Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, May 30th, 2020

Regional Concern Over US-Taliban Peace Deal

India and other regional stakeholders appear to be concerned about the peace agreement to be signed between the United States and the Taliban group in presence of leaders of many countries. There is lot of mistrust about the peace deal as many fear that the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan may create a security vacuum and result into destabilization of the South Asian region.
After protracted talks, which at one stage were at the verge of breakdown, the two sides are now ready to ink the deal in Doha. It has raised both fear and hope at the national and international levels. The fear stem from the Taliban’s hardline ideology regarding their approach to Afghans and to the outside world and their affiliation to other radical groups notwithstanding the fact that the Taliban have pledged not to allow al-Qaida and its affiliates to use Afghan soil for terror activities.
India, which has constantly supported the stance of the Kabul government on the talks, is concerned about the outcome of the US-Taliban deal and has expressed its reservation to the White House. However, Indian Envoy P Kumaran will be present at the signing ceremony to be held in Doha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had detailed discussion with US President Donald Trump, who had a recent trip to India, on development in Afghanistan and Trump briefed him about the proposed peace deal.
India has several times in the past conveyed that peace agreement will have serious security implications for the South Asian region and expressed opposition to withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Presence of Indian Ambassador to Qatar at the signing ceremony should not be seen as the Indian government involvement in the negotiations with the Taliban or with the peace agreement.
The Indian government has received invitation from the Qatari government to attend the event.
India remains committed to the Afghan-led or controlled peace process. It participated in the second meeting under the Moscow Format at a non-official level by sending retired envoy TCA Ranghavan.
India and the US in their joint Communique stated that they share interest in the united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan. They support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process that results in a sustainable peace. The Communique reiterated the cessation of violence, elimination of terrorist safe heavens and preservation of the gains of the last 18 years. President trump also welcomed India’s contribution to the developmental projects in Afghanistan.
India has conveyed to America that troop withdrawal should be in a well calculated manner, and it should not lose gains of last 18 years.
Meanwhile, the last 18-year of democratic gains and human rights and women’s rights also carry great significance for Afghan nation and state, which defined them as “red-line” not to be compromised at the peace table.
The national and international concerns are reasonable to some extent. In his op-ed at NYT, former senior officer in the C.I.A, Douglas London, has also doubted the effectiveness of the US-Taliban deal to ensure a sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan saying there is internal mistrust within the Taliban group. London said, “The insurgency’s leaders also face considerable internal resistance to signing a meaningful peace deal. The United States will insist that the Taliban enter negotiations with the American-backed government in Kabul and allow a residual force of American troops to remain inside Afghanistan to attack Islamic State and Al Qaeda forces.” He adds, “But it is hard to imagine the Taliban leadership successfully convincing its fighters and most ardent supporters to accept those provisions….”
It is evident that the Taliban have not agreed to declare ceasefire after the US-Taliban deal saying that it will be discussed in the intra-Afghan dialogue, which will be more detailed and tough. That is to say, the deal between the two sides will focus on intra-Afghan dialogue and US troop pullout. Hence, the talks will still have a rocky road ahead.
Trump also seems a little too much in haste to gain credit through the deal for his presidential campaign.
Generally speaking, the US-Taliban deal will be viewed a step forward to the Afghan peace process and is unlikely to destabilize the region for two reasons. For the one, Washington will maintain its residual forces, which will be an indication to the Taliban to be monitored. Second, the Taliban will be integrated into the system and stop their terrorist activities.
Since the Taliban leadership signs a deal, it has to convince all its military generals and rank and file to stop their terrorist activities and be disarmed. Moreover, regional and global stakeholders, mainly those having strong leverage on the Taliban, should pressure the group to honor its commitment.
Sheikh Manzoor is the Editor-in-chief of Aalami Urdu Service and Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer