Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 22nd, 2021

The ‘Afghanistan Papers’ Unfold Roadblocks to Counterterrorism

The focus of discussion between the Taliban and US representatives at the negotiating table in the Qatari capital of Doha will be reduction of violence that could lead to a ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue. The Taliban negotiators consult with their top leadership in Pakistan whether or not to declare ceasefire.
It appears that the issue of ceasefire has been controversial between the Taliban leaders and their military commanders. It is said that the Peshawar Shura, which has the largest number of Taliban leaders, had made a positive decision on the ceasefire. However, the Quetta Shura, which is mostly military, had different views on the ceasefire. Former members of the Taliban hope that the views of the group’s politicians and militaries will be coordinated.
Recently, the AP has reported that the Taliban’s ruling council agreed Sunday to a transient ceasefire but added that it was unclear when the ceasefire would begin.
The conflict in Afghanistan has been highly controversial recently with the release of the Paper by the Washington Post, which quoted US officials repeatedly blamed Pakistan for undermining their war effort in Afghanistan. The Post series quotes an unnamed former White House officials interviewed in 2015, marveling at the billions of dollars given to Pakistan to help fight terrorism, lamenting, “Yet Pakistani military and intelligence leaders never stopped supporting the Afghan Taliban and giving sanctuary to its leaders”.
In another interview in 2015, an unnamed official “complained that the Obama administration would not let US troops attack Taliban camps on the Pakistani side of the border”.
Ryan C Croker, US ambassador to Pakistan (2004-2007), said, “Pakistani leaders did not bother to hide their duplicity.” Recounting a conversation with Gen Ashfaq Kayani, then DG ISI, while discussing the Haqqanis and Quetta Shura, he detailed, “And he [Kayani] says, ‘You know, I know you think we’re hedging our bets. You’re right, we are, because one day you’ll be gone again, it’ll be like Afghanistan the first time, you’ll be done with us, but we’re still going to be here because we can’t actually move the country. And the last thing we want with all of our other problems is to have turned the Taliban into a mortal enemy, so yet, we’re hedging our bets’.”
However, Islamabad had denied harboring and supporting the Taliban the way it denied supporting Afghan Mujahidin during the invasion of the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But Pakistani former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan, confessed Islamabad’s support to the Taliban on several occasions. 
It is believed that a destabilized Afghanistan is less likely to be in the interests of any country. Regional and global stakeholders in general and Afghanistan’s neighboring countries in particular have to play a constructive role in stabilizing Afghanistan. In the ongoing peace talks between the Taliban leadership and Washington, the regional stakeholders, mainly Pakistan, should use their leverage to broker intra-Afghan dialogue and pressure the Taliban to reduce violence.
It is self-explanatory that if Afghanistan’s neighboring states, mainly Pakistan, joined Afghanistan in its campaign against terrorism and insurgency, the Taliban would be defeated years ago.
Recently, Washington has softened its tone towards Islamabad with the hope that it would use its leverage on the Taliban regarding the talks. Pakistani officials have promised their US counterparts to support the talks, but the Taliban have not been pressured to reduce violence or negotiate with the Kabul administration.
It is still time for regional states, who did not play a positive role in the Afghan issue, to change their positions and engage constructively in the Afghan peace process. That is, giving lip service to the peace talks and promising again and again without taking practical steps will lead to increasing mistrust.
Regional states are expected to put pressure on the Taliban to declare ceasefire, reduce their violence, and reach an agreement with the US and Afghanistan.
The Taliban should understand that the transient ceasefire to be declared by their leadership have to include the Afghan government, too, or else it would carry no significance and would not pave the ground for intra-Afghan dialogue.
Based on the Afghanistan’s Paper, the war in Afghanistan had been highly confusing and complicated and approached with a shoot-first-ask-question-later attitude and it was not clear whether Pakistan was a friend or an adversary, despite all the claims made by Pakistan officials that they fought against terrorism.
With the passage of time, more aspects of the war in Afghanistan will be revealed and the states who supported the Taliban or challenged their activities in Afghanistan will be known to the world. Afghanistan’s younger and future generations will judge the role of regional states and the neighboring countries in the ongoing conflict.