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Editorial: Prospects of Kabul conference

Interim government of the erstwhile president and then his successors have incessantly desperately sought out due attention of the world community to internal predicaments of Afghanistan. The desperation has been unraveled in various formats – one being an international conference of peace cooperation to echo the major problems and contemplate possibilities and solutions. Of course, peace and reconciliation with the Taliban has been their major pursuit – and ironically faced the insurgent’s perpetual denial.

This time around, the president of Afghanistan has taken a turnabout in his rhetoric and come up with an explicit solicitation. At the so-called international Kabul process conference on Wednesday – where representatives from over 20 countries had a discourse on peace and defense cooperation – Ghani proposed a comprehensive plan for peace talks which could get the Taliban reconciled with the government. He told the insurgent Taliban they could appear as a legitimate political group and have their own office; they could even have Afghan passports and enjoy unrestricted travels and media access.

The offer adds to a series of signals from both the government and the Taliban suggesting a greater willingness to consider dialogue. It presents an extraordinary package of bonuses and unprecedented concessions to the unruly insurgent Taliban. As a matter of fact, the Taliban are undergoing tough circumstances in the wake of heightened U.S. military airstrikes targeting militant strongholds, unanimity to dismantle their diplomatic office in Qatar, and increased sanctions levied on their financing. These factors have paved the ground for the submissiveness of the militant group. They have inflicted enough melancholy through their reprehensible fundamentalism and hooliganism. It is time they cast off their brutal ways of opposing the Western-backed government and embraced peace once and for all. Afghan people have had enough trouble. Now it is time for a change – a change in manners and politics.

The president has also shown readiness to enter a discourse with Pakistan to solve their issues. Although Afghanistan has offered amity to Pakistan, they have consecutively been rejecting us. We have undertaken the bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and even multilateral negotiations, but to no avail. The problem with the Afghan peace discourse is that Pakistan has an influential role to play in regional peace. It has a great influence on the militant Taliban and more drastically it is following a cunning strategic depth policy which defies any attempt from the Afghan side for a political refurbishment or reconciliation. So any peace effort is tied to Pakistanis.

Moreover, all the countries that have funded Afghanistan over the past decade-and-half have to bear in mind that their largesse has not really produced a satisfactory outcome especially in the sphere of defense. They need to come to terms with the fact that the phenomenon of violence and armed conflict should not be ignored anymore. We welcome the international concerns but it is not enough. We need more honest support. If they claim they have learnt from the past, they should start being pragmatic.

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