Will peace return to Afghanistan?


Agha Masood

The Trump administration has given green signal to Mr Ashraf Ghani, the president of war-torn Afghanistan, to hold parleys with the Afghan Taliban to restore peace in the country.

Subsequently Mr Ghani has invited Afghan Taliban negotiate peace with them and to join his government, and be the part of mainstream Afghan political process. The chief executive Mr Abdullah Abdullah has also endorsed the views of Ashraf Ghani for the political settlement of Afghan’s perpetual problem. Mr Ghani has gone to the extent to have declared the Afghan Taliban as a political force and not terrorists as he has been declaring them in the past.

In this way, the Afghanistan’s president has offered the Taliban official recognition in a fresh attempt to draw its leaders to the negotiating table. He also promised to release the political prisoners, give them passports to travel abroad. While this new strategy proposed by USA through Afghan government is in real sense a pragmatic approach with far reaching consequences, but now the ball is in Afghan Taliban’s court. So far, they have not responded to the generous offer made by the Afghan Government. As far as our country is concerned, Pakistan is supporting the move and is ready as usual to help for the larger interest of peace not only in Afghanistan but in the entire region, which has been bearing the brunt of the Afghan war for decades. Pakistan views peace in Afghanistan as vital for peace in our own country and supports them in their endeavours.

When I am writing this column, twenty five representatives from as many countries of the region including Pakistan and the world have assembled in Kabul to discuss ways and means and devise comprehensive strategy which if agreed in principle will usher in a new era of peace and development in Afghanistan. However the big question which Afghan Taliban have been asking whether US forces will leave Afghanistan once the peace process starts? The answer to this question is extremely difficult, as far as I know the US will not leave Afghanistan until and unless the US is sure that insurgency led by the Afghan Taliban is completely stopped and the American interest in Afghanistan is protected. It will depend how the Taliban play their cards during the peace negotiations with all the stake-holders interested in peace in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say that they want direct talks with USA to resolve the issue but so far the US is not interested in direct talks with Taliban, this is the reason why the peace talks with Afghan government have been delayed. Yet another question which is equally important is the role of India in Afghanistan, India has been using Afghan soil against Pakistan to destablise it and is deadly against the CPEC which will push Pakistan to heights of economic development which India does not want at all.

The Prime Minister of India Mr Modi has openly earmarked a huge amount to be distributed among its agents to disrupt the development of CPEC. Then how peace can be restored? Moreover the Afghan Taliban if agreed to join the unity Government, will they tolerate the presence of India in Afghanistan? Afghan Taliban know very well that some anti- Muslim and anti-Pakistan army officers of India have been training in Afghan Army to fight and kill the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan has also blamed that India has been indulged in dirty game in Afghanistan against Pakistan as well in the region to develop its hegemony and supremacy which Pakistan will never accept. Therefore the Afghan problem is very complex and cumbersome and needs patient review of the whole situation while Pakistan is ready as always to help peace process successful, the ball lies in the court of Afghan Taliban, their response to the offer by the Afghan Government to bring lasting peace in the war-torn country.