US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan glimmers of hope for peace?


US President Joe Biden has announced his decision of pulling out US troops deeming intractable conflict in Afghanistan by September 2021, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that launched the longest war in the first place.
Joe Biden was against US troop presence in Afghanistan beyond May 1. However, Pentagon persuaded Biden that there should be direct or indirect pressure on Taliban, and US should continue to engage insurgents as well as there is no guarantee what will happen if the US just precipitously withdraws all the troops from Afghanistan. The US military also presented several options to Biden, which include: pulling troops out by or close to May 1; keeping troops in the country indefinitely, and; keeping troops in Afghanistan for a defined period to be determined by the President.
Biden on the other hand decides to end the prolonged war responsibly to guard against the threats to USA and to lessen the economic burden and toll of perpetual war for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives,” Biden went on. “Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”
The Taliban however have issued an ultimatum to the US on March 19; of repercussions if US troops did not abide by the agreement of the US-Taliban deal signed on February 29, 2020 of withdrawing by May 1, 2021.
The Afghan Taliban refused to attend a major summit on the Afghan peace process in Turkey.
It is pertinent to mention here that Turkey was hosting a crucial meeting this month with the United Nations and Qatar as part of a US-backed push to kick-start the Afghan peace process.
Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem in a text message said that Taliban can’t participate in Turkey’s conference but didn’t rule out to be a part of the summit if held later.
The United States’ envoy for Afghanistan, ZalmayKhalilzad, visiting all countries responsible for peace process to ensure a ceasefire and peace settlement that could include an interim government as a May 1 deadline to withdraw foreign troops looms.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani however has taken a rigid stance of forming interim coalition government in which the Taliban has political status, rather he supports the idea of holding elections in the country.
US’ Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin gave an important call to Pakistan’s Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa to seek Pakistan guarantee on peace process.
COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa during his conversation to US Secretary Lloyd J.Austin reiterated and assured that Pakistan will always support “Afghan led and Afghan Owned” Peace Process based on mutual consensus of all stakeholders as peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan.
Realizing Pakistan’s crucial role in establishing peace in Afghanistan President Joe Biden while talking to democrat leader the other day said ” Pakistan will also play an important role in the future for peace in Afghanistan”.
All world powers specifically US eyes on Pakistan as it understands the impact of civil war in Afghanistan.
US special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation ZalmayKhalilzad said “Pakistan’s leaders have emphasized publicly and to US officials that they do not support a military takeover by the Taliban. I believe they understand that not only Afghanistan, but their country too will face grave consequences in the event of a return to a wider civil war.”
USA seems serious to hasten its efforts to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as the conflict could not be solved by continued fighting, which is only causing innumerable loss to US economy only.
Afghanistan peace process though hampered as Biden delayed the pullout while his administration reviewed the agreement and Afghanistan policy by breaching February 2020 deal reached by the Trump administration with the Taliban for the US troop’s departures by May 1 2021.
The historic agreement paved the way for a full US troop’s withdrawal and the beginning of the intra-Afghan talks on a political settlement of the conflict.
The Biden’s announcement of US troop’s pullout by September has led to an accrual of mistrust and skepticism on both the sides.
The sluggishness of Doha process appears partly linked to how closely its timeline has converged with the latest US administration in power.
The Afghan Talibans are mostly on edge of capital Kabul and 30 millions of Afghans have known nothing but war and they are too touchy about their integrity and foreign intrusion and Americans now also seems beset of war weariness.
This conflict has though more endured none other than but by Afghans themselves.
The cost for perpetuating war have to exceed the gains for Talibans only.
Talibans are angry and anguished with Biden administration as they were promised that foreign forces will leave their land by May 1 and in their sight & opinion the delay is caused deliberately which is a blatant breach and violence of the Doha agreement.
Taliban inner sources have described the delay in withdrawal process as trust deficiency by new US Biden administration upon them and expressed utmost resentment and annoyance over the latest announced time line of the US troops withdrawal.
Talibans, hence refused to attend Istanbul conference to reenergize peace process and has also decided to halt all other negotiations they were meant to be holding with Afghan government in this context.
The extension of US troops in Afghanistan has apparently shattered the Talibans trust and problems will certainly be compounded if US fail to comply by Doha agreement and US surely will be liable for this, hence there is an urgent need to take Talibans concerns on board.
The Talibans have insisted on strict interpretation of May 1 withdrawal clause.
The new withdrawal plan complicates US efforts to broker peace between Afghan government and Talibans.
Peace process is hinged on Taliban’s reactions to two key dates of the deadline of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan i.e. May 1 and September 11.
The US should not delay in departing from Afghanistan for whatever the reasons as it going to “derail” the peace process that was to wind down the conflict and bloodshed in Afghanistan.
It is hoped that Talibans and United States will relent to some kind of compromise rather than indulging in threatening tones and warnings to hit hard each other.
Talibans wanted foreign forces to get out of Afghanistan. Now, once they are getting out even if it’s few months late, thus it is hoped that Taliban won’t walk away from the dialogues process.
The Doha process stipulated US troops withdrawal peacefully by 1 May or theoretically advanced the peace process as it was designed to be a stepping stone to a comprehensive settlement of the conflict by agreeing to a conditional timeline to combat forces and to overcome Taliban’s resistance to talk directly with the Afghan government.
The decision of withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan remains country’s best hope for reaching a political settlement that can under write a more peaceful future, both sides Talibans and US should show wisdom & maturity in formation of cordial and trustworthy atmosphere to impede new era of war and terrorism in the country.

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