Afghan Peace Talks
Terrorism and extremism has engulfed global community and is putting international peace in jeopardy. Global efforts are required to deal with the growing threats of terrorism. Terrorism is proliferating in the society due to lack of will to and joint efforts against them. There are some countries who are direct victims of terrorism and sacrificed their citizens like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan is playing a role of front line country to fight against terrorism where NATO and U.S. forces are fighting against the so called insurgent group Taliban. Pakistan comes after Afghanistan who have lost 70000 its citizens.
Insurgent group “Taliban” remained in the power in 1990s in Afghanistan and were overthrown by the U.S. after the attack on World Trade Centre in 2001. Since then America is battling with this group with NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan. When President Barack Obama came into power, he announced some changes in America’s Afghan strategy and withdrawal of its troops from the land lock country but failed to do so due to global pressure. His successor Donald Trump said many times in his election campaign that U.S. will not stay in Afghanistan and pulled out its forces from Afghanistan. Unfortunately! He did the same what Obama had done. President Trump announced to send 5000 more troops to Afghanistan in 2017.
Since last year, America is making some concrete efforts to bring the Afghan War to its end and Taliban on the negotiating table. America held secret talks with the Taliban group in their political office in Doha. But remained unsuccessful. After the appointment of Zalmy Khalilzad as American Special Advisor to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a ray of hope arise for peace in the region. Khalilzad is making some serious efforts to bring Taliban to the negotiating table. He is frequently visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan to finalize a comprehensive plan for peace in Afghanistan. American State Department has confirmed his secret meeting with Taliban officials in their political office in Doha.
Strategic location of Afghanistan is compelling America and Russia to act offensively in Afghanistan to bring Taliban on the table. American officials held series of meeting with the Taliban but nothing significant achieved so far. Taliban leadership asked American administration to fulfil their initial demand that is withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan. American doesn’t seems interested in this demand. Russian is another strategic players in the region who wants to play a role of peace broker in Afghanistan and many some serious efforts for establishing peace in the Afghanistan. Russia recently hosted Afghan peace talks where representatives of Pakistan, Russia and Taliban participated. Interestingly, Afghan government and American officials refused to back and participate in Russian led initiative for Afghan peace. However, America sent its delegation as observer. Both Afghanistan and America asserted that they will only accept Afghan led peace talks. Afghanistan’s government appointed High Peace Council (HPC) participated in the talks led by Russia. Interestingly, India for the first time participated in the talks and shared a table with the Taliban.
Indian participation in the talks is positive step and should be continued in future to achieve peace in the region. There are two sides of Indian participation of the Indian sides, first, since India has strong footings in Afghanistan and has American support, so it has become a major stakeholder in the peace talks. Secondly, in a positive manner, it is matter of regional stability and peace. Thus, without taking India into account, the peace process cannot be concluded. In negative, India wants to have strategic influence in Afghanistan to counter Pakistan strategically. India viewed Afghanistan a strategic ally. It’s like circling Pakistan. India participation also shows its intentions to actively remain in Afghanistan if America announced its complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. After that withdrawal, India will try to strong its footholds to keep a close watch on Pakistan. Similarly, India is projecting itself as major and emerging global players in the region.
So at the end, no matter who is engaging and bringing Taliban to the negotiating table, what matter is peace in Afghanistan. Every country should play its part to bring back peace in Afghanistan apart from their political and strategic interests. Humanity matters a lot. Millions of Afghan and Pakistani people have suffering due to terrorist activities. America and Russia should set their political and strategic objectives aside and support efforts for peace. Especially Afghan and America should support Russian efforts to if they are serious about bringing peace in Afghanistan. It is right of Afghan people to live in the peaceful and terror free society. In that regard, international collaboration is dire need of the time.
Asad Malik is Mphil scholar in Quaid e Azam university Islamabad. His area of interests is South Asian politics. The author is also a write in various International newspapers.
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