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Editorial: Don’t play into the hands of enemies!

Despite the US-Taliban peace deal, a three-day Eid-ul-Fitr truce and promises of reduction in violence, fighting has further escalated in Afghanistan against all expectations. Violence continues to rise as attacks between both sides – the government and the Taliban – persist. Meanwhile, the US military informed of launching its first airstrike against the Taliban since the end of the three-day ceasefire. Simultaneously, these parties are also actively engaged in finding a peaceful and political solution to the Afghan war. There have been massive prisoner swap measures taken by the Afghan government and the Taliban – with the total number of insurgents released by the government standing at nearly 3,000 and those freed by the Taliban at 400. This is while the Afghan government has also informed of setting free another 1,000 Taliban inmates in the next few days. Amid these developments, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad once again embarked on a three-nation visit to Doha, Islamabad and Kabul. He met Taliban representatives in Doha before conferring on Afghan peace with Pakistani authorities in Islamabad. Khalilzad is expected in Kabul at a time that the Afghan government is reportedly seeking to determine the date and venue of the about-to-happen intra-Afghan negotiations. Considering these signs of progress, one can say the intra-Afghan talks are just around the counter. Although the prisoner swap which is deemed a precondition for all-Afghan negotiations has been speed up, there are still issues in this regard. Afghan government asserts the process is on the skids because the Taliban are demanding masterminds of terrorist attacks be freed. However, when the warring parties could hammer out their earlier staunch differences, compromising on prisoner exchange is not a huge task to overcome. The current circumstances are fully conducive for resulting in a peaceful solution to the current war. The belligerent parties need to take this window of opportunity – which has become all the more urgent due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and bring the plans of a peaceful Afghanistan to fruition. At this juncture, any party that delays and creates hurdles for the initiation of intra-Afghan talks is just trying to increase its bargaining power and doesn’t have the sincere will to find a peaceful solution yet. However, it shouldn’t be so. The parties into conflict have since long realized that there is no military solution to Afghan war; therefore, if that is so then prolonging peaceful solution is only going to benefit war hawks and Afghanistan’s enemies who see their interests in conflict. Thus, the Afghan government and the Taliban are well-advised to stop playing into the hands of enemies who are there to exploit the situation and launch the intra-Afghan talks at the earliest to resolve everything through dialogue.

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