Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Regional and Global Support for Peace Talks Carries Heavy Weight

After a break in the peace talks, a Taliban high-level delegation led by their chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, traveled to Islamabad and held meetings with Pakistani officials. The government negotiating team has returned to the country to consult over the talks. The next round of negotiations will start early next month. Officials called on the Taliban to hold the upcoming meeting in Afghanistan, the Taliban refused.
After tough and lengthy talks in the Qatari capital Doha, the negotiating sides reached an agreement on the procedural rules.
The release of Taliban fighters, removal from the blacklist, and reduction in violence are likely to be in the agenda of the upcoming round of talks, which will be tough and detailed. 
Last month, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and a number of other high-ranking officials on his visit to Kabul and promised to put his weight behind the intra-Afghan dialogue. The high-level exchanges decreased the trust deficit between Kabul and Islamabad, which increased their commercial exchanges recently.
Pakistan is a heavyweight stakeholder and has strong leverage on the Taliban leadership. If it supports the intra-Afghan talks through pushing the Taliban to declare ceasefire and reduce violence, the Pak-Afghan ties will be cemented. On the contrary, if the Taliban seek to add to their international reputation through their travels to Pakistan without trying to reduce violence or declare ceasefire, Afghans will lose all their trust in Islamabad. In such a case, the United States and its allies will also view Pakistan with doubt and mistrust.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has reiterated his country’s support for the talks as he is cited as saying, “Pakistan will continue to support an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.”
Afghan officials did not show reaction to the two-day trip of the Taliban delegation to Islamabad since they expect Pakistani authorities to support the intra-Afghan dialogue and use their leverage on the Taliban leadership. Officials believe that with Islamabad’s support for the negotiations, the talks are likely to bear the desired result and vice versa. In other words, the support of regional and global stakeholders carry increasing significance and Afghan political figures and officials called on the stakeholders and their international allies to back the negotiations and press the Taliban to reduce violence and declare a permanent ceasefire.
Despite the talks, the Taliban intensified their attacks and are largely involved in killing soldiers and civilians. Afghan high-ranking officials believe that the escalated militancy will be a blow to the peace process and the talks are likely to be derailed if the Taliban refuse to declare ceasefire. With this in mind, the Taliban have to declare ceasefire and stop killing the people of Afghanistan if they really have genuine intention in the talks. In short, the escalated insurgency will be counterproductive.
Meanwhile, the escalated militancy will fill the people of Afghanistan with fear and hatred against the Taliban group. The Taliban have to listen to the public call for peace and reduction in violence and stop shedding their blood.
The recent overtures between Kabul and Islamabad, which ended the blame game, is highly crucial. The two sides have to strengthen their ties through bilateral cooperation and seek to bring in peace and stability, which will be in the interests of both countries.
Regional and global stakeholders have to engage more actively in the peace process and do not let the Taliban group to derail the talks, which have reached a highly critical step, through holding out against ceasefire and reduction in violence.
The United States has to try for achieving global consensus over the Afghan peace talks and have to include more states, including Iran, India, China, and Russia, in the process.
Meanwhile, a national consensus over the talks also carries great significance. Afghan political figures have to support the government in the dialogue and stop opening individual channels with the group.
It is self-explanatory that if the talks fail to bear the desired result, the conflict is likely to be intensified further. In such a case, regional stability will be in great jeopardy. Therefore, regional and global states have to support the talks and push the two sides to reach an agreement with consideration to the demands and preconditions of Afghan men and women.