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Pakistan’s brokered peace: A false spring

Amid mixed speculations regarding the recently held peace negotiations between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban including Haqqani Network and Quetta Shura, in the scenic tourist resort of Murree in Pakistan, a member of the Taliban’s political office in Doha Qatar claimed that the talked have been hijacked by Pakistani officials. He said they brokered the meeting with unauthorized Taliban representative. A tweet by a Taliban member termed Mullah Abdul Jalil, Ibrahim Haqqani and Mullah Abbas Akhund as ISI agents who were fired by Mullah Omar.

However, the Afghan government envoys said Thursday that the insurgents they held talks with last week had the blessings of the Taliban Deputy Leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. The two contrasting claims make the prospect of peace negotiations quite murky. The impression that all those who attended the peace talks in Murree as the representatives of the Taliban are the ISI agents was built deliberately. Can they tell the Afghan nation who they are (those sitting in Doha)? Are they not the agents of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI? Can they tell the nation where Mullah Omar is? Can they tell the nation that how they reached Doha, the capital city of Qatar and how they travelled to China and Norway? Who provided them the travelling credentials? The world knows that they have travelled to Qatar, China and Norway with Pakistani documents, and yet they brazenly allege others to be the agents of the ISI.

This is a deliberate attempt of Pakistan’s intelligence agency which has a long history of intervention in Afghanistan and supporting the Taliban to release the drama from two different stations—from Qatar and Murree. They could tell the international community and the Afghan government that Islamabad brokered the peace talks in Murree and they are helping the Afghan peace process. While at the same time they would tell the international community that there is rupture in Taliban leaders over the peace talks, and this is what caused the failure of the peace talks. Those cognizant of ISI’s nature know that how back in 90s, this notorious agency supported one Mujahideen group and curtailed its support to another one so that it could successfully pit them against each other as Islamabad’s slogan at that moment was that Kabul must burn.

Now once again Pakistan has started the same old game. Brokering peace talks in one place (venue) while asking another Taliban group (in Doha) to reject the talks. Moreover, the government of Afghanistan must be careful about the hype of peace talks as the Taliban is a dead horse particularly after the emergence of Daesh, a dreaded terrorist group. The Taliban doesn’t have the spleen to stand before Daesh.

Many of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal belt have already defected to Daesh. In such a backdrop, talking to the Taliban is like flogging a dead horse. And when you have got to stop whipping a dead horse sometime, why not now, and think out of the box. Pakistan lost the opportunity when the ex-government repeatedly called on Pakistan to take the Taliban to table of negotiation and if it cannot then it must go after them militarily to destroy their safe hideouts on the soil of Pakistan.

It was such a moment when Deash was nowhere in the womb let alone an emerged threat with deadly potentials to erode frontiers in the Muslim world and capture cities after cities. And now that Daesh has unnerved the Taliban, how one should interpret the negotiations with them and that too at their conditions? The peace talks brokered by Pakistan, is a false spring for the people of Afghanistan and a dangerous gambling for the Afghan government.

Kabul must know why Pakistan rolled out its support when Islamabad held it back for the last 14 years? It is a must to know particularly before giving more privileges to Pakistan. Though Kabul recently already has given Islamabad too many privileges including an intelligence sharing deal, which is a cause of national shame.

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