Terrorism seems to be turning into a complex issue for the world in general and Afghanistan in particular. The aftershocks of terrorism have shaken Afghan society to a large extent and continue to do so even at the present time. The so-called “War against Terrorism” has not been able to reach to its conclusion as it has not been successful in eradication of terrorism from the country. The Taliban insurgents, who have been termed as ‘terrorists’ still enjoy strength in certain parts of the country and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are having a tough time in countering them.
When the war against terrorism had started the plan was to punish Taliban for sheltering Al-Qaeda, emancipate Afghanistan from their tyrant rule and strive for a democratic system for the Afghan nation. Somehow, Taliban were pushed out of the country or at least from the main cities. A democratic system was developed and there were great hopes that it would grow stronger with the passage of time and peace would prevail within the country. However, those hopes have not turned into reality – the democratic system is still facing some very serious challenges, and the security situation is deteriorating with each passing day. Taliban seem to have regained their strength and they have threatened the whole Afghan nation recently in some parts of the country. They have shown that they are capable of restoring their position.
The incident in Badakhshan, Takhar and Kunduz clearly show that they are strengthening their positions in the areas that were not their stronghold earlier.
Even in Balkh province, which is a comparatively peaceful province, the insurgents attacked Indian Consulate on Sunday night and carried out their fight for more then 24 hours.
The situation in the capital Kabul also seems to be getting serious in the last couple of days. Since the dawn of the new year, the security incidents seem to be on the rise. There was an attack on a restaurant near Taimani, which killed some civilians. And, yesterday, there were two attacks near Hamid Karzai International Airport, which also injured civilians.
Peace process with Taliban does not seem to be in a good shape. Recently, Afghan government agreed with Islamabad for a Pakistan supported peace talk with Taliban. As a part of the process, Pakistan will host a four nation meeting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China within a couple of weeks to pave the way for peace talks with the Taliban. The meeting will also focus on how to take the talks forward by creating the framework for the process.
This meeting will be of immense importance in deciding the future of talks with Taliban as it would be a major step after the talks in Murree, which was not concluded properly and was followed by a halt.
Pakistan, on most of the occasions, has announced its support for a stable Afghanistan, but public perception in Afghanistan disputes Pakistan’s commitments to bring the resurgent group to the peace table. The Islamabad meeting will, however, be the first of two. The second meeting will take place later in Kabul. No date has yet however been announced for this meeting.
The important factor in the talks would be the participation of US and China. Their influence and pressure would really be helpful in keeping the efforts of all the stakeholders on track. There are hopes that the meeting would open new doors for the peace process.
The important achievement for the Afghan government would be to make Taliban ready for a peace process and negotiate for a cease-fire. If Taliban get ready for a cease-fire it would mean that they are really ready for negotiations. No peace process can succeed unless the clashes stop and the parties in the war are ready to lay down their arms.
Another important factor for Afghanistan would be to convince Taliban to accept Afghan constitution, which seems a bit difficult as Taliban have always strived for a Shariah-based law in the country. It is really a Herculean task to make them ready to respect Afghan constitution and abandon their demand for a Shariah-based law as they are gaining strength on the battle-ground. They are even insisting on their own terms and conditions for the peace talks. However, for Afghan government, it would be a great loss if it compromises on its constitution which is result of years of struggle for a democratic system and for which the Afghan people and the soldiers have given large number of sacrifices.
Afghanistan, as a top priority, needs to reach to a conclusive position regarding terrorism, if it wants to continue its journey towards a democratic and peaceful state. President Ashraf Ghani has clearly indicated that he is serious about the issue and has always called for a regional and global cooperation to eradicate terrorism. Nonetheless, it is more important that Afghanistan must have its own strategy bold and clear regarding the issue and must follow the same through actions, not words alone.