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Editorial: Unlocking Afghan conflict

Nothing can atone for ‘peace and reconciliation’ debacle and perhaps nothing can circumvent the menace it spews, except for a termination of perennial hypocrisy and political deceit; and nothing can unlock the conflict in the war-shattered country except for a genuine spirit and grit to recoil from unhinging quasi-counterterrorism policies by of those at the helm of the west bloc.

In 2017, Trump rescinded his predecessor’s ‘exit strategy’ – which laid the foundation of a dramatic military withdrawal – and quite the reverse he contemplated having to increase American troops here to ‘advise and foster’ an ailing indigenous defense force. That drastic change in U.S. foreign policy coincided with an inevitable pleading of the Taliban leadership to enter direct peace talks with the U.S. government; a quest that perpetuated hook, line and sinker and faced America’s refusal.

Another dramatic policy change is apparently in the offing, as Trump has gone counterintuitive once again. The unpredictable president is now seeking to cave to a perpetual demand of the unruly Taliban faction – an unforeseen variation on his anti-Talibanism rhetoric. He has reportedly told his diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban to galvanize a stalemated peace negotiation to end a grilling 17-year war.

Although Afghan people long for a peace dialogue led and owned by Afghans and although a degree of explicit cynicism and criticism from those often at the receiving end of these pompous homilies comes as little surprise, Trump’s position could prove productive and change the whole gloomy scenario by unlocking a peace dialogue impasse that has been haunting us as long as the insurgency has. This could potentially culminate into Taliban reconciling with the government of Afghanistan and an ultimate cessation of fighting – a war that has taken solace from us.

A framework for the Taliban’s reconciliation in the political theater should be defined too in line with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and acceptable for its people. It is because the people fear they may inadvertently be embroiled in an oligarchy and be forced to undergo authoritarianism, radicalism and extremism in another fashion with an absence of democracy and freedom. Such a scenario will be tantamount to another travesty. A faulty reconciliation of the militant group would inexorably have as much pitfalls as an unceasing failure to get reconciled with them. The interests and security of the people of Afghanistan precedes all other interests.

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