Afghan peace efforts face fresh hurdles

By Sankar Ray. Dated: 5/11/2019 11:43:50 PM

Abdullah not convinced of Taliban's sincerity

Afghan peace effort has hit a strange speed breaker over the composition and size of representation, especially the insistence of the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of a list of 250 participants including around 50 women, according to a senior government official. This is in contrast to the list of 243 people announced by Qatar. All this caused a postponement of the dialogue which was scheduled to begin in the Qatari capital Doha. A disgusted Sultan Barakat, director of Qatar's Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, tweeted "this is unfortunately necessary to further build consensus as to who should participate in the conference". The Center has been sponsoring the dialogue that began in the tail end of 2018.
The most pessimistic in the US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad who in a video message to some Afghan youth in the US embassy to Kabul made no bones of his despair: "No serious steps have been taken over intra-Afghan dialogue as well as there is no development for a prominent ceasefire and end of war." He also tweeted in a mellowed tone "We're in touch with all parties and encouraged that everyone remains committed to dialogue. I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans." However, he hastened to add, "Dialogue is and always will be key to a political roadmap and lasting peace. There is no alternative. I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans. I stand ready to help if our help is needed."
Nonetheless, the setback to the Afghan peace efforts is no surprise in as much as it's a complicated process for which the US authorities are sole responsible, although the US President Donald Trump cannot be blamed. It is a hangover, imposed by his predecessors. Rather he took up the compulsion of the reality when he decided to initiate the process three days after his decision to withdraw from Syria (20 December 2018) that led to resignation of the US defence secretary James Mattis. Sticking to his stand, Trump told CBS on 23 December, 'We'll see what happens with the Taliban. They want peace. They're tired. Everybody's tired. I don't like endless wars. What we're doing has got to stop at some point.'
In September 2018, Khalilzad was picked up as Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation to refresh the dialogue with the Taliban that began in July last year. A US citizen, he is a Pashtun, belonging to the Noorzai tribe. He headed a department of the US think-tank RAND Corporation in the late 1990s and negotiated security arrangements for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project with the Taliban, then in power. His first diplomatic experience was participation as a representative in Afghanistan at the start of the US intervention in 2001.
However, the former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai is not pessimistic and feels strongly that the intra-Afghan dialogue on Afghan peace has no spokes ahead. Addressing the delegates at the three-day Eighth Moscow Conference on International Security, he said, "The second intra-Afghan meeting which was already organised, will be likely held in the near future in Qatar. This is a kind of comprehensive format and should be continued. "But alike the Taliban, Karzai calls his successor is Kabul as 'a US puppet'.
The Moscow initiative is to a considerable extent a diplomatic panacea. Karzai who looks forward to a joint initiative by the US, Russia and China on Afghanistan is to be treated as consequences of the defeat of terrorists in Syria imposing an assessment of threats to return militants to Africa and Asia which was analysed at the Moscow Conference. Actually, a plenary session was devoted to the Middle East topics, the consequences of the defeat of ISIS in Syria as also a political settlement and post-conflict reconstruction therein An important aspect seems to be the assessment of the threat of the return of terrorist terrorists to Africa and Asia, the problems of illegal migration and thus Afghan impasse was discussed.
The Chief Executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah, considers the Taliban as 'the obstacle' to a solution. The Taliban whose base area is not more than one-third of Afghanistan are still in touch with Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. In a detailed interview, he described Talibans as essentially a 'terrorist' outfit and 'not a political entity'. The Taliban had previously refused to hold direct talks with Ghani's government. Small wonder, Taiban leaders characterise Abdullah as a 'comie'.
Revolutionary postures notwithstanding, the Talibans are looking up to Washington - a realisation that a fatigue casts shadow over the highly risky guerrilla life. In an eight-minute audiotape, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was released from Pakistan jail a few months back has assured Afghans of a peace settlement. "If [Afghans] think of us like brothers, I trust in God that all the problems will be solved," Baradar said, speaking in Pushto. "I ask all our countrymen to be sure there is no need to worry. Everyone will be treated very well." But they are to face up to resistance from the steadily growing woman rights groups that stress tradition of modernity and gender equality. Khalida Khorsand a women's rights activist who was up against religious authorities' ban on Valentine's Day in Herat, her hometown and the capital of a large province of the same name in western Afghanistan bordering Iran , expressed concern over the mushrooming Islamic madrasahs that push Afghanistan back toward conservative values in the name of tradition and Islamic teachings.
—(IPA Service)

 

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