UN Envoy Encouraged by Afghanistan-Pakistan Engagements

The United Nations’ Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas Nicholson is encouraged that Pakistan and Afghanistan are still strengthening relationships. Pakistani premiere’s visit to Kabul and the Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa engagement with the top Aghan leadership demonstrates Pakistan’s keen interest in restoring the historical ties.

Nicholson believes that Pakistan is not part of the problem; instead, it is part of a peaceful and settled Afghanistan solution. In the long run, Afghanistan is the solution for Pakistan, owing to the broader connectivity it can provide to Central Asia, he told a local TV.

Nicholson said that Pakistan and Afghanistan share a long history and have a long border. Still, unfortunately, there is “a high level of mistrust” between the leadership of both countries.

“An insecure, violent, unsettled Afghanistan will have spillover effects on Pakistan,” he said.

“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 the civil war continues, this will not happen.”

He said the day the 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.

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