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Editorial: Paradoxical overtones

Last week, the Americans and the Afghan Taliban inked what appeared to be a historic deal in Doha aimed at laying the groundwork for an end to the nearly two-decade-long conflict in Afghanistan. However, naysayers who pointed out that this was a doomed accord right from the outset were right after all as neither of the sides seems sincere in sticking to their commitments. Over the past week, events have been perplexing and paint a bleak picture of the deal’s success. The Afghan government refused to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. US President Donald Trump and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar talked over the telephone for more than half an hour, with the American president commenting that “the relationship is very good that I have with the mullah.” Nonetheless, that relationship came under question when the US bombed Taliban targets soon after the call, apparently because the militants had attacked Afghan troops. Furthermore, in a recent happening, violence revisited Kabul on Friday as gunmen affiliated to the Daesh terrorist group attacked a memorial gathering for Afghan leader, leaving 32 innocent people dead and scores of others wounded. The most severe blow of all that came was Trump’s recent remarks on the higher prospects of the Taliban to overrun the Afghan government after the pullout of foreign troops from the country as part of the peace pact. “You can only hold someone’s hand for so long. […] but eventually, they’re going to have to protect themselves.” It’s without a doubt that true peace can only be achieved when the Afghans themselves desire it, and all political, tribal and ethnic interests in the country are willing to exist in harmony and forge a modus vivendi that sans violence. However, Trump’s remarks have strong paradoxical overtones. On the one hand, the US is throwing weight behind the Afghan government to protect the gains of the past two decades and on the other, it is openly inviting the Taliban to overpower the incumbent dispensation as soon as they withdraw. Considering this insincerity, the Afghans should have realized by now that no foreign power or neighboring country – which merely pursue their own designs – can dictate peace in Afghanistan and that Afghans must come together in harmony themselves in order to chart out a peaceful future for the country. Given these developments, flexibility from both the sides – the Afghan government and the Taliban – is need of the hour. The Taliban must agree to the precondition of a comprehensive ceasefire and the Afghan government must agree to the release of inmates and thus avoid playing in the hands of foreigners and thwart the plans of spoilers of peace. Otherwise, if the sides don’t budge, following this much progress made in the peace process, the choice of returning to the battlefield will always be there and the carnage that has characterized life in Afghanistan for the past several decades will only continue as Afghans will blindly and unconsciously be serving foreign interests.

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