Diplomacy in the time of twitter OR Tug of tweets

As Afghan conflict winds down to a solution

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As stakeholders start to sense the anticipated withdrawal of US forces from the long- troubled land called Afghanistan, there is a scramble to claim space in the new dispensation, whatever that may be.

After the US’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad’s back to back visits to the region and talks between US and Taliban in Doha and then recent Afghan opposition parties talks with the Taliban representatives in Moscow, there is a growing sense of anticipation.

Pakistan being a major stakeholder in the regional peace should definitely be interested – which it is – in an outcome that suits all the parties concerned. It, as acknowledged by the US time and again, has played its role in bringing the Taliban to the table, no mean feat given how bad things were both in the region, and between Islamabad and Washington.

Commander of US Central Command General Joseph Votel while testifying lately before the Senate Armed Services Committee said as they seek an end to the Afghan conflict “Pakistan’s equities [shall be] acknowledged and addressed in any future agreement.”

The current regime in the Afghanistan has not been happy so to speak with Pakistan. It probably is feeling left out as the US has kept the current dispensation out of the negotiation process altogether.

Probably, it was in this backdrop that President Ashraf Ghani has tweeted yesterday expressing his concern about some protests in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa alluding to the murder of Professor Arman Luni in Balochistan allegedly by the local police.

Pakistan’s foreign office including the foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other politicians, notably among them the former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, took exception to Ghani’s statement and called it an unnecessary interference.

There were others who advocated some leeway for the Afghan president considering the land of Afghans has been intruded upon by foreign forces for far too long.

Going further, both the parties should avoid this diplomatic confrontation in the interest of peace and allow for the acrimony to dissipate so that when the US forces finally withdraw, the various factions in Afghanistan should get to choose a dispensation of their choice.

And success for Pakistan would be when our Afghan brethren do not doubt us of unduly favouring any one faction and/or trying to influence the reconciliation process.

And no marks for guessing that nothing has harmed bilateral relations more than the tweet-happy diplomats and leaders. These 140 characters – nee 280 characters –  are a nightmare for modern-day diplomacy. Discretion is advised.