Afghan peace process


Asad Hussain

BEFORE the invasion of Soviet Union on Afghanistan in 1979, the latter was little known to the world outside the Asian continent. Historically, the archaeologists and historians considered this piece of land merely a landlocked State in Asia and reminded its geographical importance due to ancient region coinciding its territories. Before becoming a geographically and strategically significant region, this track was known as Bactria. The region of Bactria was invaded by Alexander in 329 BCE but failed to win the laurels. The Britishers launched their expeditions in (1839-42; 1878-80) and they also bit the dust. The Soviet Union also tried its luck by invading Afghanistan during the cold war era (1979-88) to suppress this region and the former was torn into pieces but the latter remained unconquered. In the last resort, American administration – to satiate its bellicose intensions – waged the bloody war in Afghanistan under the banner of twin towers attack on 9/11 which is still in action completing its 18 years and demonstrating extreme bloodshed, chaos and mayhem.
All these great powers remained unsuccessful to capture this piece of land owing to its deep-seated resistance fighters, ethno-centric mentality and unyielding belligerence. Like other powers, the US has also come to proceed through peace and table talks. This clearly means that the world superpower has come on its knees to solve Afghan quagmire which is popularly termed as ‘Graveyard of Empires’ and ‘Bleeding Wound for the entire world’. Therefore, it would not be unfair to surmise that the Afghan conundrum would be solved through negotiations. The US Administrations spearheaded by Donald Trump has entered into the seventh round of talks with the Afghan factions – who were primarily labelled by Americans as terrorists and peace spoilers, which means that the US is finding an escape-route to avert further damage to American economic resources and military casualties in Afghanistan. After entering the Oval Office, Trump has clearly signalled the bureaucracy to conclude a deal which could best serve the US interests in Afghanistan. Trump ordered to do this at the earliest and soonest or in the other case he would pull the rug from under their feet.
In the recent era, when the negotiations between the US and Taliban factions were in the pipeline, these were disrupted by the American Administration through carrying out drown strikes and killing the most important personnel of Afghan factions. Therefore, the past negotiations to end this bloody war failed to achieve any substantial laurels owing to American non serious attitude, as peace talks and killings cannot move together. Therefore, Murree talks-2015 were postponed indefinitely due to Mullah Umer’s death. Quadrilateral Coordination Group — June 2016 containing member the US, Afghanistan, China and Pakistan — was also disrupted after the mysterious killing of Mullah Akhter Mansoor. The Moscow peace talks and Heart of Asia talks also landed in fiasco. Hence, leading a peaceful agreement remained in doldrums owing to American reluctance.
However, in the ongoing US-Taliban engagement to maintain peace in the blood-soaked and war-ravaged country, the US intention seems much different. The US has also called on the regional players to shoulder the responsibility by playing their constructive role to bring peaceful atmosphere in the war-ridden Afghan land. The current seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the US administrations is revolving around following three main agendas: 1) The withdrawal of US led NATO forces from the Afghanistan. 2) Complete truce and peaceful atmosphere in Afghanistan and insurgents would not assault on Afghan and American forces. 3) The negotiations would be intra-Afghan; incorporating members of Afghan Government as well. However the current deadlock and stalemate persists as Afghan factions don’t want to bring the Afghan government in the ambit of peace talks with the US as they consider them the puppet regime of the US. But, US wants Afghan government to be the part of this process as the US wants to control the Afghan power corridors through her installed governments in Afghanistan. Peace talks are proceeding and both the groups are showing their willingness as Taliban have also acceded the US demand to bring Afghan government in the mainstream talks.
Therefore, both parties are striving to reach an agreement of withdrawal of US 20,000 troops; most of them American staying in Afghanistan to assist, train and advise Afghan forces. Taliban are also asked to cut their ties with Al-Qaeda and all other insurgents groups. According to UN reports, the US and Afghan forces have killed more civilians than other militants in the last few years. Therefore, Taliban yearn for peace once they expel the aggressors from their land. Moreover, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report has also outlined certain findings. SIGAR is of the view that the long-awaited deal between the Afghanistan and the US administration is supposed to yield certain threats. These include endemic corruption, reintegration of ex-combatants, restricted oversight, threats to women rights, sluggish economic growth, widespread insecurity, illicit narcotics trade and underdeveloped policing. Therefore, if the US is seriously yearning for peace and development in the war-torn country — Afghanistan, then US must form a comprehensive plan of withdrawal with appropriate mechanism of restructuring Afghanistan to avert the aforementioned threats. The US should revamp Afghan destroyed infrastructure, improve its education system, ameliorate dwindling health issues and conducting free and fair elections with US influence by giving Afghan Taliban an appropriate share in the governance. Only this form of setup would steer the Afghan peace process from the troubled waters to the safe shores.
— The writer is a freelance columnist based in Quetta.