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Herat a hopeful place to help bring peace in Afghanistan

8th Herat Security Dialogue (HSD-VIII)

By Mansoor Faizy

KABUL: The question today is not why peace is missing in Afghanistan? The question is from which window we, the Afghan masses can get peace back to our motherland. It should be us, the Afghans, to raise the question that why war has lasted so long? Abruptly calling off peace talks, a single hope to finally get the Taliban group in table of talks by US President Donald Trump, came on the cusp of a deal to likely end the war. There is doubt that even by peace, there would be no peace as Daesh threat is much larger. It has been said that over 20 terrorist groups are mainly operating. Escaping natters with pessimistic views, still there is room to finally achieve peace with indication and hard work. To bring it out, Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) held its “Herat Security Dialogue-VIII” from 18-19 October, in which diplomats, representatives from various countries and institutions, civil society and media outlets members were invited.

AISS is arranging security dialogue every year—the intention is very much clear which is the hope to gain peace. The participants, including some former Taliban officials, jointly and with a single voice called for end to the war, putting ceasefire on the top.    

Taliban have time and again rejected to node for ceasefire even during talks with US Special Envoy to Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha of Qatar. They, (Taliban) taking fighting as leverage in the talks that were called off by US President Donald Trump after the group’s suicide bomber killed 12 innocent Afghans and one American soldier in downtown Kabul city.

The keynote speaker, EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Ambassador Roland Kobia in the event expressed readiness to work for peace, but said it would be difficult to work with “Islamic Emirate”, a system failed when Taliban ruled the country from 1994 till 2001, which now strongly persisting on it.

“EU will be always beside Afghans. EU will support construction and developments, but there are principles to be respected, and with the “Islamic Emirate” would be very much difficult to continue.”

But it is very necessary to put an end to the war through a comprehensive peace talks process to help bring a greater stability to Afghanistan after an 18-year inconclusive war.

It is an intelligence and proxy war, said Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, former National Security Advisor, and a prominent politician, who once supported Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), but not inked during his time.

When President Ashraf Ghani elected after controversial 2014 presidential elections, his National Security Advisor Haneef Atmar, signed the BSA in an immediate move – has so far proved fatal, and Trump administration seemed totally ignoring the pact.

No doubts, the presence of foreign troops have made a good excuse for war, Spanta said, adding that landscape of the war could not be changed after pullout as proxy would be still animated.

The discussion and decision over withdrawal of foreign troops must be held with Afghan government, not with any other side, he added.

He is desperately looking for guarantee from Pakistani side not to interfere into internal affairs of Afghanistan during and after the peace deal.

In the wake of quit pullout of US troops, it could likely embolden terrorist group and plunge the nation into another decade of turmoil—which might then force the US to return to the battlefield in large numbers. Exactly, the same scenario- of Iraq where US withdrew too quickly in 2011- could be repeated in Afghanistan. It is very important how to handle the issue where the key must be a political settlement between Afghan government and the Taliban not the rapid withdrawal of US troops.   

The government should stop night raids and airstrikes on the Taliban, said Agha Jan Motasim, a finance minister during Taliban regime, who also called on the Taliban to stop attacks that hurt the civilians. He insisted for resumption of peace talks, and also to a government system acceptable for all Afghans. 

It doesn’t matter under which name-he referred to the government system- as at the moment peace is very much important.

There were good discussions, different challenges with different models of solutions were presented by the panelists and participants. Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies arrange Herat Security Dialogue every year in a quest for peace that eventually to bear fruits and peace will come through such venue for security dialogue for the country.

Herat Governor, Abdul Qayoum Rahimi has expressed readiness to host Intra-Afghan talks in Herat, where he believes only Afghans can understand the pain of each other.

Moreover, AISS Director General, Dr. Davood Moradian, who has been making all-out efforts for restoration of a dignified peace, announced that AISS is ready to host any direct Intra-Afghan peace talks in any provinces in Afghanistan.

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