With both the Taliban team and the US point man Zalmay Khalilzad being in Islamabad, there have been meetings held among the stakeholders – with efforts apparently being afoot to restart the peace process. The Taliban have so far been dismissive of the Afghan government and with regards to peace, the nation now depends on a new Afghan government which will probably emerge in a span of few weeks. While peace talks are currently in a standstill and the American position also seems lukewarm – it may well be different behind closed doors – a fresh peace overture may be possible with a new government in place. However, on top of all that, a recent development and a bone of contention is the Pakistan’s hosting of the Taliban delegation while according them a warm welcome. It is something which has caused controversy within the government – as the Afghan Presidential Palace and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) are not on the same page in what they say.
The MoFA welcomed the reviving of peace talks in Islamabad and Pakistan’s hosting of the Taliban whereas the Presidential Palace dubs it a serious breach of diplomatic propriety on the part of Pakistan. The government disapproves of Pakistan’s protocol accorded to the Taliban, who are still perpetrating violence with the only stance of waging war. President Ghani’s spokesman said that MoFA spokesman’s comments on the Taliban-Pakistan meeting didn’t reflect the Afghan government but was something personal. However, MoFA spokesman shortly responded to reiterate its stand, saying the ministry was the sole implementer of foreign policy and was reflecting the official position of the government. This is not the first time that internal squabbles happen between the Presidential Palace and MoFA. The ministry is under CEO Abdullah Abdullah’s control who last month suspended a presidential decree – aimed at investigating suspicious appointments within the ministry – claiming that Ghani’s initiative was part of a re-election strategy. This comes as footage of the Taliban delegation being warmly greeted by Pakistani leaders, and of the Taliban giving gifts to their hosts, was shown by news agencies and social media
At this stand, when there is an unprecedented opportunity to pursue peace – only pending the emergence of a new legitimate government – such kind of skirmishes and internal rifts reflect badly on the government as to how would it represent Afghans in likely peace negotiations when itself lacks control to act in a coordinated way? Such acts reveal that the government is weak from within and raises questions that how would it defend the Afghans’ rights on the negotiating table where there multiple different positions and viewpoints regarding peace coming out of its different entities. A certain amount of caution and stability is advisable at this crucial moment. The so-called unity government needn’t continue their differences until the very end of their term. They must have a united stance and position in terms of foreign policy. Otherwise, such kind of uncoordinated remarks and tussles compel the nation to expect the unexpected, signifying that the chances of peace have become even more remote because the government is so frail that it cannot control its organizations, let alone entering into peace negotiations on Afghans’ behalf.