Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Role of Regional Stakeholders Highly Significant in Peace Process

The Taliban leadership has signaled positively to resume the peace talks in Doha, Qatar’s capital, and participate in Istanbul conference. But violence is not reduced and the Taliban fighters resumed militancy after three days of ceasefire. They have filled the public air with fear and concerns.
Regarding peace issue, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has reiterated the role of regional states, mainly that of Pakistan. Ghani said that the Taliban leadership councils, including Quetta Shura, Miramshah Shura and Peshawar Shura, are in Pakistan, an indication that the Taliban group has ties with Islamabad. He believes that Islamabad has strong leverage on the group and peace talks will bear the desired result if Pakistan puts its weight behind.
On the other hand, Pakistani officials have constantly said that they would support the intra-Afghan dialogue since peace and stability carried heavy significance for Islamabad. However, the trust deficit between Kabul and Islamabad continues since Pakistan could not prove its good intention and did not put pressure on the Taliban leadership to sit at the negotiating table with goodwill. Meanwhile, Taliban’s leadership councils are still on Pakistani soil. In late 2020, Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar visited wounded members of the Taliban in Karachi, saying that the Taliban’s leadership exists there. He also met the Taliban senior military commanders in that trip to Pakistan and discussed reduction in violence. Pakistani officials did not deny the existence of the Taliban’s council there.
The issue is not about the denial or confirmation of Taliban’s councils in Pakistan, but the role whether or not Islamabad is willing to play. It is globally agreed that Pakistan has strong leverage on the Taliban leadership and its role is highly significant in the reconciliation process. More importantly, Pakistani officials reiterated their support to the peace process. They have to fulfill their promise and pressure the Taliban to break the stalemate in the talks, reduce violence and declare ceasefire.
Regional stakeholders also need to accelerate their constructive engagement in the process so that civilian casualties are stopped. Afghanistan welcomes the role of regional and global actors, including China and Russia, to put their weight behind the peace talks and persuade the Taliban to integrate into the political system. Afghan officials have called on regional and global stakeholders on multiple occasions to play their role actively in the peace issue and nudge the Taliban to an agreement.
The United States should also put pressure on the Taliban leadership to honor its deal with Washington, reduce violence, stop spilling the blood of Afghan people and participate in Istanbul conference. Meanwhile, the Taliban have to resume dialogue with the Afghan republic negotiating team so as to put an end to the decades-long conflict. Playing foul game in the talks and continuing military deal will be counterproductive. 
It is self-explanatory that regional states are concerned about the US troop pullout as they reiterated responsible withdrawal. In other words, with the start of US troop withdrawal, the fear of civil war and increase in violence loomed large. As the Taliban have intensified their violence against Afghan soldiers and civilians, after the Joe Biden administration started pulling its troops, Afghan ordinary people fear the most. The turmoil has to come to an end and the Taliban should reduce their violence since they are unable to justify their acts of terror and hostility in the country.
Productive talks will be in the interests of all sides, including regional and global stakeholders. On the contrary, if militancy continues, peace talks will be deadlocked, casualties will increase as both sides will suffer, the spillover is possible, and destruction will go on. With this in mind, the world has to support the peace process and make warring sides to stop the conflict.
If the neighboring countries seek a peaceful Afghanistan, they should be engaged constructively in the peace process and push it to a productive end. The conflict has to be ended so that the neighboring countries could have further economic, cultural and diplomatic exchanges with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s foreign office has reacted to the recent statements of President Ghani, calling it “groundless accusation”. But Ghani does not need to accuse Islamabad. If Pakistani officials prove their promise and nudge the Taliban to be sincere at the negotiating table, reduce violence, honor their deal with Washington, and resolve the conflict through negotiated settlement, the trust and bonhomie will emerge between Kabul and Islamabad. In short, all countries are welcomed to be constructively engaged in the Afghan peace process, however, destructive role is not tolerable at all.