Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The Fourth QCG Meeting

The fourth meeting of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) took place in Kabul yesterday. The group consists of Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China and it was formed to prepare for the direct talks between Taliban and Afghan government. Three earlier meetings that took place in Islamabad and Kabul had already made some improvements in the process and the basic roadmap to the direct talks was almost completed in the fourth meeting.
For Afghanistan this peace talks seem to be really imperative. If there is any lasting peace in the country, it will only be possible through negotiations with Taliban; there is no other option. Especially fighting is no more an option as it has already led to myriads of killings and destruction. However, the important factor is that Afghan government should be able to have a comprehensive strategy regarding how to proceed in talks with Taliban.
Afghanistan earlier pursued the efforts for reconciliation process with Taliban through High Peace Council (HPC); however, the Council was not able to acquire the desired results. There were many occasions when the Council was betrayed by Taliban and on certain other occasions their members were targeted by insurgents. Thus, presently, the Council seems to have lost its true role and position and even it does not get much funding. Nevertheless, there are efforts being made to reform the Council – change its key position holders and bring about certain changes in the way it functions.
In this regard, President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah introduced the new High Peace Council leader Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani on Wednesday February 23, 2016 and President Ghani in his address said that the HPC would from now on work independently. He also said that no one should doubt government’s resolve to secure national interests and that no one should doubt the National Unity Government’s commitment to the peace process. HPC would meet soon to set out a priority framework and that government will take action accordingly.
It is really vital that HPC should be able to bring about important changes in its structure and its functions; however, it is also vital that it should be true representative of all the Afghans. All the stakeholders must be given voice in the Council and they should be heard properly. All the ethnicities must be given representations and at the same time women should also be given enough representation in the Council. Peace can only be achieved if the participating representatives from both the sides truly and entirely represent their people.
Afghanistan should take advantage of the change in the scenario, and must strive to pursue its main objectives. 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. In addition as Afghanistan has spring and summer seasons ahead there are possibilities of rise in insurgency by Taliban. Therefore, a cease-fire before that would be a great achievement and would be great news for the common masses as they have been suffering from the offensive to a large extent.
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.
It is also important that the voices of important figures, who represent different political or religious groups, should be heard. Former Jihadi figure Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf has said that Afghan Mujahideen support any attempt which can broker sustainable peace and bring an end to ongoing violence, but has urged that Afghanistan’s political geography should not be undermined at any cost in the process. Nevertheless, there should be consideration that the voices must not undermine Afghanistan’s national interests.
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 had 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, as there is no more time for words.