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Peace deal with Taliban; where to go?

Byline: Dr Nasreen Akhtar

PRESIDENT Trump has called off peace negotiations with Taliban and surprised the

world. An American soldier was killed in a recent bombing attack in Kabul and the Taliban claimed responsibility. 'There is no agreement with the Americans that we will not carry out attacks. But when the peace agreement is signed, (we) will honour whatever decisions are made in the agreement'. Taliban will remain a challenging force. Pre-and post-Taliban Afghanistan has been chaotic, though, Taliban's regime maintained peace but their ruthless rule remained unpopular till the end of their rule. Though the US-led NATO forces eliminated the Taliban regime but they failed to remove them from their soil, Afghanistan. Presently, Afghanistan's internal and external dimensions are shaping the regional security and political environment. America's great shift to negotiate with the main Afghanistan's actors, Taliban, altering the regional and global politics and Taliban are going to be the 'key player' and would be known as the victors in international politics. Afghanistan's internal political and security environment always enforced Pakistan's policy makers to play their role to secure borders and security of Pakistan knowingly that India would use Afghanistan's soil against Pakistan 'this must be the foundational idea of Pakistan's policy towards this unfortunate country (Ufghanistan) that has gone through three cycles of war, spanning over a period of about 40 years'. Indeed, the people of Afghanistan suffered and paid high price. During 18 years long war in Afghanistan, America has spent massive amount to eliminate Taliban but failed. Resurgence of Taliban and the vulnerability of Afghanistan's government have exhausted the foreign forces and America. America's policy to engage Pakistan in reconciliation process in Afghanistan has irked India. Why is peace process annoying India? India believed that America would not leave Afghanistan and it would undermine Pakistan from Afghanistan's soil.

Many analysts assume that President Trump's astutely playing, though he seems pragmatic and rational to bring the Taliban on table-talk but who knows the 'intension'. I think two factors have forced America to engage the Taliban to bring peace in Afghanistan. One, Taliban have established a much stronger foothold than ever before, in some of the northern provinces they have pushed the national security forces off their positions and captured major areas in Afghanistan. Second reason is more troubling not only to America but also for the whole regional and international community that is the failure of Afghan's government, and security forces which have lost their credibility and failed to curb the Taliban's capacity despite the fact India has invested to train the Afghan's Army and security forces, but for peace India did nothing which annoyed America. President Trump has sensed the heavy cost on 'war against terrorism' in Afghanistan. He questioned his own people that 'Why is not Russia there (in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban)? Why isn't India there? Why isn't Pakistan there? Why are we (US) there? We are 6,000 miles away'.

America has approached Taliban and Pakistan for respectful departure from Afghanistan. During war or peace, Pakistan has always played its fundamental role in Afghanistan. Throughout Afghan-Soviet war Pakistan helped America to vanquish America's powerful rival-USSR, whereas India was enjoying its security relationship with Moscow and ignored Afghanistan. Trumps' policy to withdraw American forces and accepting the Taliban foremost party in Afghanistan has certainly alienated and sidelined India. Though President Trump rebuked Pakistan through his tweets but Pakistan wisely responded. Ice melted when Prime Minister Imran Khan met President Trump. Pakistan has welcomed Trump's pragmatism which is eventually changing regional and global political environment. The change rests on a fundamental shift in America's policy from supporting India in investing in Afghanistan and denied Pakistan's role. The new policy shift has been a part of Trump's ideology -'America comes first'.

South Asia region is known as the most dangerous region in the world but why? We know there are two nuclear states- India, Pakistan. China is a strong partner of Pakistan. China and Pakistan will benefit if peace returns to Afghanistan which is not in the interest of India. Only violent regional environment would benefit India to propagate against Pakistan which has successfully persuaded its allies-Saudi Arab and China. These states are also keen in Afghanistan's peace process and reconciliation. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has played his role in finalizing the peace deal with Taliban. The peace deal between the Taliban and Trump's Administration ' would set the stage for the withdrawal of most Americans forces by the end of 2020 of November if the Taliban do three things: open negotiations with the US-backed Afghan government; reduce violence near areas US forces control and keep foreign militants out of the areas they control'. I think, no guarantee can be given if India provides heavy assistance to the Northern Alliance, a Taliban's rival group. India, in the past, has been supporting Northern Alliance. So what is the guarantee that India would stay away from Afghanistan's internal affairs and would not support Taliban's rivals? There is another concern which is being raised by the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the Taliban's condition that peace deal or agreement would be signed with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) which was founded by the Taliban in 1996. This is a great challenge to accept the Taliban's ousted regime. Hopefully, the main parties and stakeholder would agree on respectable and durable peace deal that may help the people of Afghanistan to live in peace.
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Publication:Pakistan Observer (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Date:Sep 10, 2019
Words:1017
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