Peace has been the dearest thing in last two decades in Afghanistan after the commencement of declared and final war against the terror on 7 October 2001, waged by US-led forces of NATO countries in search of Osama Bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda chief, who was mastermind of the incident of 9/11 and challenged the super power of the world’s security and intelligence network. Initiation of war soon ended the regime of Taliban which began in 1996 and ruled the country strictly as per Islamic laws bypassing all humanitarian needs and emotions, and now fighting from forces of Afghan government who were assisted by security forces of Western countries and NATO as well. After some years of devastating fighting the need of peace and development was realised at regional and global levels which pave the way for searching peace in this part of the globe. In today’s context, the whole process of peace in Afghanistan revolves around the three facts-a. the security dynamics and the ongoing conflict, b. the preservation of social and political gains achieved in last two decades, and c. intra -Afghan negotiation negotiations for a durable peace in post-withdrawal phase. In fact, after the end of Taliban rule in 2001 Afghan has earned a lot in socio-political spheres which could only be secured by the coming of an elected/democratic government and all interested parties except Taliban and Pakistan want a return of the peoples caring government who possess enough desire to keep the pace of development continue while the opposite number with the help of its well-wishers want to return in power in the circumstances of chaos and anarchy, the situation alike in 1996. The need of the hour is to think for the US not to leave Afghanistan without making sufficient and full-proof security network for the present and future of the country, in the name of which it has spent hundreds of billions in last four decades since the Soviet Intervention in December 1979.
Early outlook of Afghan peace
After the fall of Taliban rule in Afghanistan 25 prominent Afghans met in Bonn, Germany, under the auspices of United Nations to decide on a plan for governing the country and they passed a series of Agreements passed on 5 December 2001 in order to re-create the State of Afghanistan as no nationally agreed-upon government existed in the country since 1979. Following the Agreements, the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) was formed with 30 members headed by a chairman was inaugurated on 22 December 2001with a six-month mandate to be followed by a two-year Transitional Authority (TA), after which elections were to be held. The signed agreements sought to establish new constitution, an independent judiciary, free and fair elections, a centralised security sector and the protection of rights of women and minorities- religious and ethnic. As per the provision of the Bonn Agreement a new constitution was drafted and ultimately adopted by the loya Jirga on January 4, 2004. However, despite all precautions, all important factions of Afghan society and politics were not accommodated and even the Taliban group was kept aloof on the insistence of the American government which later proved costly and soon after the implementation of the constitution internal war between the North alliance and Pashtun faction. It gave rise to internal feud which later became clearer in inability of government to provide security and social services leading to the state of uncertainty and anarchy in the whole country. Taking benefit from the deteriorating law and order situation the Taliban group Launched numerous attacks on security forces of Afghan government and the NATO countries as well. Since then till date these outside forces are fighting with Taliban and other militia fighters forcefully and for long is in a influential position, making all the more establishment of peace in Afghanistan a difficult one.
Issues involved in the process
The first attempt of providing peace to Afghanistan was made in the year 2007 by the President Hamid Karzai, but swiftly rejected by the insurgent group on the ground of presence of foreign troops in the country, however, the move initiated a process of thinking in this direction and this apart, the Government of Pakistan, Britain and a host of others have pleaded in favour of starting the negotiation process in the interest of Afghan people. The issue of peace process also remained an important factor in 2009 presidential election in which Karzai was re-elected and he too in a televised speech urged the Taliban brothers to come home and embrace their land and laid plans to launch a loya jirga but as by the time Obama Administration increased the number of American troops resulting in deterioration of atmosphere congenial to the peace negotiation. Even at later dates and at London conference in January 2010 followed by another occasion at the United States Institute of Peace in May 2010, Karzai pleaded for talks with Taliban and other groups who are not related to Al Qaeda but the United States of America showed no interest in Karzai’s proposal. However, the earlier mindset of Obama Administration changed soon and agreed for talks with the Taliban, but this time, the later refused to negotiate with Karzai government because they consider them as an American “puppet”. Despite all these odds, the efforts for peace negotiations remained on that pave the way for positive developments on the issue.
Peace talks of 2016 and 2020
From the year 2015 Pakistan emerged as a new peace broker in context of Afghanistan and hosted the first official talks between Taliban representatives and the Afghan government in Murree with two observers-US and China followed by another round of four-way talks with Afghan, Chinese and American officials in January 2016, but unfortunately, Taliban did not attend the meeting.
In the same year, another peace negotiation was concluded between Afghan government and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-I Islami Gulbuddin, the second largest domestic militant group after the Taliban, but it too failed to see the light of the day. With the passing of time violence on the part of Taliban increased manifold for which American President Donald Trump blamed Pakistan in 2017 and 2018 and on the other Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposed unconditional peace talks with Taliban recognising them as a legal political party of the country while at the same time US also began to talk with Taliban directly leading to the peace agreement signed on February 2020, between United States and Taliban mentioning several terms and conditions.