Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, February 15th, 2019

Pakistan: Playing Masterfully the Peace Game

Afghanistan peace talks is going on between the US and Taliban; leaving Afghan government in the sidelines. The United States and Afghanistan’s Taliban opened a new round of peace talks Monday in Qatar that continued on Thursday. Though Taliban had already rejected the peace talks with the US envoy in Pakistan, they had well prepared for the talks; managing two car bombings, the bombing of Green Village that according to the interior ministry officials killed three Afghan military personnel, and one civilian. However, reports varied on the number of wounded. And some outlets put the number as high as ninety. Among those who wounded, the overwhelming majority of which were civilians, twenty-three were children and twelve were women. The second car bombing last week that wounded more than a hundred people, and more than a hundred more lost their lives was launched on an Afghan military base in Maidan Wardak province. Due to the attack, a member of the US military was killed too, which is expected to impact the Trump administration’s withdrawal plan.
Why, Where and Who Masterminded the Attacks
As the Afghan security forces remain too overstretched to take on the growing menace of the Taliban in different pockets of the country and their high casualty rates, it raises serious doubts about whether they can be an effective provider of security once the US withdraws half of its troops. And as the peace talks is approaching a critical phase, the Afghan Taliban and the strategic supporters of the group tend to make the most benefits out of this process and realizing this goal will be impossible, unless the group has an upper hand in the battlefield. As a result the Afghan Taliban with the support of the intelligence agencies of some external states design and launch its attacks on the areas that these agencies identify as strategic targets.
As the Afghan President has indicated in Daus meeting, Pakistani actors has allegedly kept contributing to the strength of the Taliban in order to avert threats perceived from the American influence in Afghanistan. As Afghan Taliban lack the capacity to launch such attacks, the intelligence evidence show these attacks have are designed in Pakistan supported by ISI.
Why Taliban refused talks in Pakistan
Monday’s meeting was originally set to take place in Pakistan where Khalilzad stayed for several days before traveling to Qatar. Sources said Taliban officials refused to come to Islamabad unless the U.S. side agreed to discuss a withdrawal plan for U.S.-led foreign troops from Afghanistan. However, political commentators believe that, the main reason behind the refusal of the talks have been the immediate advantages Pakistan has been looking for. The first advantage granted to Pakistan, was that when the South Carolina Republican senator, who is considered close to President Donald Trump, spoke after a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan; Graham, in his press conference Sunday, noted Pakistan was taking significant steps under Khan’s leadership to promote Afghan peace and regional security. He praised Pakistan’s effort to fence the 2,600-kilometer largely porous border the country shares with Afghanistan to deter cross-border terrorism. As the issue of Afghan-Pak is one of the main causes of conflict and tensions between the two countries, and its fencing is also one of the causes of tensions between the two, such appreciation means nothing but supporting the Pakistan cause of Durand line. Second, while the peace talks are going on, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Khan also arrived in Doha for official meetings with the Qatari leadership. According to diplomatic sources Khan is likely to make contact with Taliban officials during the visit to encourage them to help in negotiating a political resolution to the Afghan war. The question that requires a true answer is that, who decides on peace talks, Taliban or Pakistan. As it is somehow clear, it is Pakistan that actually identifies where the talks shall be held and what conditions shall be set by Taliban to benefit Pakistan and undermine the national interests of Afghanistan.
In a nutshell, any peace talks without direct involvement and ownership of Afghan government will not end to a peace deal leading to stability in Afghanistan. As, the Afghan peace process has national, regional, Islamic and international dimensions, unless these issues are not ensured, addressing just the Afghan dimension will not result to putting an end to the conflict.