The past two days have only shown how peace in Afghanistan not only affects the region at large, but Pakistan specifically as well. The US first moved a bipartisan bill in its Senate, opening up export zones in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as a post-September plan to bring some much-needed growth and economic opportunity.
These Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) would allow for both Afghan and Pakistani citizens to use these points to export certain commodities to the US without any duties levied. If the list of products exempted is extensive enough to accommodate those in the area, this is a positive step for both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But questions of development aside, there is still the lingering security question that remains unaddressed. The attack on Friday that killed four Pakistani citizens in Afghanistan as a reminder of how all those in the region stand to benefit from peace in Afghanistan.
The four-member Extended Troika on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan—comprising Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States—have implored both the Afghan government and Taliban to curb cross-border attacks from Afghan soil. This statement in itself is a win for Pakistan, which has been raising this issue without much interest for a long time.
But the only way to truly stop these incidents to ensure Afghanistan itself is stable and peaceful. This extended troika has a job on its hands. September is quickly approaching and there is no indication of restarting the dialogue within Afghanistan. If a new set up is not in place before the withdrawal is complete, a bloody and violence civil war for supremacy among all factions is expected. This violence will naturally spillover into the region as well.
If however, the Taliban are brought to the negotiation table, the non-state actor and the existing government can work out a way with less bloodshed. The defence forces and the Taliban at least can find peace and can work together towards eliminating any other groups—such as the TTP—that pose a threat to the region. There is little time left. The priority now is to finalise the process forward.