Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 14th, 2019

Afghan Peace Process: Home Grown Solution Holds the Future

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Afghan Peace Process: Home Grown  Solution Holds the Future

Since October 2018, the US and Taliban negotiators held six rounds of direct peace talks in Qatar’s capital Doha. Any Peace  process has some key aspects which are vital for its success .In  the present context, the   Afghan Peace process   provided an opportunity to keep Taliban   engaged on matters of shared concern for ending Afghanistan’s internal conflict that  undermine stability. There are some positive signs of a breakthrough in the stalled peace process in creating opportunities for conflict containment.  Led by U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad leading the US effort to facilitate dialogue and negotiate   with Taliban was a matter of debate within Afghanistan’s political circles. Unfortunately, for the clarity any future peace agreement benefiting of all parties of the Afghan society   excluded   the association of the Afghan government  seems to  be the   blank  spot in  resolving  this  puzzle from  the  six rounds of US ,Taliban  peace talks  in  Doha. Therefore the negotiating position of relevant actors on the most silent issues of Afghan peace process need to take more transparent approach to solve the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.
Assessing  the perspective of Afghanistan stability based on its own distinctive historical account and the external factors that either constitute or undermine the prospects of permanent peace should be   meaningfully debated for the future stability of Afghanistan. There is a widespread perception among domestic and international foreign policy makers that the domestic political nature of the peace process is the fundamental piece in understanding Afghanistan’s internal insurrections that stems from variety of political, regional, ideological or inequality related reasons that needs cooperation between the conflicting parties. Obviously, the US has been among the driving forces behind the peace talks in Qatar.  It is undeniable that the representation of President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani administration   remains excluded outsider as the six rounds of direct peace talks unfolded in Doha between the  US and Taliban negotiators. In response to the uncertainties over the US led peace talks  the incumbent Afghan President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani running for a second term in a presidential elections said  “Afghans do not accept an interim government  not today, not tomorrow, not in a hundred years,”  ( New York times ,2019 ) Hopefully  having made  the point  ,the  Afghan government    remain   important actor   in the ongoing  peace  process. Looking back at historical peace initiatives during the past there  were several   determined efforts by past and  present governments of  Afghanistan  to  resolve  the  matter    through  home-grown political  solution of  ending the  Afghan insurrection. However some   Peace efforts in the past were in jeopardy due to democratic and external   interferences. Knowing more about the past mistakes the far-sighted wise statement by incumbent Afghan President Ghani’s statement we want peace quickly, we want it soon, but we want it with prudence,” and “Prudence is important so we do not repeat past mistakes.” (New York Times, January 2019).  Therefore negotiators   at the    Doha Peace   talks have to acknowledge to develop a peace deal involving several actors. There has been running debate since the absence of Afghanistan government in the peace process.
Whether  the   presence  of Afghan government in a US led peace talk  with Taliban  would better severe   if they participated is  an  important argument taking place at  regional level at the moment .Hence,  it   is important to recognize what Afghan government needs to preserve in  stabilizing  and  in   the interests of all parties.  However U.S. military is expected reduce some of the   14,000 soldiers and the 8,000 troops from 38 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and non-NATO countries in the coming years. On the other hand frequent changes in policies concerning the Afghan peace process to end the eighteen -year war not only brings instability to the Afghanistan but also   creates   uncertain   times for US -Afghanistan relations.  Yet, in the light of analysis for the US, there are two key issues for negotiating with the Taliban One is by ensuring that renewed 9/11- style attacks cannot originate from Afghan territory and secondly complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
At the onset   when Taliban refused to join the current system, they made it clear that they would not simply ‘join’ or be ‘integrated’ into the current system and lay down their arms, as this would be surrender for them, and they instead demand ‘reform’, including a new constitution drafted by “Afghan (religious) scholars and intellectuals. Noticeably the withdrawal of US led foreign troops from Afghanistan is one of the Taliban’s key demands in peace negotiations. Details revealed during the    Doha talks Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, head of the Doha office and a former Taliban deputy foreign minister making a statement in reference to US troop’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Abbas Stanikzai said “We have told them that after ending your military intervention, we will welcome U.S. engineers, doctors and others if they want to come back for reconstruction of Afghanistan,” he said. “And they have promised to do so. ((Voice of America January 2019) January 30, 2019).
In this sense, the foreign policy positioning of United States (US), with   Western alliance and other major stakeholders in the region particularly India Pakistan, Iran and China having a multilateral agenda’s influencing Afghanistan’s future are areas of foreign policy concerned that need attention. Beyond this a broadening   south Asian regional support led by institutional context driven by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) can bring a regional solution to the Afghan crisis. It is important to recognize most salient consequences of the troubling realities that require socio, economic solutions. The reduction of the degree of dependence on external partners to bring about domestic solutions to internal problems is an essential factor. Thus these remedies plus home grown  political solution with all parties  of the Afghan society  should be  a possibility to test  those factors  that are  able to  change Afghanistan’s future while moving forward.
This opinion piece gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the Afghanistan Government.

Srimal Fernando is a Doctoral Fellow at Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), India and a Global Editor of Diplomatic Society for South Africa. He won the 2018/2019 Best Journalist of the year award in South Africa. Jalal Shams is the current Advisor to the Afghanistan Social Democratic Party (ASDP) on international affairs and media relations. As a mid-career professional, Shams is currently working for the Afghanistan Airfields Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) at the Office

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