Afghanistan » Peace

From the fifth meeting of QCG to submission of peace draft to HI

Published Date: May 21, 2016

The fifth meeting of Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China was held after three months break in Islamabad. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement declared that the objective of this meeting is the implementation of peace “roadmap” finalized in previous meetings[1].

This meeting comes at a time that the peace agreement between Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar) is finalized and its draft had been submitted to Hezeb-e-Isalmi (HI) delegation.

After the Taliban refused to participate in Quadrilateral Meetings and began their spring offenses under “Omari Operations” and after the bloody attack in Kabul, the Afghan government changed its peace strategy and prioritized fight against the Taliban. The question is after the fifth meeting of QCG how much is the initiation of peace talks with the Taliban possible? And how will be peace talks with HI Hekmatyar finalized?

 

The repeated commitments of Pakistan

In the third meeting[2] of Quadrilateral Meetings on February 6, 2016, the QCG agreed that at the end of February, Pakistan would bring the Taliban to the negotiation table. Later in the fourth meeting[3] of QCG on February 23, in Kabul, once again Pakistan agreed to bring the Taliban to negotiation table in the first week of March.

In the fourth meeting it was also agreed that the four countries particularly Pakistan will use force against those Taliban who do not join the Peace Process.

Releasing a statement[4] on March 5, 2016, the Taliban boycotted the Peace Process, and Pakistan was unable to bring the Taliban to peace talks. The Afghan government claims that Pakistan has not fulfill its commitments and emphasizes that Pakistan must launch military operations against those who are not willing to talk. Thus the atmosphere of distrust was dominant in Pak-Afghan relations; but when the Afghan Department of Protection of Senior Officials was attacked in Kabul, the bilateral relation between the two countries was unprecedentedly deteriorated.

 

Fifth meeting of QCG

In the last one month and after the deterioration of Kabul-Islamabad relations, Pakistani officials spoke about reinitiating Quadrilateral talks. After the bloody Kabul attack, Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz in a meeting with Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation in Islamabad and later in a meeting with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi in the fifth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) reiterated on continuation of QCG.

Eventually, the fifth meeting of QCG was held on May 18, 2016, in Islamabad and Afghan President’s Special Envoy and Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal participated the meeting on behalf of Afghanistan. Other delegations were led by Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the Special Representative of the United States to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard G. Olson and China’s Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs Deng Xijun.

The meeting ended with the call for peace in Afghanistan and the participants reiterated their commitments to support the negotiations and to find political solution to end the Afghan war. In this meeting the Kabul attack was condemned and representatives of the four countries reaffirmed their commitments to use their respective leverages and influences to achieve peace in Afghanistan. The joint press release of QCG has not stated anything about the date of talks with the Taliban but has stated that “the next meeting will be convened as mutually agreed”[5]. Also no indication was made about the implementation of commitments made in previous meetings.

Since the Afghan government did not sent a delegation from Kabul it indicates that the meeting was held in an atmosphere of distrust and that the Afghan government gave no importance to it. Dawa Khan Minapal the deputy spokesperson of the Afghan President has said that the Afghan government demands from Pakistan to fulfill its previous commitments first.

 

The future of Peace negotiations

After the failure of Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table and deadly explosion of Kabul, in a joint session of Parliament, the Afghan President said that he no longer trusts Pakistan and does not expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table. [6] Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz in response to Ghani’s expressions said that to bring the Taliban to peace talks is not only the duty of Pakistan.

Therefore, reinitiating the QCG meetings (fifth meeting) is rather to improve relations between the two countries, because the bilateral relations between the two countries were deteriorated after the fourth meeting of QCG.

Since on the one hand, the Taliban have boycotted Quadrilateral Peace talks and since on the other hand Pakistani officials have stated that bringing the Taliban to negotiations is not only the duty of Pakistan; the future of Peace talks does not seems promising.

 

Peace talks with Hezb-e-Islami

Peace talks with HI were initiated right after refusal of the Taliban from participation in the quadrilateral peace talks and HI sent its delegation to Kabul. The draft of a peace agreement (in three chapters and 25 articles) between HI and Afghan government was submitted to HI delegations after two months of negotiations. The draft deal is signed by head of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) which does not mean it is finalized.

Besides that the text of the draft which is claimed to be sent as final draft on behalf of Afghan government is also released in Media[7]. Given the preconditions of Hezb-e-Islami, there is some confusion in this draft which means that agreement on this deal will take a while.

The fourth article of the draft states that both sides support withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan but an exact date is not specified to begin the withdrawal of foreign troops which was one of HI’s preconditions. The fifth article of draft states that the Afghan government would demand the removal of Hekmatyar and HI members from UN and other countries’ blacklists; but in this regard, no grantee is mentioned, while judicial immunity of the leader and members of HI is the core precondition of HI.

Although it is said that some circles are trying to create obstacles in the way of peace negotiations with HI but peace talks would be successful if the two sides agreed on the above mentioned two pointes.

 

Afghan government’s peace policy

The Afghan government in its peace strategies rely on countries in the region particularly Pakistan. Although countries in the region can play a significant role in the Afghan peace process, but considering the quadrilateral talks, reliance on other countries would not be beneficial.

Reliance of the Afghan government on the other countries in its peace strategies is the main factor why the Taliban did not join the peace process despite the Afghan government’s efforts. That is also the main reason why the Taliban refused to participate in quadrilateral peace talks with the mediation of Pakistan.

Given the experience from the past neither war nor reliance on other countries is the remedy of the Afghan issue. Since The Taliban insists that their Political Office in Qatar is the only address that can conduct peace talks; the Afghan government must conduct peace talks through this channel. Although initiation of peace talks with the Taliban does not seem possible in near future but the Afghan government must start direct peace talks with the Taliban through an Afghan impartial mediator.

The end

[1] Read more in here: http://www.darivoa.com/a/quadrilateral-meeting-will-discuss-peace-map-in-islamabad-today/3335207.html

[2] The joint press release of QCG’s third meeting:

http://mfa.gov.af/fa/news/joint-press-release-the-third-meeting-of-the-quadrilateral-coordination-group-qcg-of-afghanistan-pakistan-the-united-states-and-china

[3] The Joint press release of QCG’s fourth meeting:

http://mfa.gov.af/fa/news/joint-press-release-the-fourth-meeting-of-the-quadrilateral-coordination-group-qcg-of-afghanistan-pakistan-the-united-states-and-china

[4] Read full text of the Taliban’s statement here:

http://alemara1.org/?p=43364

[5] The joint press release of fifth QCG meeting: http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pr051816.html

[6] Read about Ghani’s speech on this link:

http://president.gov.af/ps/news/76964

[7] text of possible agreement between HI and the Afghan government:

http://www.bbc.com/pashto/afghanistan/2016/05/160518_ns_afg_peace_agreement

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