Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

US & NATO Fatigue Yields the Urge to Broker Peace Deal between Afghan Government & Taliban (Part 1)

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US & NATO Fatigue Yields the Urge to Broker Peace Deal  between Afghan Government & Taliban (Part 1)

Recent developments in various fronts including sturdy paces of ongoing peace process, hectic diplomatic activities on the part of United States through their envoy, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad and tangible responses on the part of Pakistan who released senior Taliban leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Bradar – which Afghan government had been asking for since last one decade – reschedule of a peace conference in Moscow next month after a successful roundtable meeting this month at Moscow attended by Taliban and delegations of all stakeholder countries and formation of a delegation by Afghan government to participate in this conference, representing Afghan Government, are signs that clearly indicate international community fatigue in funneling tons of money, equipment and support in all fronts to Afghan government for breaking the ongoing stalemate and impasse in the war against Taliban insurgents, and the lack of progress and inability of Afghan government to broker a viable peace deal or change battlefield position in favor of Afghan government. Despite formation of High Peace Council since last one decade, and hundreds of millions of dollars on this so called High Peace Council expended over these years since its formation, there isn’t any realistic breakthrough to bring peace. Prevailing conditions forced US to directly enter into negotiations with Taliban insurgents to make sure a way forward was designed and followed. Despite huge uproar against direct involvement of US with Taliban to bring in peace, the process continued and it seems it is working in right direction as US and Taliban both have realized and publicly acknowledged that the military victory is not possible. According to Upendra Baghel, an expert in state building and international security issues, ‘Westerners have followed affirmative action in many countries, but they have not attempted to understand the depth of the root problems in Afghanistan as they do not have a similar situation in their countries. They used to have nobility class but such a class slowly disappeared and their influence diminished. Social differences get linked to the economic status in developing and poor countries and hence the impact is more and sustainable peace process should incorporate the social realities and root causes through inclusion and affirmative processes.’
Seventeen years and counting, United States of America, NATO member countries, regional powers and development partners of Afghanistan including India, continue to funnel funds in the country to support ongoing efforts to establish a strong central government, which can bring stability, good governance and garner support of its citizens to bring about progress and development in the country. These efforts and huge amount of resources expended so far have failed to establish a strong central government with strong state institutions to bring the desired stability and governance to serve the people. Security situations remain fragile with unabated occurrence of incidents related to both, insurgency and organized criminality. In addition, the social impact of these international interventions also could not bring the desired effect. Literacy rate stands at slightly above 30%, economic growth stands at 2%, 40% of the entire population of Afghanistan lives under one dollar a day, credit to GDP ratio stands at 3.5%, hence support to business activities remains low, health related services are poorly delivered as most of the patients visit neighboring countries for treatment, corruption, favoritism, nepotism and misuse of power in government agencies continue and violence has skyrocketed during these past seventeen years. Taliban insurgents steadily advanced in battlefronts and established their influence over almost half of the Afghan territory and sizeable population. Currently, 40% of Afghanistan landmass – mostly rural areas with agro-business activities – is under Taliban insurgents. They acquired capability to strike on armed forces, police and even high value state installations making civilians to doubt over the effective capabilities of Afghan security system. The United States and NATO member countries continue to inject huge amount of money and equipment into Afghan security and defense institutions, but the ongoing war of attrition unleashed by Taliban insurgents continues to take immense toll on security personnel, which if this course of destructive war tactics of Taliban insurgents are not altered or stopped, the present rate of casualties, which stands at around 1500 to 2000 security personnel a month, cannot be sustained.
International community – including US and NATO member countries – have cobbled together a government led by people with diverse set of beliefs, background and ideologies who in the absence of strong and objective state institutions continue to serve their narrow interests and personal and group goals by using government positions, authorities and money. This phenomenon has in turn increased mistrust between government and the people, resulting in deterioration of delivery of rule based government services. In addition, corruption, favoritism, nepotism, and misuse of power continue to exist in every government departments, which further alienated ordinary people from the government and strengthened informal networks. International community and Afghan government initiated many mechanisms to counter corruption but those could not bring much impact because they remain fragmented, slow and theoretical. They are not people centered focusing on public services and they do not follow whole of system approach. They focused on donor’s interest: utilization of aid money, not on the services, which a state ought to deliver. This situation offered opportunity for Taliban insurgents to recruit young people in their ranks to push them into killing machine, hence to further buttress their writ in territories under their control.
Mr. Baghel said, ‘Afghanistan should be proud of its nationals with their courage, conviction, knowledge, skills and leadership qualities but they have not been adequately utilized in nation building. The government should start identifying the people who are respected in community for their integrity and who are committed and then bring them to front to manage affairs. The government should start making merit cum inclusivity based interdependent, impartial and professional security, police and civil services.’ 

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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