A Need for National Consensus in Peace Process:
It is evident that national consensus is necessary for reaching any national objectives. All troubled societies with weak government lack national consensus and unity on the society’s fundamental issues among their political factions and elites. On the contrary, all developed and prosperous societies nurture national consensus and unity over their national and fundamental interests and foreign policy perhaps with differences over minor issues, though. At least, national interests and red-line should be outlined for the public to be observed and respected. The main challenges of politics in Afghanistan, fundamental problem in our approaches towards foreign policy and interaction with foreign states as well as with the Taliban group root in lack of national consensus. Currently, divided we stand about peace and raise our voice individually rather than collectively, which may lead to horrible consequences for the state and nation as it consolidates the Taliban’s stance and claims.
Both the government and political figures and parties have to take concrete steps for the formation of consensus. Ill-fatedly, our political figures and parties remained less concerned over the preconditions and red-line, within the last year, in the wake of their political rivalries. A number of government’s critics seem to be ready to compromise all the past values achieved within the last two decades. After Zalmay Khalilzad was engaged in the peace talks, peace-making movements coupled with political objectives was ushered in, without the government’s inclusion, and the Moscow meeting was one of such movements. There is no doubt that the Moscow meeting about the Afghan peace process was organized, with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the core, contrary to the government’s expectation. That meeting, led to informal talks with the Taliban and a third party, put adverse effect on the government’s stance and consolidated that of the Taliban. Dissimilar groups were involved in interaction with the Taliban in Qatar and Moscow without raising a united voice.
Those political figures involved in such informal talks with the Taliban offered prayer with the leadership of the Taliban and granted legitimacy to them although being underestimated by the group as some were denied to sit at the negotiating table.
Now the question is that why the national consensus is not formed and who has to be blamed for preventing the formation of the consensus, which is a basic need for ensuring the country’s peace and stability?
In the Moscow conference, with Karzai at the core, there was no organized and clear agenda or unified stance and the outcome was simply providing a platform for the Taliban’s publicity. Such naïve and disharmonious acts continued after the Moscow conference and heads of political parties were creeping around behind the doors of the Taliban offices in Qatar and Quetta, Pakistan, to be allowed meeting with the Taliban. Their approaches and stances indicated their siding with the Taliban group and proved their discord and differences to the group, creating more hope for the establishment of the Islamic Emirate.
Unsurprisingly, regional and global powers as well as the Afghan government all pursue their national and citizens’ interests in the peace process. The Taliban also follow their strategic interests. In the meantime, only political figures, with Karzai at the core, who feel their factional and political interests have been undermined, pursue their immediate interests through giving the Taliban the green light. Such stance is likely to be proved harmful for the entire society and current system as well as themselves.
On the other hand, I emphasize that the government should try to make all political figures and parties hold a single stance to form a party without orientation to the Taliban. Today, the High Peace Council has lost its function and is highly weakened although the establishment of Ministry of Peace indicates that the government looks at peace with serious intention. However, national consensus and gathering influential figures and all political parties under a single ministry, whose minister had no prominent role in the past reckoning or issue of peace and war, will not be possible. In such a case, the ministry will be held serious neither from the political parties nor from the Taliban side and is unlikely to result in national consensus or government’s leadership. Pursuing a national and essential phenomenon via a single ministry, with non-influential figure at the helm, means reduction of peace from a national issue to that of factional and governmental and many may deem it inappropriate to work under a minister. When peace is reduced to a ministry, it means that all political and influential figures have to work under its umbrella. How one can persuade Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and other ethnic and conservative leaders to work under the umbrella of a ministry?
The plan for establishing Consultative Assembly or the Elders’ Council, which was initiated by the government and had 54 members, including conservative leaders, civil society representatives, and many critics, were highly comprehensive, logical and effective. However, it was dismissed for unclear reasons and the Ministry of Peace was founded instead. The government should have the capacity to create conditions conducive to the presence of influential and political figures so that they would not show tendency towards the Taliban. The government’s leadership will be formed if all segments of the society and political elites are reflected in its mirror.
Meanwhile, tribal elders and social influential mostly consider their factional and family advantages and self-interests and prefer their individual interests to national and collective gains. In such a case, the government is not able to afford all their expectations. According to those political actors, the criteria for a national team will be the inclusion of their family members and political team. The reduced role of their family and political circles within the government machinery would be the main reason behind the resentment of many political figures. Hence, neither the exclusion of all their members by the government nor their inclusion in a single entity to work under the Ministry of Peace may be an appropriate solution to the materialization of national consensus and peace.
A Need for National Consensus in Peace Process: