Afghan Peace Diplomacy
Shaikh Moazzam Khan
By Shaikh Moazzam Khan
On 29 February this year, Americans have surrendered to the Taliban and signed landmark agreement aimed at ending longest war of US in Afghanistan. The leading international scholars and newspapers termed the agreement as win-win situation for Afghanistan and the Taliban. Since the peace agreement, violence has reduced to minimum in Afghanistan but not over yet. The Taliban are still attacking Afghan forces. Americans have also carried out air strikes on Taliban’s posts few days back.
The question which arise here is that why Afghanistan is seeing violence despite the peace agreement? What are the factors behind the Afghan quagmire? Why Americans are not pushing Kabul administration to commence intra-Afghan dialogues with the Taliban? To find out the answer of these question, we need to pin point spoilers of the peace process. Unfortunately, India is one of the biggest spoiler in the region who didn’t wish to see peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan just because of its strategic pivot in the region. India is using all possible means to sabotage peace efforts. But, this time around, all its efforts went useless.
Now I would like to talk about the role of facilitator in Afghan peace process, played by other states. Unlike India, major international states including Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, tirelessly worked for establishing peace in war-torn Afghanistan. Pakistan is among those states who used its influence over the Taliban to push them for peace talks with the Americans. Despite having some troubles from other states, Pakistan proved its role as international player and peace seeker. Its positive role in the peace process compelled Americans to change their attitude towards Islamabad. US President Donald Trump openly acknowledged Pakistan’s optimistic role in the peace talks.
Surprisingly, while being in India this year on state visit, President Trump told 100,000 Indian in Motera Stadium Gujarat, that we have good relationship with Pakistan and they are doing best in Afghanistan for lasting peace. This is the best slap on the face of spoilers of peace process and those forces who were trying to accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in the region. Indian government used all its cards in Afghanistan to create anti-Pakistan aura but couldn’t achieve that.
Pakistani government with the help of regional players convinced the Taliban to have talks with the Americans in Doha. In last year September, when US President abruptly called off negotiations with the Taliban, it was Pakistan who led from the front and convinced both parties to restart negotiations from a point where they left.
Similarly, on 09 June 2020, Pakistan’s COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Kabul, a day after having consultations with Zalmy Khalilzad and American General Scott Miller in Islamabad. General Bajwa held meetings with Afghan political and military leadership regarding the peace process and ending deadlock in prisoner exchange program. Both sides agreed to expedite the peace process and efforts for intra-Afghan talks. General Bajwa, accompanied by DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq, assured Afghanistan’s leadership of Islamabad’s consistent support in establishing peace in the country.
With Pakistan’s leading role in peace process and US’ acknowledgment, Indian authorities seems unhappy. They are using politicians of Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to spoil the peace process and blame Pakistan for that. But as I said there efforts are not working this time. India is losing its space in Afghanistan after the singing of peace deal between the Taliban and Americans. With the support of RAW and NDS (Afghan Spy Agency), India is still making all efforts to get the sympathies of dissidents in Afghanistan.
The visit of Pakistani military and civil leadership is being viewed through the prism of cooperation and mending bilateral differences of both states. Afghan government positively responded to the Pakistan’s resolve for peace solution of Afghan crisis. However, Indian government is worried due to the expected role of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s helm of affairs and possible ties with Pakistan in post US withdrawal scenario. Despite suggestions from various politicians and foreign policy experts, Indian government seems hesitant to engage the Taliban.
At the end I would say that international community must unite to punish the spoilers of Afghan peace process. Whosoever is playing that role either it’s India or any other country must be held accountable. The bilateral economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan must enhance in all sectors. Both sides needs to find out solution of terrorism and extremism along Durind Line. Both countries can establish joint working group consisting of military and political leaders to sort out the border issues. Pakistani leadership is doing its best to undertake positive economic steps regarding Afghan-Pakistan transit trade. It is the responsibility of Afghan government as well to reciprocate to Pakistan’s optimism and resolve to see peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. The leadership in Afghanistan must stop acting against Pakistan at the behest on Indians. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan must increase their cultural exchange programs. Media houses of both countries should be positive while reporting about the issues and incidents in respective countries. This will help in building positive perception in the minds of people.