By Ambassador Dr. Zia Nezam, Former Afghan Ambassador to Vienne, Brussels and Rome
Making the elimination of ISIS and Al Qaeda the highest objective of the US-led coalition and seeking to compromise with the Taliban and Haqqani terrorists is the wrong path to peace to Afghanistan.
The main cause of instability in Afghanistan is the Taliban and Haqqani insurgency. Other terrorist organizations compared to these two groups present a much lesser threat. America and her allies has have fought bravely throughout my difficult Afghanistan for 16 years to bring security and further the construction of a modern nation state for the overwhelmingly majority of the Afghan people. Negotiating with the Taliban and the Haqqani to begin an exit will jeopardize all the investments made by our allies. To walk away now from an unstable, vulnerable Afghanistan with the task uncompleted — when authentic success is obtainable — is taking a wrong path.
Most terrorists come from the Taliban and Haqqani organizations. They are ruthless, radical ideologues for whom no negotiating or compromising exits, with governments as with their religious positions. These extremist groups are largely based in Pakistan with the acceptance of the Pakistani military. The only thing the Taliban and Haqqani leadership will accept is the total exit of coalition forces, forces who fight bravely to help the Afghan people create a government chosen by them and not imposed upon them.
For almost a decade the successive Afghan governments, acting in good faith, have wanted to make peace with the Islamist extremist forces without success. The Afghan governments have called the Taliban the “armed opposition” or an “unsatisfied brother” to avoid using the word “enemy.” As a concrete gesture to bring about peace through honest negotiations, the Afghan governments have released known terrorists in order to show a willingness to end hostilities and begin a peace process. But the anti-democratic extremist forces have rejected even a one-day cease-fire. Widespread violence and the daily killing of innocents continue.
Afghan government peace proposals or offers of cooperation are scorned by the Taliban and Haqqani. To them all efforts at negotiation are believed to be signs of the government’s weakness, so they continue their blood-letting. At present any government attempt to reach out heightens enemy morale and will demoralize Afghan armed forces if they lack the power and resolve of the US-led coalition.