New impediments in Afghan peace process | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan


New impediments in Afghan peace process

PRESIDENT Joe Biden new schedule of pulling out United Sates and NATO forces from Afghanistan has created many impediments and uncertainties for the success of Afghan peace process.

Taliban have seriously reacted to the changed schedule and threatened to restart their offensive against foreign forces and Afghan Government.

Besides, there is reluctance among the ranks of Taliban over the future attendance of any conference about the peace in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Naeem Wardak, the spokesperson of Taliban said that, “Until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland, the Islamic Emirate will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan.”

Taliban desired fulfilment of the May 1, 2021 deadline by US, as agreed between them and US on February 29, 2020.

The UN backed Turkish hosts Afghan peace summit, scheduled from April 24 to May 4 is aimed to end the two decades war through a possible political settlement.

Under the Biden’s new scheduled for the pull-out of US forces Taliban have shown their unwillingness to join the peace summit.

Such a development will be a great setback for the peace efforts, envisioned through this summit.

A consensus attained in the presence of Afghan Government and Taliban would have paved the way for a conducive and durable peace in Afghanistan.

Apart from Taliban, Russia also criticised the Biden Administration over the revised schedule for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

The statement issued from Russian Foreign Ministry said, “What is concerning in this context is that the armed conflict in Afghanistan might escalate in the near future, which in turn might undermine efforts to start direct intra-Afghan negotiations.”

The Russian criticism has logic that, such a delay and violation of agreement without consent of parties engaged will create distrust between the Whitehouse and Taliban on one hand and between Kabul Administration and Taliban on the other hand.

Indeed, White House must have respected the deadline, it already agreed, irrespective of change in administration.

The violation of mutually agreed deadline has also put a question mark on the credibility of the super power, since the security team (Pentagon) brokered the agreement is same.

In the event of any compulsion, the other party (Taliban) could have been taken into confidence which would have allowed a smooth implementation of new schedule.

In order to create a relevance between the earlier agreement and revised plan, Joe Biden administration hinted at starting the pull-out of the US troops numbering 2500 along with 7000 NATO troops in May 2021 and completing it by September 11, 2021.

Nevertheless, President Joe Biden has warned the Taliban for accountability in the wordings, “We will hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the US or its allies from Afghan soil. The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well”.

This threatening language of President Biden is a yet another step, which may infuriate the Taliban to cooperate with US and Kabul regime. After all, U.S and NATO forces could not defeat the Taliban in last almost two decades.

Therefore, a threatening tone by the President of a defeated power neither sound logical nor would delight the rival forces (Taliban) which won the war on ground.

A careful selection of the words would have been a facing saving for American President and Pentagon.

Such a threat would provide Taliban with an excuse to restart their armed conflict against their stated rivals.

Then, the sole argument Taliban have been pursuing in their fight against Kabul regime and foreign troops was to ‘clear Afghanistan from foreign forces.’

The Reuters however has revealed yet another veiled pre-condition for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in the revised plan even.

Reuter’s news agency quoted anonymous inside US sources that U.S and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan will be accomplished only, if it is “based on certain security and human rights guarantees”.

In fact, such guarantees cannot be given in a country like Afghanistan which is tribal in its very nature and infighting among the tribes has persisted for centuries.

Then the human rights violations committed by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan in last two decades are unparalleled.

There are horrifying tales of human rights violations by US and NATO troops in their prolonged invasion of this war-torn country. U.S marines were found urinating on the bodies of Afghan nationals, after they were killed.

Then, presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan is one of the major causes for insecurity and uncertainties in that country.

An analytical review of the Joe Biden’s revised withdrawal plan indicates more impediments and uncertainties then resolution and return of peace in Afghanistan.

The violations of an earlier agreed time-table and snags attached with revised pull-out plan are adequately aimed at frustrating Taliban to restart their offensive against foreign forces and Afghan Government; the beginning of a new civil war.

The new civil war and conflict will cause insecurity on one hand and human rights violations on the other; the excuses US needs to further postpone withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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