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

Taliban not Sincere in Peace Talks

The Taliban leadership has never been sincere in the talks. Last year, the Taliban signed an agreement with the United States aimed at reducing violence and holding direct negotiations with the Afghan government to discuss a permanent ceasefire and an end to the conflict. But violence continues unabated and the group still maintains ties with al-Qaeda.
The Taliban started talks with the Afghan government but walked away from the table few months back despite the national and international demands for continuation of the talks. On the other hand, their fighters continued militancy despite the talks held in Qatari capital of Doha.
The Taliban have been vague and their views have been changing regarding the talks. They never clearly pointed out their plans regarding the future political structure, women’s rights, Constitution, Sharia Law, and power-sharing. For instance, no individual has a definite and clear picture about the Taliban vision about future government system or their ideology. Afghans still do not know whether or not the Taliban’s ideology has changed regarding women’s rights. On the one hand, the Taliban said their ideology has been moderated; on the other hand, they still conduct desert courts on the basis of their fundamental ideology. To put it succinctly, the Taliban leadership has continued talk-talk and fight-fight strategy and, as the Afghan negotiating team encountered many ifs and buts, there is serious doubt if the Taliban are really seeking peace.
Considering the Taliban’s unclear stance and undefined policy, it is believed that their leaders and military commanders are seeking different approach towards the issue of Afghanistan. Amidst the ambivalence and uncertainty, the Taliban fighters are likely to be in a state of confusion. That is, the Taliban fighters also lack a clear picture about their leaders and their decision. Overall, there is no transparent picture about the Taliban’s leaders and if they decide independently or based on the advice of their local and foreigners supporters.
The Taliban leaders have not been sincere from the start of the talks, started between the group and the Afghan government in Murree Pakistan few years back. They gained concessions but never reciprocated. The Taliban constantly turned their back on national demands for peace and dialogue despite their claims made to support the people.
The Taliban’s on and off the table indicates that their decisions are made based on the advice of their supporters. They are not independent. Meanwhile, they do not pursue talks with goodwill. After walking away from the table, the Taliban leadership has signaled to resume the talks, but it is not predictable if they continue the talks to the extent of signing an agreement with the Afghan government. In other words, the Taliban’s persistence on their own demands and preconditions without respecting those of their negotiating counterparts indicates their insincerity in the talks. The group gained international recognition and their fighters were released from Afghanistan’s jails, but it neither reduced violence nor continued the dialogue with genuine intention. Worst, their fighters returned to the battlefields.
In the meantime, the Taliban did not honor their peace agreement with the United States, intensifying their attacks against the Afghan government as the foreign troops are preparing to withdraw from the country.
The Taliban continue spilling the blood of Afghan soldiers and civilians, including women and children. They have no iota of mercy and killing civilians is their daily practice. It signifies that the Taliban are not concerned about the public pain and suffering. Currently, a large number of the Taliban fighters have occupied residential areas, where they fight against Afghan soldiers. That is to say, the Taliban neither are concerned about the public suffering, nor inflict pain and casualties on them.
If the Taliban are sincere in the talks, as they claim, they have to reduce violence and seek a negotiated settlement. Stopping killing civilians will pave the ground for an agreement and create a sense of trust. Hence, the Taliban should consider the public suffering and stop shedding their blood.
Furthermore, the Taliban have to outline their roadmap and peace plan transparently so that ambiguity and confusion is removed. They should also point out their ideology to the public and shall no more act in a vague and ambiguous way. It is the public rights to understand about the Taliban’s ideology and their peace plan. Hypocrisy and double dealing is a betrayal to the people. The Taliban shall make their stance clear and reduce violence if they seek a negotiated settlement or walk away from the table forever if they pursue military deal. Talk-talk and fight-fight strategy, besides creating confusion, is unlikely to mitigate the turmoil.