Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Afghan Peace Process: Gaining Success Gradually

The Moscow meeting on Afghan peace process was kicked off on Friday with delegations from High Peace Council (HPC), the Taliban and 12 countries in attendance. The Moscow summit’s agenda is the Afghan peace process and providing the facility for peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Afghanistan conflict has been in stalemate for several decades. And Afghan war on terror is one of the longest US wars too. However, the Taliban has demonstrated a surprising ability to survive and conduct high-profile attacks in cities like Kabul, it is weaker today than most recognize. It is hamstrung by an ideology that is too extreme for most Afghans, a leadership structure that is too closely linked to the Pashtun ethnic group, an over-reliance on brutal tactics that have killed tens of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians and alienated many more, a widespread involvement in corruption, and a dependence on unpopular foreign allies. Most senior Taliban leaders still hope that they will one day be able to re-take Kabul, overthrow the Afghan government, and establish an extreme Islamic emirate in the country. But given the group’s weaknesses and the United States’ decision to keep troops in Afghanistan that is unlikely.
On the other hand, president Ghani has offered the Taliban a political framework for peace talks. According to the Afghan government’s political framework for talks there are no preconditions to negotiations while underscoring that the rights of all citizens, especially Afghan women, must be safeguarded. This framework produces a ceasefire, the Taliban’s registration as a political party, and participation in an electoral process. The legal framework for peace that include a constitutional review through legal mechanisms as well as legal processes for prisoner releases and sanctions release. This framework suggests methods for reaching peace, such as official recognition of the Afghan government, respect for rule of law, further efforts for government reform and balanced development, the return of Afghan refugees, programs for social development including for refugees and former insurgents, and security measures for all citizens, particularly the reconciling Taliban, underscoring the need for a dignified process, and very important elements such an office for the Taliban, a path towards travel documents, being allowed to travel freely, help in the removal of sanctions, access to the media, and repatriation for their families.
As the the United States, conditions-based South Asia Strategy ensures the Taliban cannot win on the battlefield, both Taliban and Afghan government and its allies have no options but to negotiate to put an end to the conflict.  what remains uncertain at this point, however, are the answers to two overarching questions: How will key regional stakeholders—Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China, and India—manage shifting interests and threat perceptions at a time when the United States is pushing for a peace deal, and is there a contingency plan if talks fail? While pushing for a comprehensive political settlement, complexities associated with internal political dynamics and regional posturing add to the levels of fluidity and uncertainty. It is, therefore, imperative to have contingency plans in case talks are delayed or thwarted. A Plan B would be the least all parties could do in order to prevent a further debacle.
Bringing both sides of the Afghan conflict to Moscow is still a major success for Russia as the Kremlin seeks to reclaim its clout and influence on the world stage. However, the key to the latest Afghan peace process successes lays in the nature of the Afghan government pragmatic peace policies. It has proven abilities and charm to win over all the factions and major players; it has practiced the art of compromise; it should innovate its diplomacy in ways ensuring the protection of the basic rights of all ethnic groups of Afghanistan and ensure all of the ethnic groups that inhabit this country live side by side peacefully and happily.