Afghanistan: From war to peace ? | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi


Afghanistan: From war to peace ?

GLOBALLY yet not surprisingly, much apprehension is being chartered in the western world regarding the de facto Taliban’s control over Afghanistan since the western people think that Afghanistan reels under extremist forces, which is not a good omen.

Nonetheless, this development actually resurrects the emboldened truth of history that as a nation the Afghans have never resigned before a foreign yoke.

As for the resurgent Afghans, through intervention, the western powers were imposing an imperialist agenda against them.

However, the truth is that the politically termed yesterday’s Mujahideen as today’s Taliban will have to form an interim government in Kabul through a peaceful consensus.

Yet, the social, economic and cultural rehabilitation of the Afghans via a liberal reforms agenda— is the gravest responsibility of the future government in Afghanistan.

Needless to say, to emerge in the comity of nations, the Afghan nation has the challenge to rise from the ashes. But this resurrection is only possible through Afghan unity.

The fact remains that the term Taliban was coined in the post-Russian forces withdrawal phase from Afghanistan after 1989.

These local Afghans — who were waging Jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan — were called Mujahideen (now the Taliban).

Actually, the local Afghans are socially stratified into different factions or group-this nature of the Afghan diversity has been wrongly exploited by the Western and Indian ideologues as they utilized the tribal warlords.

Truly, for centuries on end, the Afghans never accepted the tutelage of any foreign powers. It has been an unfortunate estimate made by the Americans and their allied European forces to imagine that they could dictate the Afghans.

From the very beginning, with the war in Afghanistan since 9/11, that there was no military solution to the Afghan problem. This estimate was intermittently conveyed by the sane western and eastern political thinkers.

But the US administrations did never realise the gravity of the situation and they remained adamant about their militarily conceived interventionist agenda’ in Afghanistan.

As for Pakistan, its political and military establishments remain highly convinced that the key to the Afghan problem lies in its political solution.

While talking about any political solution in Afghanistan is tantamount to accepting the reality that it is the moral, democratic right of the people of Afghanistan to choose their government in Kabul.

By no dint of force, the Afghans may be pressurized to cope with any government –chosen by a foreign-driven agenda; and it is why the Ashraf Ghani government had to fall down.

Irrefutably, the western and Indian agenda for the last 30 years has been to use Afghanistan as a launching pad of conspiracies against Pakistan endorsed by the spread of domestic terrorism throughout Pakistan during 2004-2012.

Thanks to the uncompromising dedication and the remarkable services rendered by our defence forces that any such conspiracies were foiled against Pakistan.

In addition, no country other than Pakistan has suffered so badly— because of the 20 years’ war in Afghanistan.

By now, Pakistan finds no better choice than to support a democratic agenda—with the support of China, Russia, and Iran— for the people of Afghanistan, an agenda that could protect the future of the Afghan community in terms of its political settlement.

As for the Afghans, they must realise the need to form a national consensus without any tribal polarization- that the stability of the future Afghanistan gravely lies in the reunification of Afghan unity.

The Taliban must foster such liberal methodology that must refrain them from the ideological bondage of extremism.

The Taliban must end violent extremism. And most importantly, the issue of women’s rights is a core in the making of a stable Afghanistan.

Therefore, we must not ignore the fact that women’s access to health services is now much more limited due to the closure of highways and roads and lack of supplies in clinics in remote areas.

Notably, while travel restrictions and the forced wearing of the Hijab are uniform policies in areas under Taliban control, girls’ access to education is mostly at the discretion of local commanders.

Reportedly, in some areas, such as Faryab province, the Taliban have rightly informed local communities that girls can attend school up to grade 12, while in other areas, girls are only allowed to attend school up to grade six.

In most other places, such as Logar province, girls of all ages are banned from going to school. Women are also forced to cook for the Taliban fighters and wash their clothes.

And undeniably, poverty and illiteracy accompanied by the protracted armed conflict have created a grim socioeconomic situation.

Such as, life expectancy for women in Afghanistan is 43 years, compared to 82 in Switzerland (Swiss women had a life expectancy of 43 years in 1880). The figures are no better for Afghan women.

Sadly, the maternal mortality rate is estimated to be 1,700 per 100,000 live births in Afghanistan, compared to five per 100,000 in Switzerland.

The infant mortality rate (the number of children who die before the age of one) is estimated to be between 160 and 180 per 1,000 live births.

The under-five mortality rate is estimated to be 257 per 1,000 live births. In other words, 25% of all Afghan children never reach the age of five. Indicators in the field of education are no less depressing.

Literacy rates are among the lowest in the world. It is estimated that between 72% and 75% of Afghans cannot read or write.

Unfortunately, this mix of circumstances has had a catastrophic impact on millions of Afghans, most of whom know no life without war.

Nevertheless, it must also be said that Afghans themselves bear a great deal of responsibility for this state of affairs.

Although solidarity and support from abroad will always be important, it is time for Afghan men and women to confront their problems by envisaging a new social contract via home-grown solutions.

To live peacefully the Afghan-Taliban must also ensure the security of the Pakistan-Afghan border.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

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