due to the ‘stick versus carrot’ conundrum in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

This was the focal point of the international webinar titled “The Taliban Regime in International Relations”, organized by the Department of International Relations at the University of Peshawar.

The main themes of US-Pakistan relations, European perspectives on the Taliban regime and the characterization of the Taliban were explored during the webinar. Students from different departments of the University of Peshawar participated in the event.

First international speaker Elizabeth Threlkeld, program director for South Asia, Stimson Center, Washington DC, shared her perspective on US-Pakistan relations in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

She said the roadmap towards future relations between the two countries was aligned with mutual benefit. However, securitization remains the modus operandi of their respective foreign policies towards each other. The collaboration on the evacuation of Afghanistan between the United States and Pakistan provided such a scenario, she added.

Elizabeth Threlkeld said avoiding destabilization and eliminating terrorism are the two pillars of the way forward in US-Pakistan relations where their security interests and concerns align.

She said that the two sides had a difference in approaching these solutions which was the point of divergence of means in a convergence of ends.

The second international speaker, Dr Felipe Pathe Duarte, assistant professor and researcher at the Nova School of Law in Lisbon, presented the European perspective on the Taliban regime.

Presenting both sides of the coin, he shared a pessimistic perspective against an optimistic one.

He added that regime change in Afghanistan presented two problems for the European Union – one the impact of the withdrawal on the strategic autonomy of the EU, and the second the social and security pressure on Europe.

Dr Felipe said the latter could be explored rhetorically with political consequences in terms of mass migration. He said the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan undermined the goal of the transatlantic alliance, NATO, as Afghanistan was the main subject, which calls into question the sustainability of the alliance.

“This could allow the EU to reassess NATO’s strategic priorities,” he added.

Dr Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Chairman of the Department of International Relations at the University of Peshawar, shared his findings on Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.

He asserted that navigating this paradigm shift first required a policy of engagement rather than a policy of direct recognition by the international community towards the Taliban regime.

In this way, rather than viewing the Taliban regime critically, any crisis can be avoided through economic, political, security and social engagement with the Taliban regime, he added.

He said Afghanistan’s neighboring countries like Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran and others like Turkey have kept their embassies open in Kabul and are continuing their foreign activities in Afghanistan. “They are also providing assistance to Afghanistan. And they also call on the world community to recognize the Taliban regime. But the irony is that they have yet to recognize the Taliban. This makes their policy dichotomous, ”he concluded.

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