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

Holding Out against Ceasefire Indicates Taliban’s Insincerity

The Taliban persist in killing the people of Afghanistan despite national and international calls for reduction in violence and a permanent ceasefire. The peace process is likely to be a highly rocky road with contentious issues to be discussed in the upcoming meetings between the government and the Taliban negotiators. But the Taliban’s talk-and-talk and fight-and-fight strategy will be counterproductive.
The negotiating sides will not reach an agreement if they seek to impose their will. Both sides have to consider the public demands as well as social, political and cultural facts of Afghanistan, in which tremendous changes were made within the last couple of decades. That is, the negotiations should be based on the will and demands of Afghan men and women as well as legal and constitutional principles not on the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in late February.
The Taliban claim that they represent a segment of Afghan society without consulting with people or considering their demands. Their delegation traveled to Pakistan, not Afghanistan, to consult with their leadership and cleric council which exist in Pakistan, revealed Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar while visiting wounded members of his group in Karachi. Meeting with his group’s supporters in Pakistan, Baradar is cited as saying, “Here, though, everything has passed us by, but we are compelled to come because there are not a few people here, our entire leadership is present in this place.”
The Taliban were already in Pakistan and then had confessed, said Haji Din Mohammad, the deputy head of the High Council of National Reconciliation. Therefore, he added, “The role of Pakistan has been critical in the process”.
Based on the statement of the Taliban leaders that their leadership is in Pakistan, Islamabad is able to play critical role in Afghanistan’s peace process through using its leverage on the leadership to reduce violence and declare ceasefire. If the Taliban hold out, Pakistan can pressure the group through closing their leadership council and imposing sanctions on their leaders and freezing their bank accounts.
So far, Islamabad is not reported to have placed any new pressure on the Taliban leadership, but Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, have assured Afghan authorities to support the intra-Afghan dialogue. The high-level exchanges were made between Kabul and Islamabad to build trust and reiterate mutual cooperation regarding peace process. As a result, Kabul views Islamabad optimistically and expects it to put its weight behind the peace talks.
The recent violence, including the assassination of journalists and political figures especially in Kabul, has filled public air with dismay and mistrust. Afghans are apprehensive about the security situation, being deteriorated despite the talks between the Taliban and their government interlocutors.
In many of my commentaries, I doubted the Taliban’s genuine intention and said that they sought to play a foul game at the peace table. The Taliban leadership negotiate with the government and but their military commanders and rank and file are widely engaged in acts of violence.
It comes as Afghanistan and its international allies have called on the Taliban on multiple occasions to cease their violence, respect the rule of talks, and show genuine intention through stopping bloodshed. Condemning high level of violence, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that violence was aimed at undermining Afghans who are committed to peace, a permanent end to violence, and prosperous Afghanistan. He added that the conflict in Afghanistan has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of Afghan people who need and yearn for peace and stability. “The Islamic Republic and the Taliban must respect the demands of their people and reach a political agreement as soon as possible,” Khalilzad said.
Since reduction in violence tops in the agenda of the Afghan government’s negotiating team and regional and global actors as well as Afghan people call for immediate cessation of violence, the Taliban are likely to agree with it in the upcoming meeting and they are said to have consulted with their leadership in Pakistan about reduction in violence.
If Islamabad is seeking to support the Afghan peace process, as it has promised so, it has to persuade the Taliban to cease violence and stop imposing their will on Afghans through escalated insurgency.
If the Taliban do not agree on reduction in violence in the next meeting, the Afghan government has to halt negotiations. In short, persisting on continued militancy despite talks indicates Taliban’s foul play and lack of genuine intention or goodwill at the talks.