AFGHANISTAN, a Central Asian country, connected with Pakistan in the East and with Iran in the West is waiting for lasting peace for 40 years. Peace is a state of mind but in Afghanistan’s context, we can say peace is the absence of war. Peace is also the concept of societal friendship and harmony in absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups. Peace in Afghanistan is a bumpy job with many ifs and buts.
From the great games era to the Cold War and war on terror, Afghanistan remained a battlefield for the world powers. Peace in Afghanistan is the primary demand of the Afghani people who suffered heavily. Peace will not only bring stability and prosperity to Afghanistan but, to the entire region, especially neighbouring countries like Pakistan. The ongoing peace process started some eight years back. In 2013, the Taliban political office was established in Doha, Qatar. After years of back-channel contacts between the US and Taliban, both sides publicly announced to have peace talks at the start of 2019. Finally, the landmark peace agreement was signed on 29 February 2020. Following the Doha peace agreement, some confidence-building measures (CBMs) were taken before starting the intra-Afghan dialogue. Thousands of prisoners were exchanged between the Taliban and Afghan government since 29 February 2020. Afghans’ losses could not be projected as the wars have destructed the political and economic structure. It’s hard to assume, but generations were grown up in wars. And hundreds of thousands of Afghans lost their loved ones. There is no political structure in Afghanistan except guns and structure of might is right prevailed in war-ravaged country.
By now both sides are blaming each other for increasing violence; Afghan government demands a comprehensive cease-fire and on the other side, Taliban say they do not recognize the Afghan government as a legitimate party or government to accept their demands. Keeping in mind the current situation of Afghanistan, chaos increases day by day. Prevailing peace will take longer time. At the first phase, since 12 September 2020, both sides agreed on the 22 points agenda and a framework for the intra-Afghan dialogue. Another important missing link is the Afghan people involved in the peace process to know how long people support the Taliban and the government in Afghanistan. Forty years of imposing wars and occupation by foreign troops, it is a good gesture that the representatives from the Government and Taliban came together and started proper negotiations. Peace in Afghanistan meant peace everywhere. Afghanistan is a country which connects South Asia with Central Asia. Being the closest neighbour of Afghanistan, Pakistan can get better opportunities in Central Asian countries.
Peace in Afghanistan will embark a new millennium in Pakistan and vice versa. The US, on the other side, is a major player who spends billions of dollars in its long war while playing the wrong cards. The role of Afghan Government in peace process is very important, and could retain the achievements. On the other hand, the Taliban can secure Afghanistan from foreign troops by imposing peace and leveraging in the economic growth of its country.
—The writer is a scholar at Riphah International University Islamabad.