Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

National and International Consensus to be Achieved on Post-peace Administration

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad had met with Afghan high-ranking officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, in his three-day visit to Kabul to discuss the peace process. What makes this trip of Khalilzad different is that he entered Kabul with the proposal of establishing an interim government with the integration of the Taliban and handed Afghan leaders a draft of the participatory plan, asking them to share their views over it. It was his first trip after Joe Biden took the office. Subsequently, he traveled to Doha and met with members of the Afghan republic team.
It is said that an international conference, similar to that of the Bonn, will be held in Turkey with the participation of the negotiating sides, international community, representatives of international organizations, and regional and global stakeholders to discuss the prospect of a participatory government.Khalilzad said on a tweet, “The Islamic Republic and the Taliban must find a path to a political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. In Kabul I discussed various options/alternatives to propel the process forward.” He added, “I was encouraged by what I heard. There is widespread support for the need to move more quickly and deliver a just and durable peace that Afghans demand and deserve.”Khalilzad’s statements indicate that Afghan officials may have signaled positively to his draft plan, based on which the Taliban have to shift all their setup to the country. The draft suggests an amendment to the constitution on the condition that the general framework had to be protected and neither of the sides would be allowed to prosecute members of each other on charges of crime. It also proposes that a High Council of Islamic Jurisprudence with 15 members will be formed, which would be tasked to provide guidelines concerning social and cultural issues. The council will also go through laws and decrees to ensure that they are in accordance with Islamic tenets.
It is self-explanatory that the post-peace political structure is a highly crucial issue to be discussed and agreed upon. In other words, the negotiating sides have to step up their struggle to reach a consensus over the structure in the post-peace administration, which needs to be inclusive and comprehensive with all ethnic and political groups on board. After more than two decades of conflict, the process of legitimacy in Afghanistan started from international consensus in Bonn Conference and ended in national agreement. Both the Bonn Conference and Loya Jirga, conducted for the endorsement of the Constitution, were the sources of legitimacy for the post-Taliban administration. But the Taliban was not on board in the Bonn Conference, therefore, emerged as a terrorist group, killing a large number of Afghan soldiers and civilians in the last couple of decades.
The people of Afghanistan are likely to have no problem with the establishment of interim government. However, they are concerned that the framework of the Constitution – mainly human rights, women’s rights and liberties, democratic principles, and the achievements made in the past two decades – have to be safeguarded since Afghans paid heavy casualties in achieving all. In short, the national achievements should not be compromised at the table. The second disconcerting issue is that Afghans fear that the Taliban may enter the country with the radical mindset. In such a case, the rights and freedoms of women will be particularly at stake, in addition to strides made in democracy and human rights. With this in mind, a strong international guarantee is needed so that the Taliban will not undo the past achievements and do not impose their strict sharia law on the people. In short, the republic and democracy have to be maintained.Violence has to come to an end and the post-peace structure needs to be based on democratic values in order to be acceptable to the masses.
What seems to be lacking in Khalilzad’s draft plan is no mentioning of reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire. It appears that neither the United States nor the Afghan side could persuade the Taliban to declare ceasefire. But the neighboring countries, which have strong leverage on the Taliban leadership, did not put pressure on the Taliban in this case.
Meanwhile, it is believed that if main issues are not resolved in the ongoing dialogue in Qatar, the international conference, which is said to be held in Turkey, will be controversial and reaching an agreement is likely to be time-consuming. Hence, the negotiating sides have to resolve the controversial issues and regional and global stakeholders have to engage more actively to step up the process and pave the ground for the upcoming international conference.