Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Taliban Attack On Ghazni City Debunks Ongoing Peace Process


Taliban Attack On Ghazni City  Debunks Ongoing Peace Process

Thousands of Taliban fighters attacked Ghazni city on 10 August causing heavy casualties on civilians, including children, women and men and destroying most of Government office buildings and vehicles and city infrastructure. This happened at a time when Afghan Government and its international allies – mainly the United States of America – have been bragging about progress in peace talks with insurgents. Even talks of renewed, short-term ceasefire were being quoted in the media during upcoming three days Eid festivities.
News about peace negotiations with Taliban insurgents has been frequented with optimism for permanent peace in round-table talks by so called experts on numerous TV channels. But what has not been talked about in this entire episode was the present of a framework, strategy or comprehensive plan within which the Government would conduct so called peace negotiations.
It is now open secret that Afghan Government has no solid platform and strategy to engage with Taliban insurgents about permanent peace. Its response is spasmodic, reactive and based on shallow foundations. People of Afghanistan now understand that whatever so called peace negotiations took place, had been initiated and undertaken by countries which have bigger stakes in the process, and main instigators for their attempts to engage in peace talks with Taliban have been urges and policy priorities of their home countries’ Governments. Factors that had temporarily prompted main players – including Pakistan – to respond to demands for peace, have devastating effects of punitive measures taken by the US Government against that country under a new South East Asia policy shift. This entire process has not only un-budged Taliban insurgents from their initial position, they were emboldened by the haste exhibited by the US and Afghan Government to broker a peace deal.
Taliban were granted the privilege to exclude Afghan Government from so called initial peace negotiations, thus they entered in direct talks with senior US diplomats.
As if the present hotchpotch was not enough, Uzbekistan has jumped into the foray and granted Taliban insurgents office or meeting venue in that country. One or two rounds of talks have been conducted in Uzbekistan between Taliban insurgents and Uzbekistan Government. It is clear that the motive behind Uzbekistan Government to engage in talks with Taliban is in their interest to use Taliban fighters to catch or destroy Uzbek fighters associated with Dae’sh or Islamic State and Al Qaeda operating inside Afghanistan.
This phenomenon has given a kind of political legitimacy to Taliban in the region, which would automatically render them a force to reckon with, and will give them more leverage when it comes to negotiation of any kind of deals with them. It seems Taliban insurgents are now seen as a unified force by neighboring countries and regional players who compete to gain more control and establish good relations with them.
Pakistan has emerged as the winner throughout the current debacle. They have successfully took advantage of the weaknesses of Afghan Government and managed to render Taliban an organized force, and encouraged neighboring countries including Iran and Uzbekistan, and regional powers such as Russia and China, to engage with Taliban. Pakistan has cleverly maneuvered and slipped international attention away from her as if it isn’t only Pakistan to support Taliban, others do as well!
Weaknesses of Afghan Government include lack of establishing Government writ in areas prone to insurgents’ attack, absence of reliable intelligence network in Ghazni and adjacent provinces to feed timely information to military and police forces to nip any insurgent activities at the bud. Before this fateful attack by Taliban on Ghazni city, the insurgents had disseminated public notices to all passenger vehicles travelling between Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar and Helmand provinces ‘not to travel’ twenty four hours ahead of their military operations. In addition, failing to notice movement of large number of fighters – more than two thousand five hundred – from adjacent provinces towards Ghazni is another failure on the part of Afghan intelligence and military prowess. This is huge failure when it comes to military standards on the part of Afghan Government. Waiting until attack takes place and then clearing things up, has always taken huge toll in term of human lives and resources in the past.
It is a shame that this area has not been corrected despite recurrent nature of similar methods used by insurgent fighters. Afghan military and police force need to uplift their operational and logistical response tactics, and establish strong and unshakable coordination and communication networks among them. Security strategy has to be re-oriented to focus more on how to prevent, delay and abort the attacks before they occur.
Present strategy is reactive where our security forces react to attacks to defend themselves and then counter attack. Re-orientation will change the whole mindset of the security system and then more brainstorming will take place on information gathering, analysis, planning, police skills and police tactics. Military and police tactics are different and both have to supplement each other. At a time when NATO Resolute Support and international partners are engaged in training and equipping Afghan army and police force, failure at this magnitude and scale is incomprehensible. 
It is natural that a period of substantial calm between warring parties precedes any kinds of peace, truce or ceasefire. From the look of it, and the way Afghan Government is conducting peace negotiation with Taliban, brokerage of any types of truce, ceasefire and peace is a far cry.
Afghan Government and its international supporters are wide of the mark to count on the ongoing so called peace negotiation with Taliban. This group is mysteriously controlled by outside hands – especially our well known neighboring countries – which have created, recognized, and continue to support Taliban insurgents during last more than two decades now.
Afghan Government and its international allies should cut these mysterious hands off, and get genuine Taliban leaders to talk to them. Also, international community, Afghanistan’s friends, regional powers – including India – should rally around the people and Government of Afghanistan at this critical juncture and challenging times so that this spat of blood sheds and destruction is put a full stop to, once and for all. Peace is the wish of all Afghans, and any attempts by spoilers, to exploit the process to reach a durable and long lasting peace, should be eliminated.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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