Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

How to Bring the Taliban to Peace Table?

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How to Bring the Taliban to Peace Table?

Peace negotiation between Afghan government and the Taliban has been a controversial issue. The rocky road of peace talks frequently came to a stalemate. No country has been able to break the deadlock and militancy continues unabated in Afghanistan since the Taliban intensified their attacks. Although countries are either unable or unwilling to broker the talks, they still deem negotiation only viable option for peace.
To view the stance of Afghan government, it has been calling warring faction, particularly the Taliban, to stop violence and hold negotiation. Afghan officials urge their Pakistani counterparts to play a genuine role in nudging the Taliban to peace table and support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. On the other hand, a Pakistani high-ranking official Sartaj Aziz has said peace will not be possible without the support of Pakistan to the international community, insisting that Islamabad is committed to do all it can to help the Afghan reconciliation process. So, Afghan government believes in Pakistan’s leverage over the Taliban and left no stone unturned in holding negotiation.
It goes without saying that Pakistan is able to play an essential role in terms of negotiation through putting pressure on the Taliban. During his meeting with the Pakistani officials, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis emphasized the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region.
Despite this fact, the Taliban hold out against the talks and continue their terrorist attacks against Afghan state and nation. Showing no tendency to hold talks, the Taliban refuse to come to negotiating table. Since the establishment of the National Unity Government (NUG), the Taliban have carried out large-scale attacks against Afghan soldiers and civilians. They never decided to attend peace meetings, which undermined the effect of regional and global conferences on peace negotiation.
The world also seeks to bring the Taliban to peace table. A large number of global officials believe that peace talks will be the only viable option to security. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that political negotiations are the most reliable way to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan. According to him, Uzbekistan would render comprehensive assistance in Afghanistan’s integration into regional socio-economic processes.
In spite of the fact that peace negotiation is widely stressed, no country claims that it will be able to persuade warring factions to hold talks. In fact, if the Taliban are nudged to negotiating table, they will be welcomed by Afghan government and it is what Kabul has been seeking for years. Only stressing negotiation will not be a panacea but the world should also point out how Afghanistan can persuade the militant fighters to stop violence. Afghan government never closed the door for talks, however, this is the most tortuous way that the country has ever faced. Reclining on chair and saying simply that negotiation is the solution to peace will no more carry weight. It is time to outline how Afghanistan can persuade the merciless fighters and their radical leaders to stop killing innocent civilians.
To render support to Afghanistan in combating terrorism, there are three options for its allies and neighbors to consider. First, those countries which deem peace talks the only viable option for security should also suggest the way to bring the Taliban to negotiating table. Afghanistan showed strong flexibility to the Taliban and has recently announced that the Taliban can open its office for talks anywhere, including Kabul. But the frequent calls for peace fall on the Taliban’s deaf ears. Now the question is that is holding talks with such a group possible?
Second, those countries must be able to break the deadlock or facilitate the talks between the Taliban and Afghan government. It should be noted that Afghan government has spent the most of its energy in this case and the High Peace Council (HPC) is doing its best to hold a face-to-face negotiation with the Taliban; but all the struggles were proved abortive. So, there is a need for third party to facilitate the talks.

The third option is that those states must join forces with Afghan government to deal with the Taliban militarily so as to reduce violence and bloodshed. Resolving the issue through diplomatic way is possible with a political party rather than a militant or an ideological faction. The Taliban are a militant party seeking to foment trouble and shed the blood of soldiers and civilians under the sacred term of jihad. They will not succumb to call for peace. In brief, first the Taliban are not willing to stop violence. Second, stressing to hold talks without outlining the manner is changed into a cliché.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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