THE telephonic talk of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi with his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar is yet another demonstration of commitment of Pakistan to the Afghan peace process that is currently facing challenges due to the self-centred approach of different players. Qureshi expressed concern over increasing violence in Afghanistan and called for progress in the ongoing intra-Afghan talks in Doha as this would facilitate reduction in violence, leading to ceasefire.
Pakistan is genuinely upset over lack of desired progress in the intra-Afghan dialogue as delay allows spoilers of peace to conspire and complicate the situation further. Pakistan has invested a lot in the peace process as it firmly believes security, stability and economic progress of the region is deeply linked to restoration of durable peace in the war-torn Afghanistan. Islamabad, since the day one, has been sensitizing the international community about likely hurdles by enemies of peace in the way of intra-Afghan dialogue and recent developments confirm its apprehensions were not without reason. Lack of progress in talks is not just triggering fresh violence but is also causing frustration among Afghan people who had pinned hopes on the peace process following a successful accord between the United States and Taliban and agreement on direct talks between the Afghan Government and Taliban. For its own reasons, the Kabul Government was not as keen to make the dialogue process a success as it should have been and unfortunately the latest signals from Washington are encouraging it to persist with its dubious strategy for talks. The announcement of the new US Administration to review peace deal with Taliban to see if Taliban were “living up to their commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders” might be based on genuine concerns but apparently it is wrongly being interpreted by the Kabul Government and as a consequence its already shaky commitment to dialogue would wane further. Kabul wants Taliban to immediately agree to a ceasefire, whereas Taliban fear that doing so would cause them to lose an important leverage in talks. There are fears that Afghanistan might return to full-blown violence if all sides did not demonstrate sincerity to the cause of peace and security.