Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Peace Process – A Controversial Issue without Result

Afghan peace process has been a controversial issue since 2010 and made the national and international headlines after the talks between the Taliban and US representatives were ushered in. Afghans fluctuated between hope and fear as talks were in progress.
Obama administration for the first time authorized talks with the Taliban in September 2010. Tayyab Agha, a close confidant to the Taliban’s founding leader Mullah Omar, has been authorized by him to test the waters and make contacts with the US side.
In January 2009, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Richard Holbrooke as the US’ special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, he failed to win Obama’s confidence; Obama complained about his mannerisms. With Holbrooke’s sudden death in 2010, Marc Grossman assumed the position.
Aga acknowledged the mistakes of the Taliban leadership in the past, underlined the necessity of having good relationships with the outside world and better relations with all Afghan ethnicities. He is cited as saying, “Our leadership in Pakistan send their girls to school and even universities. We realize the importance of girls’ education for homes and the country.”
The US incumbent President Donald Trump is believed to have his eyes fixed on fulfilling his campaign promise to bring US troops home in time for the 2020 US presidential election as it has been reported that he seeks to reduce the number of the US troops in Afghanistan. However, he sought to put pressure on the Taliban by cancelling the talks and it was proved effective.
Meeting last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Trump to resume peace talks with the Taliban. “There’s not going to be a military solution. For nineteen years if you have not been able to succeed, you’re not going to be able to succeed in another nineteen years,” Khan said. He added, “There needs to be some sort of a peace deal. There has to be a political settlement.”
A Peshawar-based expert on Afghan affairs Rahimullah Yusufzai sees “bright” chances for resumption of the talks. He said, “Both sides are testing each other’s nerves. But ultimately, they will agree on resumption of talks as they have realized the fact that there is no other solution.” According to him, Washington is more “rigid” and wants “something extra” from the Taliban to justify resuming the talks.
Inclusion of the Afghan government in the talks is the demand of both Washington and Kabul, which has been turned down by the Taliban on several occasions. Afghan officials believe that resuming talks without the presence of the Kabul administration would be unproductive.
Last week, however, some political parties called on Taliban to hold negotiations with the Afghan political leaders, alleging that President Ghani government lacks a stable stance in great national issues. To one’s unmitigated surprise, they offered an interim government to run peace talks despite the presidential elections held.
Although there has been lack of trust between the Afghan government and political parties during the National Unity Government, the demand of the political parties is neither acceptable nor reasonable. The result of the election should be announced first, then the Kabul administration should negotiate with the Taliban from a legitimate point.
I have pointed out in my commentaries that including the Afghan government as well as regional stakeholders in the peace talks will bear a better result. Regional and global stakeholders have to put their weight behind the talks so as to pressure the Taliban leadership to declare truce and directly negotiate with the Kabul government.
Recently, some neighboring countries have vowed to support Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace talks, which indicates that the inclusion of the Kabul government in the talks is a must.
Although struggles for talks with the Taliban leadership started in 2010, when the Afghan government established the High Peace Council, there is still no tangible result and the Taliban fighters intensified their terrorist activities against the Ghani administration. The Taliban were unlikely to be sincere in the talks as their militancy continued unabated, and they declared their spring attacks this year.
Meanwhile, regional stakeholders showed sporadic support to the talks, which failed to bear the desired result. Hence, two issues are very essential in the talks: First, regional stakeholders should support the process in a continued and regular way. Second, the Taliban should stop playing a foul game and negotiate with their Afghan and international interlocutors with genuine intention.