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Afghanistan’s security and regional cooperation

At last some good signs have started appearing on the political stage of the country and the region. President Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to visit Russia today to attend the Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS summits. Ghani is expected to ask for full membership status of the organization for Afghanistan.

What makes this conference different from those held in the past is that it is focused only on Afghanistan’s security. Moreover, the Prime Minister of India, Modi is also going to attend the conference. He is on visit to Central Asian Republics. His objective is to charm the Muslim nations. He will also attempt to oppose the ISIS, a new global terror outfit which has already made deep inroads in Afghanistan.

Though, many security officials and defense affairs analysts in Afghanistan believe that the ISIS is just a rebrand of the Taliban, but this is not this much a simple issue. The political designs of this group is different than the designs of the Taliban as the latter is  just a domestic resistance movement with support from some regional countries, but the ISIS is more dangerous and lethal as its designs are global, which is hell-bent on eroding frontiers and bringing the Muslim countries under its fold. Modi will also meet his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the SCO. Modi will talk to him on the spread of ISIS in the region.

The next good sign is the start of formal peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government representatives. Pakistan, as the new avenue of talks, looks promising, because after signing an intelligence sharing deal with Pakistan, Ghani had come under severe criticism. When the political settlement is the only way out to overcome the violence, Ghani has been vehemently under attack at home for his attempts to enlist the help of Islamabad in bringing the Taliban to the table of negotiations. Ghani has also sought China’s help.

In the wake of a new threat on the spread, the emergence of Daesh, the Taliban doesn’t look in the mood to fight for another decade as the Taliban are facing challenges from Daesh. Their efforts will be to make maximum of their demands accepted, which is why they have increased their deadliest attacks in Afghanistan. Ghani is still under pressure and it is particularly in the hands of Pakistan now that whether it wants him to be a successful in bringing the Taliban to the table of negotiations or become history for enlisting Pakistan’s help. In the eyes of too many Afghans at home, Ghani has been barking a wrong tree as Afghan parliamentarians, bureaucracy, big guns from the political administration of the ex-president Karzai, and big guns from the defense forces are extremely skeptic of Pakistan’s help. Yet despite all these pressures, some good signs are appearing that are making the political environment conducive for talks and regional cooperation. Given that there is sincerity among the regional key players, peace is not a distant dream. And if trust-deficit and blame-game still continue to dominate the scene then peace doesn’t stand any chance, the regional cooperation and integration will ever remain a dream and the West will keep continue intervening.

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