By Farhad Naibkhel
KABUL: Expectation from the ongoing peace push to end the decades old war in Afghanistan by US, and Russia to convince Taliban shun violence, is getting momentum but with unguarded optimism about the reconciliation with the group.
Efforts between the two rival countries, US and Russia, who have several issues within each others, but have come forward to end war in Afghanistan is nothing but a worthy of appreciation. Both the countries tried to talk with Taliban. The US administration that is directly involved and has military mission to end war in Afghanistan has sit several times with the Taliban group to find out political settlement. Zalmay Khalilzad US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation held fourth round of talks with Taliban in Qatar, where they reached agreement in principles. The fifth round of talks to be held on Monday, but Taliban’s new political chief and head of Qatar Political Office, Mullah Baradar, a key member of the group, would be miss due to some reasons, including lack of traveling documents that preventing him from traveling abroad. His participation was very much crucial at the moment as Khalilzad would take the issue of ceasefire and direct talks with Afghan government with Taliban negotiating members.
Surely ambiguity surrounds Baradar’s nonparticipation, and Afghan government lambasted Pakistan. Bashir Safi, Information Operation Advisor to the Office of National Security Council said they learned that Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Beradar is placed under house arrest by Pakistani authorities.
“That’s the main concern of the people of Afghanistan, it’s time for Taliban leadership to decide independently, be part of the Afghan-Led and Intra-Afghan peace talks,” he wrote in his twitter account.
He called on Taliban leaders to visit nearest Afghan embassy, consulate in Pakistan to apply for Afghan passport, and or obtain travel authorization from the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan if they are listed at GoIROA WPs, UNSC DTGs or United States DFTO/SDT/FTOs.
However, peace talks would continue with or without Baradar’s participation, as US and Russian Special Envoy for Peace in Afghanistan have backed and agreed all-inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue which is essential to advance the current peace efforts.
To move forward, Afghans should name a unified, inclusive and national negotiating team that includes the Afghan government and other Afghans, Khalilzad told his Russian counterpart Zamir Kabulov during their meeting.
“We also agreed that any final agreement must guarantee that Afghan soil is never used by international terrorists against any country. Also discussed a potential regional framework to coordinate efforts for peace and deter spoilers,” he added.
All set for Khalilzad to sit in another round of talks with Taliban in Doha just as recently they met Afghan influential figures in Moscow in first such kind of intra-Afghan talks. They discussed key issues, where two women representing Afghan women were also attended the conversation. Many have pinned hope for Moscow talks, but the Kabul administration said they don’t have executive powers. The National Unity Government owns all right to blame Taliban because the group has yet to agree for direct talks with Afghan government.
After Moscow hosted talks between Afghan politicians who are not part of government, and Taliban members that have risen hope for a real region consensus to help bring peace in Afghanistan. It has also raised expectation for an honest approach by international community to support Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process to pave ways for a durable peace in the country.
Surely, peace will prevail if regional countries to continue sincere support to Afghan peace, unless all the efforts for peace would be in vain. It is of the most benefit of the regional and world to compete in facilitating peace talks. There should be healthy competition among stake holders to end war in its most proper way.
But some political pundits differentiate between supporting steps toward peace, and supporting peace process as general, in which Russia pledged to use its diplomatic muscle to help spur peace efforts in Afghanistan.
Some analysts say only one country alone doesn’t have capacity to bring durable peace in Afghanistan; they believe regional countries support is impotent.
Political Pundit Mohammad Haroon Mir said there are positive and negative viewpoints over Russia mediations in peace process. But it is a fact that Russia is one of the super powers in the region, which could play key role in the region and peace process in Afghanistan.
In order to reach a sustainable peace and have good outcome, all region and world countries must have consensus and support honestly Afghanistan peace process, he added.
Another political expert, Ahmad Saedi said Moscow peace talks revealed importance of regional countries in peace talks as without their cooperation it is impossible to reach a durable peace. However, he has said this cooperation should be honestly only for peace.
He said that when the Soviet Union pulled its troops out of Afghanistan, Afghans in that time believed that that USA would build their country. But by passing each year, the people understood that each country including USA and Russia seeking their own interests.
However, it’s difficult to say Qatar talks will bring peace, or blindly pin hope on Moscow talks. But one thing is clear that either Doha or Moscow could be lucky coin for Afghanistan to end the war, or maybe both.