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Tentative peace deal could end unfettered turmoil in Afghanistan

By Mansoor Faizy

Afghanistan has been in a whirl of unending war and unfettered turmoil since long years—almost four decades, whereas peace – or at least a state of normalcy – is a distant dream with thousands of casualties taken from ordinary Afghans and the security personnel. This war has to be ended. If not today, then when. The Afghans can’t live in such uncertain situation till doomsday. State of normalcy must be restored. We are not a mistake of history or erect by outsiders. We are history-old nation with pride. Peace must prevail, and to do so, the responsibility utterly on the shoulder of the Afghan government to use every opportunity inching toward peace. The process should be taken seriously and deadlock reconciliation process must be unlocked by direct talks between Kabul and Taliban peace negotiators. Pakistan took credit for convincing Taliban to nod for talks with US officials. Like it’s not possible for a jockey to ride a horse to death, likewise, it is not rational to think it was all Pakistan who brought the Taliban to the table of talks unless pressure from Trump administration. Goggling, one can go through plenty of news where US pressured Pakistan, even Trump called Islamabad a hypocrite who in return of millions of dollars in aid, did nothing in the war on terror, rather deceived Washington with doing little. However, still Pakistan’s role is crucial and Afghanistan appreciates it and looks for more sincere cooperation.    

It’s also a fact that no more carrots as US now is using sticks against Pakistan with taking lead in direct negotiations with the Taliban—its special envoy making all-out efforts to bring an end to the 18-year war. Khalilzad briefed President Ghani on Sunday night over progress made during talks with Taliban in Qatar that probably agreement made over timetable of US troop withdrawal, ceasefire, and interim government. Yet, these developments have not been confirmed by Taliban, but meanwhile said the meetings were fruitful that has raised hopes that the process could be ended up with a tangible result. In his address to the nation on Monday, Ghani assured that their rights would not be compromised in the name of peace. He called on Taliban to enter direct talks with the Afghan government to avoid being used as a tool by foreigners.

In the face of unexpected progress toward a tentative peace deal, now all eggs are in the basket of Taliban with expectations in return to give eggfruit as US officials say they are closer than ever to a comprehensive agreement with the Taliban in Washington’s longest war ever. Optimism would be twofold once Taliban sit in talks with Afghans and there could be a deal insight to end longstanding conflict. The possibility is glooming further because the Taliban leaders become more visible than ever that has raised the prospect of being on the edge of securing peace in a country ravaged by war for over one and half decades. Moreover, Taliban sources told Reuters news agency that a new round of talks with the U.S. was expected to begin late February in Doha. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s co-founder and a former military commander who was released from prison in Pakistan last year, is expected to lead the Taliban delegation.

From Afghan perspective, no one than Afghans who suffered a lot, comprehend the value of peace and security. 45,000 of casualties from Afghan security forces were revealed by President Ghani. The figure is since he assumed office in 2014. So, it means 45,000 widows—if all of them married. So take half of them which still make a big number. Likewise thousands of children lost their fathers that could be only bread winner of the family. These families suddenly triggered into poverty now which itself is a disaster. So, this is only security personnel causalities where there is no touch upon civilians suffering who lost thousands family members in different act of violence. So who else than the Afghans understands the value of peace? But there are some sticking points where the Afghan government and the masses will never compromise on, such as national sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and also some major gains in the past 17 years. In any peace deal, the hard won progress of the Afghan people, besides nurture a free and open society, where the rights of all are respected—where women have an equal say and share in running of the national and its affairs like today—and this is reality that cannot be ignored.

Mr. Mansoor Ahmad Faizy is Editor-in-Chief in Afghanistan Times Daily, and a member of Rana Think Tank. You can follow him on twitter @Mansoorfaizy001

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