Peace Process: from Afghan Government’s efforts to Pakistan’s repeated promises

After the deterioration of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Pakistani officials have once again spoken about the revival of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. In this regard, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, reported his efforts to resume the peace talks. Previously, Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Sharif had also said that if the Taliban did not make peace with the government of Afghanistan, they would join Daesh, then.

Two rounds of negotiations between the representatives of the government of Afghanistan and those who were introduced as Taliban’s representatives by Pakistan took place in Urumqi and Islamabad. In the Murree negotiations near Islamabad, when the debate reached a cease-fire, negotiations were postponed to the next round, but as the death news of Mullah Mohammed Omar was disclosed, the negotiations became postponed to an uncertain future, and the next round of negotiations is yet to be held.

The Afghan government has welcomed the statement of Nawaz Sharif, however, this time, it has sit a condition for the initiation of peace talks and has said that before anything else Pakistan should stop its support to the Taliban.

Pakistan’s Isolation and Nawaz Sharif’s visit to America

Ashraf Ghani’s friendlier policy, despite the shortcomings, toward Pakistan was to show the international community that Afghanistan is honest in its relations with Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan came under pressure after the negotiations between the representatives of the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan and the disclosure of the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar and also  President Ghani’s several statements about Pakistan’s  involvement in an undeclared war with Afghanistan and that first of all the peace should be made with Pakistan.   Hence the Pakistan Army Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister himself had talked about its struggles on initiating peace talks.

Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to travel to America and meet President Obama in the next few days. Part of the agenda of his visit is to discuss about the issue of Afghanistan as well. That’s why some analysts think that the recent statements of the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the eve of his trip to America, is a promotional campaign. However, it still seems that Pakistan, for ensuring its own interests, became obligated to improve its relations with Afghanistan and besides that to show international community that his country is honest in its relations with Afghanistan. But, Pakistan’s repeated promises for honest cooperation in the Afghan peace process and not fulfilling them have cause the Afghan side to see the Pakistan’s efforts with doubt and a strong guarantee is needed now.

Peace Efforts through High Peace Council

In President Hamid Karzai’s administration, efforts to attract the Taliban started. At the beginning, the government did not consider the Taliban as a remarkable group and it was thought that there is no need to make peace with this group in the presence of foreign troops and that the peace is achievable through war.

Reaching peace through war means that the opposition must be defeated in the war and so there would be no need to negotiations. Based on this vision and belief, Hamid Karzai established the High Peace Council.

Hezb-i Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that did not participate in the Bonn-I Conference and continued its war against the government of Hamid Karzai, gradually realized that war is not the solution to the problem of Afghanistan and if the Party can reach an understanding with the Kabul government, it could cooperate with the government instead of fighting against it.

Hekmatyar sent delegations to Kabul and presented a proposal on solving the problem of Afghanistan to Hamid Karzai, however, the government of Karzai did not pay attention to this proposal which was reviewed by Hekmatyar for several times; nevertheless, these visits resulted reintegration of the heads of these delegations in the government and an understanding did not become made with the leadership of the Party. On the other hand, the Party had lost its power as a force fighting against the foreign forces and the Afghan government.   

This experience made Hamid Karzai to start this game with the Taliban, also. At first he was in contact with the Taliban’s leaders based on ethnicity. Mullah Biradar, deputy of Mullah Omar, from the descent of Popalzai tribe, which Karzai also belong to the same tribe, was focused on. However, as the first condition of the Taliban is withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and establishment of a government based on Islamic Sharia, so, the Taliban cannot be convinced to reintegrate. Hence, the efforts of the High Peace Council (HPC) remained fruitless and it would not have achievements after that. 

Putting Pressures on Pakistan

In the case, the first condition of the Taliban for peace negations was full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the National Unity Government (NUG) signed the Security Agreement with America within 24 hours after it sworn in, and through this it blocked the road to negotiations with the Taliban. The condition of Hamid Karzai for signing the Security Agreement was providence of peace in Afghanistan, but, the leaders of NUG had thought that the presence of American forces in Afghanistan and its long-term military assistance would be guaranteeing peace in Afghanistan.    

Ashraf Ghani, before becoming the President, was talking about peace but he, in response to those who were considering him careless about peace for signing the Security Agreement with America, had said that China and Pakistani have promised me that they would make the Taliban to make peace with us. I do not need to negotiate with the Taliban.   

Ashraf Ghani, with such a confidence, provided a lot of concessions to Pakistan and accepted a series of commitments. However, it must be admitted that not only Pakistan is involved in the issue of Afghanistan, but, the interests of a lot of countries including America and UK are tied to insecurity in Afghanistan. Russia, after passing a period of difficulties, recovers and a new Cold War between Russia and America is going to take shape, the rivalries between the oil-rich Arab countries and Iran is taken from Syria and Iraq to Yemen and India and Pakistan are engaged in its disputes until now. So, considering Pakistan as a solution-key to the problems of Afghanistan and expecting counties like China to put pressure on Pakistan is fruitless.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, the new leader of the Taliban, in his first speech, had mentioned this issue that the peace negotiations were just a game and the war would be continuing. Some individuals interpret this word of the new leader of the Taliban that there would be no negotiations anymore and the Taliban would return to their position before 2009 once again.

However, the new leader of the Taliban mentioned the Taliban Political Office (TPC) in his speech, also. Considering that TPC is the only source appointed for negotiations, so, it could be understand that the peace negotiations are not removed from the agenda of the new leader of the Taliban, but, the only way to direct negotiations with the Taliban is not putting pressure on Pakistan.

Whether the Taliban would Join Daesh?

Recently, remarks about the presence and power of the “Islamic State” in Afghanistan are heard that seems exaggerated. Gen. Raheel Sharif expressed concerns regarding the situation in Afghanistan that perhaps the Taliban would join Daesh, if the peace negotiations were not started between the Afghan government and the Taliban.    

Gen. John Campbell also expressed his concern about the broadening the scope of Daesh for recruitment in various parts of Afghanistan and the ambassador of Great Britain in Kabul also called the activities of Deash in Afghanistan “worrying”. This statement is heard in circumstances where the Taliban have insecure a large part of the north of Afghanistan and had presence in the important city of Kunduz for two weeks.

Magnification of ISIS by America and UK would be due to fear that if foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban would bring large parts of Afghanistan under their control. During past fourteen years, the West suffered enormous financial costs and human casualties; therefore, now, they cannot say that the Taliban are still strong. Such a confession would mean admitting defeat. People in the West think of that if our forces were unable to defeat the Taliban in over fourteen years; so, they have to return home, then.

Hence, being the self-made group named Daesh on the ground and magnifying it can create a new mentality among the people in the West. Meaning that, the new emerged enemy is more dangerous than Taliban and Al Qaeda and so our forces should stay in Afghanistan in order to fight them.

The Need of an Intra-Afghan Understanding

The latest insecurities in the country and fall of Kunduz has showed that the Taliban, after 14 years of War on Terror, headed by America, are yet to be defeated and even have powerful presence in the play, now. This is the obvious reason behind the failure of the strategy of achieving the peace through war.  

For the both sides of the war, it should be noted that the regional conflicts are being complicated day by day that provoking ethnic and religious conflicts are its initial characteristic. If this war continues in our country, we will not be able to get out of this dangerous abyss and will be drawn willy-nilly into it. This war will cause the entire ethnicities of Afghanistan to become defeated and their enemies to become succeeded.  

The only solution to the problem of Afghanistan is establishment of an intra-Afghan understanding. Intra-Afghan understanding and efforts for creating an impartial mediation group can prevent the continuation of proxy wars among other countries in Afghanistan.

The End

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