Sunday Jun 20, 2021
The United Nations' special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas Nicholson has said that Pakistan is not part of the problem, rather it is part of the solution for a peaceful and settled Afghanistan.
Speaking on Geo News programme "Jirga" on Saturday night, the envoy went on to state that Afghanistan too, in the long run, is the solution for Pakistan owing to the broader connectivity it can provide to Central Asia.
Nicholson said that Pakistan and Afghanistan share a long history and have a long border, but unfortunately there is "a high level of mistrust" between the leadership of both countries.
"What happens in Afghanistan will have an impact on what happens in Pakistan. An insecure, violent, unsettled Afghanistan will have spillover effects on Pakistan," he said.
He said he hears "very encouraging signals", however, not just recently, but also recently, when it comes to relationship-building between the two nations.
"We have seen attempts. We have seen a visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Kabul, contact at the highest level with the Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa, together with others, visiting Kabul to talk and try to find agreements," he said.
Nicholson noted that sometimes, following such attempts, there is "a followup, spill over, and unfortunate comments being made".
He said that one could focus on those comments but that would block the process.
"We can [instead] focus with a strategic and statesman-like manner on what has to be done and what the situation calls for."
The special envoy said that if Pakistan and Afghanistan can do that, "then there is hope".
"And then certainly, Pakistan is part of the solution, not the problem."
"I also happen to think that Afghanistan is part of the solution for Pakistan," said Nicholson, citing connectivity, trade, and energy from Central Asia.
"You remember the old slogan from Nokia — 'connecting people'. We could actually say 'Afghanistan: connecting people', because that's the way it should be, because it is where it is," the envoy said.
He added: "But it just so happens, as long as civil war continues, this will not happen."
He said the day civil war ends, "it will happen and then you will see all these or some of these connectivity networks, digital connectivity, transit trade".
"The link between South Asia and Central Asia and Afghanistan will really play the role it can.
"It will help the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian economies.
"The perception of Afghanistan will be very very different from what it is today," Nicholson said.