Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Principled Negotiation Ensures a Win-Win Game

It is vital the Afghan peace negotiators realize that Negotiation, contrary to warfare, is not a win-lose game. Those who take a “win-lose” orientation to peace are impossible to achieve sustainable outcomes. Generally, there are three broad approaches to negotiation. Namely, soft negotiation assumes that reaching agreement needs the acceptance of concessions, losses, and compromise. Hard negotiation considers that winning requires making
threats, demanding concessions, and sticking to strict public positions requiring the other side
to lose. To have a successful peace processes, both sides must apply principled negotiation where the goal is to solve
problems by finding options that meet the basic underlying interests of all stakeholders. The aim of principled negotiation is to create a “win-win” solution that can be accepted by stakeholders.
The reason why principled negotiation is a successful approach is that it is interest based; it requires each stakeholder to identify their core, underlying interests and needs beyond their public positions. An analysis of underlying interests of all sides, beyond their public statements, can assist in finding mutually satisfying
agreements or outcomes that all sides can live with. In positional negotiation stakeholders make absolutist public positions that make progress difficult while in principled negotiation interests of all stakeholders matters.
Experience of peace process in other conflict prone countries show that negotiation based on wholesale compliance have a high risk of failure. As setting preconditions make it impossible to even learn about the other
stakeholder’s interests or to explore creative options for addressing underlying interests, for a successful notational It is best to avoid preconditions to talks. It is highly recommended that to use small, unilateral confidence-building measures method to build trust for more substantial negotiations and undermine antagonistic leaders. Hiding underlying interests only delays understanding or contributes to conspiracy theories. It may be very difficult for groups to use an interest-based approach to negotiation without the help of an outside mediation team coaching them to explore their underlying interests.
In Afghanistan, Afghan groups, especially Taliban, have nearly always tried to apply positional negotiation in the peace process. As a result, negotiating on underlying interests rather than public positions is essential for our country. Taliban leaders generally talk about achieving a true Islamic and independent system but have been vague on their political platform and unclear about their underlying interests. It is impossible to negotiate or reintegrate armed opposition groups without knowing these interests. When the Taliban were in power, the expression of these interests was grave intolerance of religious and political pluralism and repression of women. It is hard to imagine any negotiation with the Taliban if their underlying interest is this type of repression. The Taliban also oppose perceived imposition of Western cultural values and development goals aimed at modernization. The symbol of Western cultural imposition is a provocatively dressed womanon a billboard. There is a lot of room for negotiation between this extreme and the demand that women wear burqas and that girls not receive education. Many traditional Afghan religious and secular leaders do see the benefit of educating girls and including women’s leadership.
Taliban leaders and religious leaders have permitted development and even activities aimed at women’s empowerment when they are locally led and directly benefit the community.
Given the history of external countries besieging Afghanistan, there are legitimate and shared concerns about the level of control and presence of outsiders. Discussing these underlying interests and ways to address them with creative, mutually satisfying options is essential. However, the main concern about the negotiations with the Taliban is their dependency on Pakistan ISI. Evidence show that the group has not peace plan and they merely rely on the commands of ISI.
For a successful negotiation, both sides need to recognize the concerns and interests of each other. Considering this fact, principled negotiation is the best model of negotiations for the Intra-Afghan talks. Afghans hope both Afghan government and Taliban negotiating teams put the national interests first to their own interests. It is very difficult and the history of Afghanistan show the politicians have rarely put the interests of the nation first to their own ones. However, we may experience a new approach in the Intra-Afghan peace talks; We may embrace peace through a principled negotiation.