The British Prime Minister David Cameron will be hosting a summit conference, which includes the Pakistan President Asif Zardari and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai. The trilateral session is third in a series of talks, which culminated in earlier meetings in Kabul and New York in July and September 2012 respectively.
During the talks, the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom will discuss the regional situation, exchange views on the strategic partnership, and evolve a joint strategy for reconciliation in Afghanistan to ensure peace and stability in the region. The summit will also discuss the post-2014 situation following withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
The heads of the three governments had met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York in September 2012. A spokesman of Downing Street stated that the British Prime Minister will host the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Sunday and Monday as part of his ongoing efforts to help strengthen Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, support an Afghan peace and reconciliation process and promote regional peace and stability. Discussions are expected to focus on the Afghan-led peace process and how the Pakistanis and international community can support it. We also expect the Afghans and Pakistanis to make further progress on the Strategic Partnership Agreement they committed to in September. This is a time when Britain would withdraw 3,800 of the 9,000 military troops from Afghanistan during the current year. This is in preparation for NATO's complete security handover to the Afghan forces by the end of next year.
The trilateral meeting is critical to establish peace and security in South Asia. Following are some important factors:
• The British government sees the trilateral peace process as an opportunity for all including Taliban, for participating in the peace process in Afghanistan.
• A stable Afghanistan is in the interest of its neighbors and Britain itself.
• The vision for Afghanistan is that of a peaceful, secure and democratic country that never again becomes a haven for international terror.
• Afghanistan's neighbors have a vital role to play in bringing stability because this is in their own interest.
The establishment of a durable peace in Afghanistan will lead to a long-term stability in the region of South Asia. The Afghan security forces must be able to maintain order in the country after withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO troops in 2014. The initiative by the British Prime Minister is commendable, but mere promises of cooperation by the participants will not be enough. Afghanistan understands that it cannot achieve progress without support of its neighbors particularly Pakistan. Given the present state of cross border terrorist activities, Pakistan needs equal cooperation and support from Afghanistan. The success of the peace process will depend on the sincerity, commitment and seriousness of all interlocutors in the conflict.