Prospects for peace in Afghanistan


Dr Muhammad Khan

IN the past two centuries, Afghanistan has been at the centre of global power politics. It has overwhelmingly suffered during the great game between Tsarist Russia and British India in late 19th and early 20thcenturies. The Soviet invasion and later US covert war against USSR in 1980s had significantly affected the state and society of this country pushing millions of migrants in Pakistan. The global war on terror was the latest round of power politics, which further destabilised Afghan state for the vested interests of the super power. All these wars and regional and international conspiracies left the country and its masses in lurch. Unfortunately, there is no let-up in the infighting and chaos in Afghanistan. Afghans are sick-of this continual war like situation and uncertainty. The Peace Agreement between US and Taliban has yet to prove beneficial for bring peace in Afghanistan. There are many countries still conspiring against peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always endeavoured for a peace and stability in Afghanistan. With the same motivation, the Pakistani Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa had a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah during his day-long visit to Kabul on June 9, 2020. During the meeting Pakistan once again offered facilitation in the on-going peace process between Afghan Government and Taliban. Indeed, Taliban are very important stakeholders in Afghanistan and there cannot be any peace until this wider segment of Afghan society is taken on board. Then, if they can force the super power for negotiations and an agreement on their terms, Kabul regime cannot be exception.
As per the statements issued from both sides, Islamabad and Kabul had reiterated that their soil will not be used against each other by a third country. “They also discussed that the soil of the two countries would not be used against each other.” General Bajwa vowed Pakistani support for the sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan based on its established democratic and political system. President Ghani and his aid lauded the role played by Pakistan towards Afghan peace process. The ISPR stated “Both sides discussed current developments in the Afghan peace process, necessary steps to facilitate [the] Afghan-led and owned peace process and facilitation of trade and connectivity.” Having analysed the decades of uneven relationship between both Muslim states, it is concluded that, a better and all engaging bilateral relationship between Islamabad and Kabul would pave the way for a durable peace in Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan would be a precursor for the broader peace in the region. Pakistan will be the fundamental beneficiary of the peace in Afghanistan. What all General Bajwa and his team wanted to convey Kabul regime that, Pakistan is enthusiastic for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Bajwa also communicated President Ghani and his team that, Islamabad will render all out assistance for the peace within Afghanistan. However, the initiative for establishment of the peace has to be taken by Kabul; it has to be Afghan owned and Afghan led.
With the highest Pakistani military delegation which also included chief of ISI, the Ashraf Ghani Government must understand the sincerity and seriousness about peace in Afghanistan at Islamabad. Without peace in Afghanistan, the region surrounding it will remain in turmoil. The turmoil has in fact negatively impacted Pakistan from all perspective; political, social and economic. Pakistan has been constantly hit by terrorism sponsored from Afghan soil by its eastern neighbour. This traditional rival of Pakistan has deliberately kept Afghanistan in a state of chaos and constant civil war since 2001, since instability and civil war there would provide it with a pretext to remain entrenched in that country. Peace in Afghanistan would leave India without any excuse to stay there anymore. The US-Taliban Agreement of February 29, 2020 has yet to show positive results. There is a trust deficient between Ashraf Ghani Government and the Taliban leadership. The promised release of Taliban prisoners was delayed by Afghan Government and then there have been attacks on each other’s locations. As per US intelligence some of these attacks were undertaken by Daesh (ISIS-Khorasan) and other militant groups to defame Taliban. These attacks were sponsored by the nexus of RAW and NDS both opposed the peace agreement between US and Taliban. For the betterment of Pak-Afghan bilateral relationship, President Ashraf Ghani must start viewing Pakistan from the perspective of an Afghan. Unfortunately, the post 9/11 leadership of Afghanistan have been viewing Pakistan either from the perspective of New Delhi or Washington. An original Afghan perspective, emanating from the masses of this war-torn country has always been missing. The original Afghan perspective about Pakistan is a country which has always rendered all-out support and brotherly relationship with the people of Afghanistan. All Pakistan wants for the people of Afghanistan is the return of peace and stability with the openings of economic opportunity and prosperity for the state and society of that country. The Bajwa-Ghani meeting has increased the prospects for peace and stability in Afghanistan. United States and regional countries must facilitate the process for establishment of durable peace in this war-torn country.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.