Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

Peace Process Lacks Transparency

The Taliban had to reduce violence and sit across the table from Afghan officials after signing peace deal with the United States. The issues seem complicated after the Taliban’s reported ties with al-Qaeda, especially as they have given “vague assurances” that they will comply with Washington’s demands. 
In the emerging scenario, the unclear role of the Taliban in the future political set-up and their adherence to the democratic values based on pluralism and the Afghan Constitution is likely to prolong the intra-Afghan dialogue, which yet to be brokered. It is feared that the Taliban outfit will capitalize on its peace agreement with the US, as the group did not declare peace with the Kabul administration, seeking to impose its own brand of Sharia by establishing the Islamic Emirate. As a result, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said, after signing peace deal with Washington, “We signed an agreement with the Americans. But our jihad is not over. The stooges who supported the invaders during the last two decades are our enemies. This might change after additional talks but at the moment, we are still at war.” The Taliban continued their intensified attacks against the Kabul government and spilled the blood of many Afghan soldiers and civilians despite the government’s repeated call for ceasefire.
It appears that the current condition is not conducive to bringing the conflict to a rapid end. There will be no UN peacekeeping force or other impartial third party to guarantee the security of the two sides as they disarm and demobilize.
Overall, prisoner swap and reduction in violence leading to an intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive ceasefire are crucial milestones in the road ahead.
Recently, Kabul has stepped up its efforts for the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue through holding meetings and conferences. But reaching an agreement with the Taliban is likely to take more than a year to reach and even longer to implement. Ending the protracted war will require a lengthy peace process and the constructive engagement of global and national stakeholders.
In the peace deal signed in Qatar, “the two net-gainers from the deal are the Taliban – balance heavily titled in their favor (foreign forces leave, which has been their principal demand, and discussions on Afghanistan’s future political make-up will include their input); and the US which under Donald Trump has pledged to move its military out of a futile engagement. Both are likely to realize their objectives.” The marginalization of the Kabul administration was counterproductive in turn the bilateral agreement between the Taliban and Washington could not lead to peace in the country.
It should be noted that the road to peace in Afghanistan lies in pluralism and a policy of give and take. Although the Taliban are trying to show that they have transformed in 18 years’ time, there exists deep-rooted suspicion and mistrust against them across the country, especially when it comes to their stance on women and minorities. Critics argue that the Taliban remain unchanged and if they return to power, they will behave the way they did during their regime.
To broker the intra-Afghan dialogue and ensure peace and prosperity, Washington has to use its leverage on the Taliban to honor its deal and cut their ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks. They should also reduce violence and stop targeting civilians.
Meanwhile, a third party should ensure the US-Taliban peace deal. That is, the Trump administration should not pullout the American troops from Afghanistan unless it is guaranteed that the Taliban will honor the deal and will not seek to impose their warped mind on the people of Afghanistan. However, if Washington leaves the country in the lurch, peace will remain elusive and the Taliban will be the real winner.
The Taliban group should be transparent and come to the table with genuine intention. First, it should make it clear whether its leaders Mullah Haibatullah is dead or alive and whom its negotiating team represents. Second, the group should guarantee that if peace deal is signed with the Kabul administration, its rank and file will be disarmed and there will be no militancy from the Taliban side. Third, the Taliban should be rational and do not bargain over the red-line of Afghan nation and state such as democratic gains and constitutional principles, including women’s rights and freedoms.
Moreover, the Afghan government should not keep the people, media, and civil society in the dark, as the US negotiators did. The details of the talks, once started, should be revealed to the people, who paid heavy sacrifices for democratic values and took active part in elections.