After different rounds of informal talks in Norway, France and Qatar, the Taliban and Afghan government officials have met in Murree, Pakistan for talks this month to kick off the reconciliation process formally. The two warring parties have discussed to start the peace process after over a decade due to engagement of China, Pakistan and a few other countries in the process. Though, the details have not been shared by the government or the militant group, but it is said that the two parties had agreed only on holding another round of discussion after the holy month of Ramadan. The start might be seen by some as promising but it would not change anything unless seriousness was showed by the two sides. Hopes are tied to the talks and optimism regained ground but could not prevail for much long, because there is no end in sight to the ongoing violence and bloodbath. Violence and peace should not be taken as a single force.
Today’s suicide attack in Faryab province which claimed lives of 19 people including an Afghan soldier and injured 32 others including two operatives of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) is an indicator that the insurgent group is not serious about the peace talks, but want to buy more time to gain strength while capturing more areas and exploit weaknesses of the current government. Under the pretext of the reconciliation process, the Taliban also want to deflect the international pressure, because on the same day, the Taliban abducted and hanged a tribal elder, Haji Abbas, in Uruzgan province. If the count of single day was taken as a parameter it would not be difficult to envisage that insecurity would continue to grow in the coming days as the peace talks are not specific and result-oriented.
It is hard to believe that the Taliban would reach an agreement with the government over immediate ceasefire to end the ongoing violence. Therefore, one could not be sure that the Taliban would offer the olive branch to the National Unity Government when it is not ready to halt insurgency. Peace talks and violence cannot go hand-in-hand.
Similarly, the government cannot solely rely on the talks that are controlled by another state but it should be taken as one of the several available options. It is responsibility of the state to protect lives and properties of public. The government cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in the country because it is responsibility of the NUG to maintain law and order situation in the country. This could not happen if the government does not take steps in this regard. Thus, the government should explore different ways to deal with mounting insecurity. Best ways would be to accelerate and launch operations against anti-state elements. The more the insurgents are hunted and crippled it would give an edge to the government in the talks and reduce trust deficit between the ruling and ruled classes.
Understanding the nature of ongoing war and mindset of the militant groups is very important for successful execution of the anti-terrorism strategies. The relevant authorities at key positions should take it into consideration, because they cannot expect peace through carrots only. The option of stick should also be kept in view while dealing with the groups that do not accept writ of the government and challenge its authority.