Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

Will the Taliban Come to Table with Genuine Intention?

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Will the Taliban Come to Table  with Genuine Intention?

The intra-Afghan dialogue, set to be started in the Qatari capital of Doha, will be highly controversial as the Taliban are likely to continue their game. The Taliban make contradictory remarks and speak in ambiguous terms, which show that they may not come to the table with genuine intention.
The Afghan side urges for “immediate reduction of violence” and “permanent ceasefire”, however, the Taliban do not use the later terminology. The main reason behind the intra-Afghan dialogue is to ensure sustainable peace in Afghanistan, but the Taliban seem unable or unwilling to bring in sustainable peace and stability.
After signing peace deal with the United States in Qatar in later February, the Taliban fighters intensified their attacks against Afghan soldiers and civilians. In his commentary published in Washington Post, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said, “Over the past five months, while Afghan security forces maintained a defensive posture, the Taliban and associated terrorist groups (which the Taliban has yet to publicly renounce) killed or wounded 12,279 Afghan security forces and civilians, according to our own figures.” He added, “We have paid with our lives – tens of thousands of Afghan lives, including even our tiniest, most precious and innocent lives.” Ghani said that then it was the Taliban to sit across from the Afghan negotiating team to reach a political solution. The death toll shows that the Taliban did not reduce their violence after signing deal with the Trump administration.
The Taliban will continue their attacks against Afghan combatants and non-combatants to seek concessions at the negotiating table. The US troop drawdown did not lead to reduction in violence.
The people of Afghanistan, which have paid heavy sacrifices to support democratic principles, expect the Taliban and the Afghan government to hold talks in a transparent way and do not keep them in dark. But it seems that the Taliban are willing to hold the talks behind closed doors. The Taliban have not fulfilled any of their commitments made in the US-Taliban peace agreement except for releasing a number of Afghan soldiers. For instance, they reportedly continue their link with al-Qaeda and did not reduce violence.
For many Afghans, any prospect of the Taliban even sharing power is disconcerting. In spite of their solemn pledges, the Taliban have maintained a deliberate ambiguity about their political agenda, adding to the sense of confusion. There is still no clarity whether or not the Taliban are willing to work within a democratic political and constitutional set-up.
After many ifs and buts, the Taliban have signaled to hold face-to-face talks with the Afghan government, which they called the “American puppet”. In the upcoming talks with the Afghan government, the new Taliban team also includes Anas Haqqani the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the insurgent group.
It is believed that if the Taliban do not ensure permanent ceasefire and sustainable peace in Afghanistan, the intra-Afghan dialogue will carry no significance for Afghans, who sustained heavy casualties within the last two decades. Each Afghan individual will believe in peace talks if they experience peace and stability in their daily life. In other words, the US-Taliban peace agreement did not lead to peace or ceasefire in Afghanistan making Afghan people lose their trust in talks. With this in mind, Afghans still view the talks with fear and disbelief, especially as the Taliban intensified their indiscriminate attacks.
Considering the Taliban’s harsh practices, intensified attacks, and radical ideology, the road to peace seems highly rocky. In the peace talks, the Taliban have to ensure that they will be able to bring peace in the country and their rank and file will not join other terrorist groups if their leadership sign peace deal with the Afghan government.
Overall, the Taliban’s ambiguous posture and contradictory remarks have filled the air with disappointment and disbelief. If the Taliban come to the table with genuine intention, they have to reduce their violence as a gesture of goodwill and stop killing Muslims, especially the most innocent ones such as women and children. Even though the intra-Afghan dialogue is set to be held shortly, violence and insurgency still continues unabated. Hence, one feels no genuine intention from the Taliban side despite the Loya Jirga’s decision to release their hardcore fighters.
Many believe that the Taliban will consult their decisions with their foreign backers while negotiating with the Afghan government as they were said to do during their talks with the US representatives. It is self-evident that the Taliban have their foreign advisors and backers or else they could not resist that long. Being supported, trained, and advised by foreigners, do you not think that they are and will be the real “puppet”?

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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