As the US is withdrawing, Afghanistan is at the crossroads of history yet again. Given its geostrategic location at the intersection of the South and Central Asian regions, developments in Afghanistan will have far-reaching implications for regional and global peace and security. The impasse of the Afghan peace process, amid the Taliban’s rapid territorial gains, has raised the spectre of the militant group’s military takeover of the country.
Against this backdrop, this webinar will address the critical questions, among others, of peace and conflict in Afghanistan. Will the history of the 1990s repeat itself, notwithstanding a qualitatively different geopolitical environment? What are the major impediments to peace in Afghanistan and, on top of current efforts, what additional measures are required to salvage the peace process to avoid adverse outcomes? Have the Afghan Taliban transformed as a militant movement, or is it merely propaganda for public consumption? Some analysts suggest that the Afghan Taliban have moderated their hard-line positions on several issues. For instance, they are perhaps willing to grant more rights to women and minorities. Finally, what is the best way to transition into an interim national government representing various Afghan political groups and ethnic factions, including the Taliban? What role can important regional countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and India play to help with the peace process?
Dr Hazart Omar Zakhilwal is one of the founders and the current leader of the Afghanistan Salvation Movement, a grassroots pro-peace national political movement formed in March 2021. Since 2005, Dr Zakhilwal has served as President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Representative & Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, National Economic Advisor of Afghanistan, and Minister of Finance, Transport and Civil Aviation.
Before joining the government, Dr Zakhilwal worked for various international organisations in Kabul, including the World Bank, the United Nations and the Canadian International Development Agency. He was also a counter-partner with different international think tanks on Afghanistan related development research work and authored many critical scholarly works.
Since 2019, Dr Zakhilwal has been a key player in the Intra-Afghan Dialogue for peace, participating in all the Loya Jirgas, major international donor conferences, including the Paris Conference of 2008, the London Conference of January 2010, the Kabul Conference of July 2010 and the Bonn Conference of December 2011, among others.
Zakhilwal holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in economics from the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. He also has a doctorate in economics at Carleton University in Ottawa.