Afghan government must own peace process | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan

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Afghan government must own peace process


THE interview of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel on May 14, 2021 was quite desperate, disgusting and highly biased.

If summarized in one sentence, Ghani’s interview was full of accusations against Pakistan.

It was distressing in a way that just four days before this interview there was a very optimistic meeting between President Asharaf Ghani and Pakistani Army Chief in Kabul.

General Bajwa especially went to Kabul to assure the Afghan President and Kabul Administration that Pakistan desires a peaceful Afghanistan and will render all-out support to Kabul for establishment of peace in that country.

In the meeting, Gen Bajwa assured President Ghani that Pakistan believes in a peace process in Afghanistan which Afghan-led and Afghan-owned with mutual consensus of all stakeholders.

Indeed, peace in Afghanistan will guarantee regional peace in the South and Central Asia and especially the peace in Pakistan.

During the meeting, President Ghani appreciated the role of Pakistan and Pak Army towards peace making in Afghanistan.

Taking a total different and pessimistic position by President Ashraf Ghani just in four days was quite Estranged and disappointing.

In the interview he said, “The question of peace or hostility is now in Pakistani hands.” In his opinion, Pakistan is responsible for everything in Afghanistan.

Such a pessimistic mind-set indeed goes against his own status as the Chief Executive of the State.

After expressing his disappointing opinions, President Ghani demanded the Europe and Germany to impose sanctions on Pakistan, if it continues with the involvement in Afghan affairs.

This was quite humiliating and low on the part of President Ghani. Rather being thankful to the State of Pakistan and its masses he tried to stab Pakistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan later conveyed its concern to Afghan Ambassador in Islamabad over the interview of President Ghani.

The state of FO says, “Pakistan has emphasised that groundless accusations erode trust and vitiate environment between the two countries and disregard the constructive role being played by Pakistan in facilitating the Afghan peace process.

The Afghan side has been urged to effectively utilise available forums, like the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity, to address all bilateral issues.”

Earlier, Taliban had seriously reacted to the changed schedule of pulling out of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan.

Taliban demanded that already agreed timetable for the pull-out of US forces must be followed.

Russia also criticised the Biden Administration over the revised schedule for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

The violation of mutually agreed deadline has also put a question mark on the credibility of the superpower, since the security team (Pentagon) brokered the agreement is same.

In the event of any compulsion, the other party (Taliban) could have been taken into confidence which would have allowed a smooth implementation of new schedule.

The pull-out of 2500 U.S troops and over 7000 NATO forces have already started from May 1, 2021 which will be completed by September 11, 2021.

Nevertheless, President Joe Biden has warned the Taliban for accountability in the wordings, “We will hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the US or its allies from Afghan soil.

The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well”. This bullying of President Biden is a yet another step, which may infuriate the Taliban to cooperate with US and Kabul regime.

After all, US and NATO forces could not overthrow the Taliban in the last almost two decades.

Therefore, aggressive tone by the President of a defeated superpower neither sound logical nor would delight the Taliban which won the war on ground.

Meanwhile, Taliban warned the neighbouring states against providing any military bases to the withdrawing US forces.

The withdrawing US forces have already started handing over its military bases in Afghanistan to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

It is, therefore, time that ANSF must consolidate the local security of the areas being vacated by US Army.

Meanwhile Mr Ghani and his Administration must take Taliban on board, rather accusing Pakistan for his inefficiency.

Afghan NDS must prove its loyalty with Afghanistan rather with RAW and India. NDS must stop supporting TTP and PTM, since both are creating militancy and unrest in Pakistan.

Accusing Pakistan for all the inadequacies of Kabul regime is nothing else but its utter failure and haplessness.

Such allegations will not work anymore. Kabul cannot scapegoat Pakistan for its own failure.

The people of Afghanistan are highly depressed owing to failure of Ghani regime in managing the governmental affairs.

The only way forward for the Ghani Administration is to take Taliban on board and seriously negotiate the reconciliation and peace process with them.

Taliban is a reality in Afghanistan which was accepted by the US after two decades of unsuccessful military invasion and oppressive military operations.

This reality has to be accepted by Kabul regime, if at all it is serious in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The state, its military and people of Pakistan are all for facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan. This can be done only if Kabul regime gets serious and realistic.

Ghani and his Administration must own and lead the peace process with Taliban as “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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