By Nadir shah Katawazai
The Peace Deal between the US and Taliban signed in late February 2020, consists of four main points. The first and the most crucial step were to break the ice between the Afghan government and Taliban through intra-afghan dialogue that became the turning point of the peace deal. However, the intra-Afghan dialogue still remains in stalemate after the completion of one year and everything is only in documentation with no visible improvement in ground reality. The second step was the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan that was a tough decision for the US and also a challenge for the Afghan National Army as to how to tackle the safety of a country from both internal and external threats. The Taliban have said that if the US does not withdraw their forces within the due date that will mean a violation of the deal. The third step was the release of five thousand prisoners of war who were in the custody of the Afghan government that were to be released within ten days, albeit the refusal of the Afghan government and internal political tension which triggered the release of the prisoners to take more than six months. The fourth and last step was the full guarantee of the US forces that they will not pose any threat in future from any groups or militants. After the deal was signed no such grave attacks were conducted by the Taliban against US forces until the completion of one year of the deal.
Due to political disturbances caused by the conflicts among the leaders, alongside the parallel ceremony of which the militants took advantage of, the overall political tension has halted the way of peace process as months continues to pass. Beyond that, the attacks escalate from opponent’s side which resulted in two of the worse attacks recorded during the year; one on a Maternity hospital that left many innocent babies and pregnant women dead and injured, and the other on a funeral in Nanghar province that left several destitute. These attacks have shocked the world and were condemned across the globe. After the attacks, the President ordered the security forces to resume their aggressive policy. The aggressive policies have increased the intensity of bloodshed from both sides in which more damage was dealt, especially to militants instead of security personnel in various provinces. The arrests of Islamic State top leadership along with their many colleagues have shown the potential of security forces to the militants after several successful operations. Mr. Ghani urged militants to stop the killing of innocent children and women and is persistent on a cease-fire, but the opposite side denied the cease-fire and insisted on continued attacks.
The Trump Administration halted the peace talks with one tweet that killed an American and dozens of civilians in capital Kabul, while later resumed talks during the visit to Bagram Airbase for Thanks giving Celebration for the troops where President Ghani was also present. President Trump was in a hurry to withdraw the forces before the US Presidential election. One reporter at Bagram airfield asked a question from Trump about the resumption of talks to which he replied that “The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they do want to do a ceasefire. I believe it’ll probably work out that way.”
The Afghan delegates that led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah chairman of the high council for Afghanistan Reconciliation for peace with its members visited Qatar for talks with the Taliban delegates and were there for several months but didn’t reached any agreement. The peace talks were paused for one month in late December and Afghan delegates came back home and Taliban went to Pakistan. The Afghan delegation went to Qatar in January again but no delegates from Taliban arrived after several of days have passed. There is still a deadlock in talks and transitions in the US after the Presidential election.
The new US administration under the Biden presidency is rethinking on the deal again and accelerated the engagement with the Afghan government as national security advisors of the US talked on phone with the Afghan National security advisor on the development of peace and future strategy. The Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mohammed Qureshi has urged the US new administration to continue the talks according to the deal to ensure prevailing peace and stability of the region.
The recent visit of Taliban to Iran and Russia can be considered as a way to pressure the new US administration to follow the deal because the Taliban fear that the President Biden will halt the talks. Hence, the Taliban wants a guarantee by demanding the Afghan Government to release the prisoners of significant status from their custody.
The government have shown more flexibility in releasing five thousand prisoners after calling of the Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga) and that the favor of the release of prisoners to speed up the peace talks and to stop the bloodshed which continued for more than four decades. The opponents have not shown such flexibility that reduces the violence and despite the release of prisoners the government faces the rise of pressure internally. The government claimed that the released prisoners had once again gone to the battlefield.
Taliban are pretending and demanding one condition after another and are not ready to sit with the Afghan government and now want to release more prisoners that are involved with some Pakistanis. After the completion of one year, no effective steps have been taken while the deadlock is sustained. Pakistan is the main orbit that can bring the Taliban to the peace table and pressurize them to reduce the violence. The treatment of injured Taliban continues in the metropolitan city of Pakistan in Karachi and their safe havens still exist in the Quetta and Peshawar city. The role of Pakistan is very important in the overall scenario to persuade the militants for ceasefire and perpetual peace.
One of the members of the Taliban delegates Abbas stanikzai recently talking in Russia claimed that the Interim government is the red line of Taliban and no other option to talk with the Afghan government. the Afghan government in retaliation and persistent on democratic transfer of power means through election and no other way because the Ghani regime is of the view that past blunders will not be repeated as in 1992 when former President Najeeb government was removed and hung publically. The Afghan government is saying that the Taliban has no strategy to talk with the government and are working for the interests of other countries. The President stressed that the interim setup is just the bleeding of bloodshed and no other means.
In a nutshell, the people of Afghanistan have close eyes and hope for the new US-Administration to review the deal that was singed without involment of the Afghan government. If an agreement is not reached soon, the coming summer will be the bloody and the atrocities will increase from both sides that will have a worse impact on the progress as well as the stumbling economy of the country. The violence will also spread to neighboring countries which will be very difficult to control and result in chaos.