Afghanistan: mutual trust indispensable for peace
July 27, 2012
Afghanistan is in a process of transition. The stakeholders in the country are actively engaged in transforming the situation to their advantage. The internal actors are in a serious contest to get hold of Kabul. Though, President Karzai and his political allies seem confident that they would continue governing Afghanistan in the aftermath of foreign troops’ withdrawal, the neutral security observers have been professing about the unleashing of anarchy in the country after the NATO/ISAF troops withdrawal in 2014.
Actually, President Karzai and his Western allies are convinced that Pakistan can broker a peace deal with Taliban. During the visit, Prime Minister of Pakistan reassured President Karzai that Islamabad sincerely supported the Afghan peace process and would constructively contribute towards establishing durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. He also accentuated Pakistan’s “determination to redouble efforts in facilitating direct intra-Afghan contacts and negotiations.”
Today, Taliban remain a major force in Afghanistan, despite a decade long US-led NATO/ISAF forces’ massive use of sophisticated weaponry against them. Whilst the American troops successfully ended Taliban government in Kabul, they have failed to eliminate their resilience and their writ in the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Consequently, for the last decade, the US-led NATO and ISAF forces have been fighting a protracted asymmetrical warfare in Afghanistan. Neither the coalition forces, nor the Karzai administration have writ in both southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan.
The major challenge for President Karzai and his foreign allies is Afghan Taliban. Ironically, without eradicating the power base of Taliban, the NATO/ISAF nations are yearning to pull out their troops from Afghanistan by 2014. Consequently, Americans are in a fix. They are equally interested in leaving Afghanistan, but are worried about the repercussions of civil war. Therefore, they have been in search of a practical solution, which entails smooth departure of coalition forces from Afghanistan.
The United States is expressing its long-term interest in Afghanistan. Washington and Kabul inked strategic partnership. Recently, it was reported that American troops will stay in Afghanistan until 2024. In addition, they have realized that without having a truce with Taliban, the peace in Afghanistan will be a wishful thinking. Therefore, they have been approaching Taliban to resolve the crisis through a dialogue process without giving an impression of weakness. President Karzai also has been endeavoring to engage Taliban. Nevertheless, he has failed in engaging them.
Presently, both Americans and President Karzai are in search of a facilitator, who can bring Taliban on the negotiating table. In this context, they are convinced that Pakistan is capable to play a decisive role. Nevertheless, they have been approaching Pakistan directly or indirectly to play a role of interlocutor. Ironically, at the same time, both have been expressing their mistrust on Pakistan.
Islamabad cannot afford anarchy as well as enmity with Kabul. Being a neighboring state, Pakistan needs sustainable cordial relations with politically and economically stable Afghanistan. It is equally convinced that without the cooperation of Afghan Taliban, establishing sustainable peace in the country is impossible. Indeed, it desires to play a constructive role in the polity of Afghanistan.
Importantly, in an ambiance of mistrust, however, even a positive proposal is interpreted pessimistically. In spite of various odd developments, Islamabad is expressing its commitment to play a constructive role in Afghanistan. During his recent visit to Kabul, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf reiterated Pakistan’s stance that it would support Afghan-led peace process in Afghanistan.
On July 19, 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf met in Kabul. They deliberated on the future of Afghanistan, especially after the withdrawal of coalition forces. They had expressed their strong commitment in the tripartite statement to work together to eliminate terrorism, which ‘poses the gravest threat to regional and international security’.
The insurgency in Afghanistan has dashed the hopes about the peaceful Afghanistan in the aftermath of foreign forces’ withdrawal. Despite it, the United States allies’ earnest desire is to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of troops without establishing a political stability would germinate anarchy in Afghanistan. The anarchical situation would be only in the advantage of al Qaeda-led terrorist syndicate.
The continuity of anarchy in Afghanistan is perilous for the neighboring states, especially Pakistan. The Afghan insurgency’s spillover has already severely destabilized the Federally Administrative Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Therefore, it has been in favor of dialogue process between Taliban and other stakeholders in Afghanistan to avoid the perilous chaos in the country.
Islamabad realizes that without establishing peace in Afghanistan, the eradication of the menace of terrorism in Pakistan is unattainable. Therefore, it has to eliminate al Qaeda-led terrorist syndicate’s sanctuaries located in Federally Administrative Tribal Areas. In this context, the Americans have been pressurizing Pakistan to launch a military operation in North Waziristan. It was reported that General John Allen, commander of ISAF in Afghanistan, stated on July 19, 2012 that if the Pakistan Army launched an operation in North Waziristan Agency, “we are prepared to pay extra attention” to any spill over that may occur because of the operation.
Importantly, the political solution is the only panacea for the Afghanistan problem. The prerequisite for the political solution is the dialogue process among the different factions in Afghanistan. Ignoring any Afghan group/faction in a dialogue process would be a flawed peace building initiative. Therefore, one cannot ignore Taliban’s deterministic role in the future of Afghanistan. The optimistic development is that even Americans have realized the significance of Taliban and are convinced that without their participation, peace or political stability in Afghanistan would be a wishful thinking.
On July 19, 2012, President Karzai had reiterated the urgency of political solution. He requested Prime Minster Ashraf that Pakistan should facilitate in engaging Taliban in the Afghanistan peace-building process. Actually, President Karzai and his Western allies are convinced that Pakistan can broker a peace deal with Taliban. During the visit, Prime Minister of Pakistan reassured President Karzai that Islamabad sincerely supported the Afghan peace process and would constructively contribute towards establishing durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. He also accentuated Pakistan’s “determination to redouble efforts in facilitating direct intra-Afghan contacts and negotiations.”
The political process is imperative for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. The prerequisite for such a process is mutual trust among the stakeholders.