Afghan peace process facilitators & spoilers | By M Zahid Rifat 


Afghan peace process facilitators & spoilers

AFGHANISTAN is an important state approximately situated in the Central Asia.

Afghanistan has its borders in the east and south with Pakistan and uses the sea route via Pakistan.

Both countries have about 2600 kilometres long border fencing of which is nearing its completion for ensuring hostile and anti-peace elements from crossing into Pakistan with ulterior motives. Afghanistan has been suffering from wars since 1970s.

After the brutalities of the civil war, the country was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979 and after its withdrawal without achieving the desired objectives and suffering heavy losses, US attacked Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 terrorist/militants attacks on New York and Washington DC in 2001.

Has suffered the most due to wars and instability in Afghanistan has lost billions of dollars and thousands of armed forces, security agencies personnel and civilians including women and children in the war on terror which the USA had started.

Pakistan has been supporting the peace process in Afghanistan and had played key role in bringing the Taliban and the US on negotiating table and both sides signing the peace deal in Doha, Qatar, on February 29, 2020 as a prelude to end the longest war in the US history.

Pakistan played a positive and constructive role in this regard as a facilitator for Afghan peace process and its efforts were duly appreciated and acknowledged not only by the US leadership but also other peace loving countries around the world.

Pakistan while bringing the two sides on the negotiating table has also been stressing upon the Afghan government and the USA to keep close eyes on the spoilers many of which are active here, there and everywhere to see that the ongoing Afghan peace process is derailed before its cherished objectives are realized.

In pursuance of the Doha Peace Agreement signed between the US and the Taliban through the positive contributions made by Pakistan, on US new President Joe Biden’s orders withdrawal of US and its led NATO forces withdrawal had started with effect from May 01, 2021 and the withdrawal is scheduled to be completed by another 9/11 on 11 September 2021 marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist and militants attacks on New York and Washington DC.

Dialogue is the only meaningful solution to end the long war in Afghanistan and let peace return to the war-torn country as early as possible.

Pakistan has played its vital role in bringing the Taliban on the negotiating table with the US and signing the Doha Agreement.

Pakistan has been striving hard for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, has been the most affected neighbouring country from the longevity of the Afghan war which was not in the favour of the whole region in particular as well as the world powers on the whole.

Civil and military leadership of Pakistan as the facilitator have all along been stressing on the Afghan-led and the Afghan-owned peace process.

But if Pakistan is there as the facilitator of the long-evasive Afghan peace process and US also wanting to end the longest war and withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, there are also spoilers on this much wanted and desired peace process.

It is apparent that the Afghan government itself is not happy with the positive and constructive role played by Pakistan in the peace process.

The Afghan government headed by President Ashraf Ghani is resorting to sorts of delaying tactics to derail this peace initiative somehow or the other.

Spoilers are trying their hard to derail this peace initiative and secure their vested interests by continuously using the soil of Afghanistan with ulterior objectives,

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his close aides are apparently unhappy with the peace agreement as they believe this has put the Taliban in the driving seat.

This is evident from President Ashraf Ghani’s recent interview to a German newspaper where he had accused Pakistan of covertly supporting the Taliban and allowing the insurgent leaders to direct violence inside Afghanistan.

Foreign Office of Pakistan has strongly denied these baseless allegations levelled by the Afghan President.

The use of filthy language against Pakistan by the National Security Advisor of Afghanistan also cannot be without the consent and approval of the Afghan President.

Indian interests in Afghanistan are also threatened with the ongoing Afghan peace process.

India has been supporting the terrorist outfits in Afghanistan and New Delhi’s nexus with TTP, ISKP and NDS are also well-known, A stable Afghan-Pakistan border is also against the Indian interests.

India has been resorting to terrorist activities inside Pakistan and is obviously opposed to the ongoing process of fencing of the Afghan-Pakistan border a fore-runner to peace and stability.

Afghanistan has been in war for more than four decades and all these years millions of Afghan people have lost their lives.

The Afghan people had fled to Pakistan in the wake of the Soviet Union invasion in pretty large number and over three million are still being hosted by Pakistan to the appreciable acknowledgement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international forums and forces.

Needless to mention here that Pakistan cannot afford persistent instability in Afghanistan as time and again pointed out by its civil and military leadership.

It is also notable that Pakistan is striving for collective development of the region and also willing to make maximum possible contribution to re-building of Afghanistan once the complete peace and stability returns to the war-torn country.

Only an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solution can lead to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is genuinely concerned and worried about its immediate western neighbour Afghanistan.

These worries are getting more and more serious and problematic with the passage of time.

The US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan is taking place at much faster pace and is likely to be completed earlier than the stipulated deadline of September 11, 2021 as given by President Joe Biden.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview, has pointed by stated that it is very important for Pakistan to have a political settlement and stability when the Americans leave and a government with consensus is established that could prevent the country from descending into anarchy.

The Prime Minister has quite rightly further said that we are concerned that when the Americans leave, and there is no political settlement, a situation may arise similar to the aftermath of the Soviet Union departure from Afghanistan which will be detrimental to Pakistan as well as other neighbouring countries.

Cutting the long story short and wishing for early return of peace and stability in Afghanistan, as sincerely desired by civil and military leadership of Pakistan, it is also imperative that an international forum comprising the stakeholders is in place to ensure that the desired objectives are achieved, the peace initiative fully supported by Pakistan is not in any manner destroyed by the spoilers like India and even those inside Afghanistan itself.

It is high time that peace is given a fair trial and chance in war-torn Afghanistan to the great encouragement and appreciated by the people and government of Pakistan.

—The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.

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