In the sixth meeting of trilateral Core Group in Islamabad, Afghanistan, US and Pakistan have agreed to form a combined strategy regarding peace talks with Taliban. They have agreed to find out ways that could lead to safe passage for Taliban who wish to be a part of the reconciliation process. The meeting was held on Friday April 27 among the representatives of the three countries.
The meeting also marked the end in the deadlock in the talks with Pakistan. Both US and Afghanistan have been going through a bad patch in their relations with Pakistan. Afghanistan on various occasions blamed Pakistan for supporting the terrorist plots against Afghanistan's important personalities and important buildings.
US, on the other hand, has been experiencing a decline in the favorable relations with Pakistan after the attack on Pakistani military check post in Mohmand tribal region by NATO troops. As the result of the attack Pakistan stopped any sort of negotiations with US and at the same time blocked NATO's logistic supply routes. However, the current talks may once again prove to be a new beginning in the relations of the three countries.
It is important to note that though Pakistan's role in the war against terrorism has been highly controversial, it has proved to be a vital one as well. It is now becoming very much difficult for US to reach a conclusive end in the war without the involvement of Pakistan.
The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, before the meeting mentioned above, agreed that Pakistan has an imperative role in bringing peace in Afghanistan. The terrorist networks on both sides of the border seem to be supporting and influencing each other and may continue to do so unless proper attention is paid to the issue.
Pakistan has been urged to take extensive action against the safe havens of terrorists on their side of border, especially against the Haqqani network. However, Pakistan has had its own reservations in this regard. It has been claiming that it has exerted its utmost in countering terrorism on its side of border and has kept on rejecting stern claims of Afghanistan and US that its spy agency has links with Haqqani network.
Whatever the claims may be, the reality is there is a sharp contrast of policies and perceptions regarding the war against terrorism among the three countries; unfortunately, these contrasts are regarding the very basic issues in the war.
The current soft attitude towards Taliban that has been agreed upon by the three countries in the meeting is not very new, but it is very much weird, indeed. Afghanistan and US have been striving very hard to attract Taliban to negotiation table through galvanizing and sweet invitations.
The weird aspect of these invitations is that they are continued though there has not been any positive response by Taliban. They, in the face of such invitations, have kept their aggressive attitude continue and do not seem in the mood to talk. They have stopped the peace talks in Qatar and at the same time with Afghan government.
On Sunday, April 29, 2012, the Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Majahid, even rejected the British media reports (the reports claimed that Taliban led by Taib Agha and Shabudeen Delawar, former Taliban ambassador to Saudi Arabia had resumed negotiations with US officials) that Taliban have restarted negotiations with US officials in Qatar.
"We won't resume peace parleys until the US practice all the conditions that we had previously agreed towards trust building," is the message given by Zabiullah Mujahid. This clearly shows that Taliban are not in the mood to talk or they seem to be taking advantage of the softening attitude of Afghan and US government.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Saturday, April 28, 2012, relating to the trilateral Core Group meeting, said that the meeting reviewed developments related to the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, and the continued role that Pakistan and US could play to support the initiative.
The parties also agreed to establish two separate working groups to ensure that concrete steps are taken in facilitating direct negotiations between Taliban leaders and the Afghan government. One working group, at the level of the three countries' permanent missions to the United Nations (UN) in New York, will cooperate on the UN Security Council's role in support of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
The other working group, which will function within the framework of the trilateral Core Group, will work on providing a safe passage environment for those Taliban leaders and senior members willing to engage the Afghan government in direct negotiations.
It is interesting to note that soon after this commitment of three countries, Taliban have vehemently rejected the proposal. On Sunday, April 29, 2012, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid, mentioned, "Although Taliban are struggling for mighty and sacred desire, nobody in the movement is to disobey decrees of their leader and join foreign (parties)… The opposition had always tried illegal means to divide the Taliban but had failed."
With such vehement disregard for the peace talks, it is weird that Afghan and US officials are still with the same policy. They need to bring about changes in their dealing with the situation. This fact can never be neglected that ultimately a lasting peace in Afghanistan has to come through negotiations with Taliban.
However, what has to be done in the current scenario must be reanalyzed by US and Afghan authorities plus the Pakistani ones. Their policies, currently, are limited to the softening of attitude and frequent use of friendly terms for them, which have not been able to melt the solid hearts of Taliban.
If they do not want to continue aggression against them, it is understandable but it is not comprehendible what they are doing to replace it. The negotiation efforts at the moment are going astray and Taliban are getting maximum opportunities to cash the scenario in their favor. It would be really pathetic to see Taliban coming back to power after a decade of war, sacrifices of thousands of lives and expenditure of billions of dollars and above all after the exaggerated claims of Afghanistan, US and Pakistani authorities that they have defeated the terrorism-favoring Taliban.