Islamabad: The withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan should be properly planned and executed to ensure that the law and order situation does not go out of control, a Pakistani think tank has said.

Though the main focus of the discussion at a roundtable organised by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) Tuesday was the situation in Afghanistan, the participants also expressed optimism over the improvement in Pakistan- India relations, as reported.

Participants also discussed the volatile Pakistan-US relations and US relations with Iran.

Shaheen Akhtar, senior research analyst at the IRS, said that for long-term stability in Afghanistan, NATO forces would have to plan their withdrawal in a very responsible manner.

'It has to be ensured that a power vacuum is not left in Afghanistan, which will give rise to non-state actors in the country,' he said.

Some of the speakers said Afghanistan had become a battleground for a 'proxy war' between many powers and the growing Indian influence could not be ignored by Pakistan.

Most of the speakers stressed direct dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the issues between the two countries.

George Perkovich, vice president for Studies and director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said India was eyeing a global role for itself, which made it more inclined to talk peace with Pakistan.

In this, he saw an opportunity for Pakistan to build a peaceful future for the region.

He dispelled the impression that the heavy presence and investment by India in Afghanistan could be a threat to Pakistan.

India could never substitute Pakistan in Afghanistan, as there was a historical interdependence between Kabul and Islamabad, another expert said.

(Agencies)