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The stumbling peace process

Mullah Omar’s death reports implicated the peace negotiations. Now almost all of those who had been part of negotiations agree that stalled peace talks are making it more troublesome to figure out a peaceful solution to the Afghan conundrum. When the government looks floundered and the Taliban are hell-bent on sabotage and terrorism, the statement of Speaker of the Senate, Fazl-e-Hadi Muslimyar, is surprising yet at the same time a right standpoint.

He says the government must resume peace negotiations with the Taliban but from the position of strength. He says the government must grab such a position and influence that could compel the Taliban to come to the table of peace talks. Here Muslimyar looked to be an idealist. In current situation the government is never in such a position to compel the Taliban on coming to peace negotiations. Even though, peace talks are stalled, yet there is a stronger optimism in the general public, government officials and peace interlocutors that peace talks could be reached.

And this confidence will surely affect the peace talks in a positive manner. The irony is that when the people are confident about the peace talks, the peace body—High Peace Council has come under severe criticism for being passive and inefficient. The criticism looks quite fair as by this day the High Peace Council cannot boast for a major breakthrough except arranging some seminars and sending peace envoys to peace talks held in the past, yet despite that the office bearers get huge salaries besides other side-benefits. If the government really wants the confidence of the people and the government officials must remain intact and the peace talks must be productive, there must be reforms in High Peace Council (HPC). As winter season is coming closer there will be a sharp decline in the terror attacks of the Taliban, therefore, the government can successfully exploit the lull time for peace talks.

The death reports of Mullah Omar were a kick in the teeth, yet the government could have exploited the divisions among the Taliban ranks, however, HPC couldn’t exploit the weakness of the Taliban. Moreover, the insurgents demonstrated their terror-capacity so that they could wash away the impression that Taliban are embroiled in an internal war and power struggle. If the government could have realized the ground realities, it would have kicked the ballistics and changed its policy, but alas, nothing changed but status quo prolonged and even a defense minister couldn’t be introduced. If the government wants to talk to the Taliban from the position of strength it will have to show its military might. And it will only be possible if there is a defense minister in the office and there is no bickering between the two leaders of the National Unity Government. Moreover, the government has allowed others to use the levers of peace talks. When the issue is between the government and the Taliban why a third force must be allowed to use this lever?

When it comes to peace talks, we must not forget what the Deputy spokesman of the presidential office, Sayed Zafar Hashemi said that their neighboring country first must dismantle terror networks then they can resume talks with the Taliban. This is a powerful standpoint and this stance will make the government in a better position to speak to the Taliban. Any other way and option is tantamount to surrender.

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