Afghanistan and Pakistan, after a period of stalemate, have once again agreed to promote the Afghan-led peace process with Taliban. In an important meeting, on Monday November 30, 2015 in Paris, President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met each other on the periphery of the UN-sponsored Climate Change Summit and resolved to act together again for peace building measures.
After the first face-to-face meeting between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Murree, organized by Pakistan back in July, there have not been any other improvement in the talks; contrarily, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan deteriorated after it was disclosed that Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Omar was dead a couple of years ago. President Ashraf Ghani who had been favoring a peace deal with Taliban sponsored by Pakistan, was deeply infuriated and he blamed that the Pakistani authorities were not doing enough regarding the peace deal.
Now that both the countries have once again agreed to work together, it is important to see how they proceed. Pakistan Prime Minister reiterated support for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace drive, saying Pakistan remained committed to building a stable Afghanistan, which was in the best interest of the entire region. With regard to the ongoing military offensive against terrorism in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near the Afghanistan border, Sharif made clear that Operation Zarb-i-Azb targeted militants of all stripes, including those against the neighboring country.
However, it is pertinent to mention that Afghan leadership has always seen the commitments from the Pakistani authorities with suspicion. There have been several occasions when both the countries have come close to each other only to part with differences later on. There have to be honest and real efforts to see the dreams of peace and tranquility come true in the region.
Afghan government requires designing a comprehensive strategy regarding the peace talks with Taliban, as Afghanistan is the country that has been largely the victim. Planned and prudent actions regarding the peace efforts can support the country to come out of the quagmire of terrorism and disorder.
Afghan government has, on several instances, mentioned that the peace talks with Taliban will be based on the conditions that they accept Afghan constitution, lay down arms and respect human rights, particularly women rights; nonetheless, Taliban have never given the indication that they are ready to accept these conditions.
They, on the other hand, have given their own conditions for the peace talks; the first and foremost being the withdrawal of all the US forces from Afghanistan. However, for Afghan government it is really imperative that they make Taliban ready to accept these conditions before peace talks. Apart from Taliban, there are many factions and individuals, even in Afghan government, who believe that there must not be any precondition to peace talks as setting conditions hamper the efforts to start negotiations.
Though, peace negotiation is urgently required and there must be sincere efforts to make them successful, but following it without right conditions may prove to be fruitless for Afghanistan. Afghan constitution must always be safeguarded and there must not be any compromise in this regard. Moreover, the achievements, though not very comprehensive, regarding human rights and the rights of women must never be compromised, as well. Peace at the sake of these conditions would mean a loss, not a true peace.
It is correct that the prospects of peace and tranquility do not seem very much clear; yet, there are possibilities to start afresh from this point and reach to a somewhat reputable position in the times to come and save the nation from another age of instability and misery. There is no doubt that for its journey to stability Afghanistan would require a great deal of assistance from the regional countries and Western allies. However, the most dominant role has to be played by Afghanistan itself. Afghan authorities in contribution with Afghan people can really change the destiny and can guarantee a promising future for the generations to come; all it needs to do is to focus on certain considerations.
Sincerity and the consideration for national interest, in this regard, must be pursued with full zeal and enthusiasm. The influential individuals and factions must stand with Afghan government and support a democratic political system. They must not side with Taliban and support their type of Shariah-based system, which will lead to instability and disorder, once again.
The peace process depends largely on how Afghan authorities will deal with the circumstances ahead. At this crucial juncture when the Western allies do not have many options but to leave the country and the regional countries are very much interested in pursuing their own interests, the Afghan government does not have any other option but to be more responsible and deal with the situation on its own.
Currently there are many concerns about the Afghan government; addressing them is in its total control if other things are out of it. Afghan government can listen to the different voices in the country that are peace-loving and want a better future for Afghanistan in the form of better political system, not to the ones that are determined to take Afghanistan towards extremism and terrorism.