Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Afghanistan National Sovereignty Should Not Be Compromised in the Ongoing Peace Process

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Afghanistan National Sovereignty Should Not  Be Compromised in the Ongoing Peace Process

Since the start of peace negotiations with Taliban insurgents last year, people of Afghanistan are uncomfortable with the modus operandi and methodology this whole process is handled. The first ever ceasefire in xxx 2018 was announced and observed by both, the Government and Taliban but after this, the Government seemed to have lost the ground.  The Afghans feel that Taliban insurgents are given more space to accommodate their demands - including their refusal to talk to Afghanistan Government – and their demand for US and NATO forces to leave Afghanistan. Government of Afghanistan has come into being as a result of elections, which despite its shortcomings and difficulties, is representing the will and wishes of the people of Afghanistan but it was not included in the peace negotiations.
Excluding Government of Afghanistan from peace negotiations is not in the interest of any party because at one day, the negotiated peace settlement should be developed through consensus, not imposed on the Government and people of Afghanistan. Unilateral decision of US to withdraw troops emboldened the Taliban to get more concessions for themselves and also more leverages for Pakistan. It is the same Taliban with whom US refused to talk considering all of them as terrorist, now negotiating and similarly, the same Pakistan, which was rebuked for supporting Taliban rescued US to continue peace efforts. Government which has roots in the general population in the country, and has strong, functional institutions comprising of army, police, civil servants, judiciary and all other institutions, has been undermined.
It is true that Government will continue to require international monetary assistance for a decade or so in order to sustain its operability and continue the process of building its own stream to generate income and self-sustain through developing the extractive industry, transit routes and generation of hydropower electricity to export to outside markets, the country is already on track to progress and moving with fast paces towards achieving the goal of becoming stable, economically sound and militarily strong country in the region.
Looking at Afghanistan through the lenses of Taliban insurgents and their protectorates – including Pakistan and Iran – the former with vested interest to keep Afghanistan as a subjugate nation without freedom to decide on her foreign policies and national interests and the later with aim to settle scores with US and allied countries because of their more than forty years animosity since the Islamic Revolution there.
The world is now, actually a multi-polar one with more regional super powers emerging which have interests in smaller, regional countries – with more focus on countries falling in the geographical sphere of influence of these regional powers. India, People’s Republic of China and Russian Federation are more assertive now than they were a decade ago. In such an intermingled global system and involvement of the interests of so many parties, interlocutors to Afghan peace process should include Afghan Government as major party to any and all peace negotiations with Taliban insurgents and countenance the same at all international and national platforms. Will of the Afghan people and inclusion of Government of Afghanistan is of paramount importance in a lasting peace in the country. Turning blind eye and deaf ears to this fact can have dangerous repercussions, which can ignite active regional power play by turning Afghanistan yet another theatre, which can create many ungoverned spaces for international terrorist organizations in the country, which can definitely pose threat to world security and the country will go back to square one.
Upendra Baghel, a researcher on Afghan politics and security institutions envisions Afghanistan to be politically and economically inclusive of its diversity adhering to its core principles of a strong sovereign state. It is important that ongoing peace process and peace negotiation be inclusive of Afghanistan as early as feasible and led by Afghan people represented by the Government of Afghanistan and Taliban. Without this, the peace settlement would not be sustainable. 

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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