Taliban peace process

A 12-member delegation of the Afghan Taliban arrived in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad at the invitation of the government. This was the first visit of a Taliban delegation there since the Taliban’s established their political office in Qatar in 2013. Zalmay Khalilzad, the special US envoy for Afghan reconciliation, along with his team had already arrived in Islamabad before the Taliban delegation. The two sides claimed that had come up with new demands, with Washington demanding a total ceasefire in the war- torn country, and inclusion of the weak Kabul government in the peace process. Last month in the UN General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Trump to resume peace talks with the Taliban.
A few days ago, the efforts to bring the long war in Afghanistan to a close after US President Donald Trump abruptly announced via Twitter that talks with the Afghan Taliban were far away. The conclusion came after an American soldier was killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul. Mr. Trump had scheduled a surprised meeting at the Camp David pull out featuring members of the militia and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. After the Taliban targeted the recently held Afghan elections, it seemed that strong chances of peace became even more far away. Nevertheless, over the past few days, activities in Islamabad have shown that a new push for peace is being pursued.
Senior Taliban leader Mullah Baradar was in the capital and met the foreign minister. A part from the high-powered Taliban team, Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s leader for Afghanistan, was also in the federal capital at the same time. The Taliban leaders also met Prime Minister Imran Khan. Both sides agreed on the necessity of early resumption of the peace process. The Taliban delegation also requested for transportation, health and education for Afghan refugees. The Taliban have visited Russia, Iran and China, only to be stated that they should return to talks with the Americans.
The Afghan Taliban appear to be at a critical juncture again. They are to decide on a future political approach without losing excessive of their militant strength. The Taliban leadership had been estimating that the peace process would result as an accomplishment for them. Many thought that the peace process could collapse. The Taliban got the support of Moscow and Beijing, and most significantly in Islamabad. They were advised by all to return to the peace process. The advice worked well and the presidential election in Afghanistan was not as fierce as before, showing that the militia was ready to downgrade level of brutality. The Taliban have not formulated a political strategy but emphasized the withdrawal of foreign troops and devised a power-sharing formula with other stakeholders in Afghanistan. They were convinced that they would easily negotiate a deal and achieve power, which would also permit them to bring their fighters from the far flung rural areas into the cities. The Taliban delegation led by Mullah Baradar, which visited Islamabad recently, held some substantial meetings, further sign of moderating the Taliban attitude. The delegation met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, but the reported meeting with the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, was even more important. A US official rejected that these developments showed sign of the resumption of the peace process. It is obvious that the US itself wants to decide when talks would recommence. In this context it seems that the US has fewer alternatives in Afghanistan. A one-sided US withdrawal will also accelerate the conflict on numerous inside fronts and encourage outside elements to have placeholders. Pakistan’s standing is extensively fragile owing to what’s happening in India-held Kashmir and it looks like determined to extend all-out support to the US in the Afghan peace process. Also Pakistan wishes its relation with the US to be harmonized. Urgent support is required to keep Kashmir in the universe political conversation. In the event that Trump continues to offer mediation, it will serve the purpose and build positive on India. But this is not likely in view of the impeachment process going on him. Pakistan’s new scheme of leaving its past policy on Kashmir might thwart it. In any case Pakistan’s cooperation with the US on Afghanistan may hinder India from getting too proud.
China is also intensely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of US troops will be an opportunity for China that is the reason it whole heartedly encourages the peace process between the US and the Taliban. China will not take any dominant play in the conflict in Afghanistan, as it knows that if peace process fail the disadvantageous effect will accelerate Chinese problems in the adjacent Xinjiang province. Destabilization in Afghanistan could shake the region, thus impacting the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. In any good or bad situation, China would like to utilize most likely the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to encourage negotiations.
To frighten away people from the polling stations about two million challenged them. Remaining with violence as their only alternative the Taliban may like to think again to frame their mind. Should they continue with their violence to take power they would finish having no future of Afghanistan. The way forward for them is an approach towards finding the way to permanent peace in Afghanistan. They should implement ceasefire and help secure troop withdrawal schedule from the United States. This would not only favour them international support as possible leading stakeholder, but also help secure foreign financial assistance their country would immediately need after departure of the Americans. Rah mullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based expert on Afghan affairs, observes brilliant chances for the resumption of the process in spite of the hard stand of both Washington and the Taliban.There is more stress on Washington this time as it has to defend its readiness to restart the discontinued process not only before its own people but the whole world, including Kabul. According to him, the two sides will reach an agreement under which the Taliban will significantly reduce its attacks on Afghan and foreign forces, and in return, the US will stop its airstrikes against the militia.

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