Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 15th, 2021

Pursing Peace Process ‘Shared Responsibility’

Since terrorist groups are a threat to the entire globe, regional and global stakeholders have to put their weight behind the Afghan peace process to find a negotiated settlement to the conflict, in which the US-led NATO forces are involved for 18 years.
This time, the US officials are optimistic about more active and constructive engagement of Pakistan to the negotiations. In his visit with the US President Donald Trump, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that terrorist groups took the lives of 70,000 people in Pakistan. It has been reiterated several times that terrorism is a common threat to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. And Trump urges for the bigger role of Islamabad in Afghan peace process. Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continue to support the process in good faith adding that a peace deal with the Taliban was closer than it had ever been. He called pursuing the process “a shared responsibility”.
Afghanistan has declared its full preparation for the talks and said that it had a clear roadmap for talks. “The Afghan government has a clear roadmap for the peace process. One of the main principles of this process is its all-inclusiveness,” President Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Seddiqqi is cited as saying.
But the ifs and buts of peace talks continue and women’s rights and liberties still remain a cause for concern. A former MP Fawzia Koofi said, “We are very concerned whether Afghan women will have the current liberties after a peace deal with the Taliban. The United Nations’ role in these talks is very weak.”
Simultaneously, doubt and mistrust also continues about the outcome of peace talks. Earlier, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani said in his interview with TOLOnews, an Afghan media outlet, that “the Taliban’s real intention is to talk to the Americans, have an agreement that will result in an American withdrawal and after that, go ahead and take Afghanistan by force”. Haqqni also said that the Taliban would have recognized the legitimacy of the government in Kabul “if they were sincere about peace”.
He said, “I think if the United States announces a withdrawal and Pakistan gets a lot of concessions thinking that Pakistan has helped that peace process but there is no real peace,” Haqqani is cited as saying.
But Sediqqi said that the return of the Taliban as a regime is not possible adding that Afghanistan was different than 18 years ago.
It is not a problem for Kabul or Washington if Pakistan is seeking concessions in the Afghan peace process but she has to play her role actively in ending the conflict and brokering talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
In June 2018, Pakistan was placed on the gray list due to its “strategic deficiencies” in the anti-money-laundering and terrorism financing regime pushed by the US. Political pundits believe that Pakistan needs US help to stave off the looming threat of being blacklisted by the Paris-based terror financing TATF.
Pakistan played a role in the peace process through releasing the Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar from Pakistani prison. Khan pledged playing more role and meeting with the Taliban to urge them negotiate with the Kabul government.
Trump seeks to wrap up US military involvement in Afghanistan and get an agreement between the Afghan powerbrokers and the Taliban in time for his November 2020 re-election bid since he called himself a “problem solver” in his August 2017 speech declaring his South Asia policy.
Pushing for negotiated settlement to the conflict is a shared responsibility of not only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the US, but of the entire global stakeholders. All states have to play active and constructive role in the process to mitigate regional instability.
Regarding the Taliban’s approach, the Taliban are unwilling to say to their military commanders that they will negotiate with the Afghan government. With this in mind, the Taliban leadership urges that it will not talk with the Kabul administration as a government. It is understandable that it is hard for the Taliban to justify it ideologically for their militant fighters and military commanders.
After all the cynical view and optimism, will peace talks come to fruition? It is believed that peace talks have entered a crucial phase and it is likely to bear the desired result if regional and global stakeholders and Afghanistan’s neighboring countries engage constructively and play their role responsibly in the process. Peace talks are a shared responsibility for global stakeholders. They need to put their energy and sincerity to find a negotiated settlement to the conflict.