Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Taliban must be Pressurized for Negotiations

There are serious concerns regarding the prospects of peace in Afghanistan. Insecurity is on the rise with many other social and political issues and there are no clear indications regarding any peace negotiations with Taliban and other militants. There are no clear indications even about what is the strategy of Afghan authorities regarding the future of talks with Taliban. Afghan people and the international community and organizations are really worried in this situation and they show their concerns in different ways.
On Monday December 19, Gerard van Bohmen, Chief of the UN sanctions committee briefed the UN Security Council on the Afghan peace process, and suggested the 15-member body ensure the complete implementation of sanctions against the Taliban within the legal framework that exists. Bohmen suggested that the UN sanctions committee and Afghanistan’s Central Bank jointly work to terminate the Taliban’s access to their financial resources and that countries implement travel sanctions against the group’s leaders.  
Briefing the UNSC members, meanwhile, Afghanistan’s permanent representative to the UN Mahmoud Saikal also urged the world body to include the names of Taliban leaders on its blacklist - as they continue to avoid joining purposeful peace negotiations with the Afghan government. “Any type of outside contact with the Taliban, or other such groups, without the prior knowledge and approval of the Afghan government, was seen as a legitimization of terror, a direct breach of sovereignty, and a clear contravention of the sanctions regimes. Effectively enforcing existing resolutions, including the sanctions regimes, could have a significant impact. The timely inclusion of select irreconcilable Taliban leaders in the sanctions list and more meaningful interaction between counter-terrorism bodies and Afghan security agencies is essential,” said Saikal in his remarks to the UNSC members.
The tactic of exerting pressure on Taliban leadership in the form of sanctions is an effective option and must be followed in a proper manner so that Taliban leaders must get ready for meaningful talks. Taliban have been avoiding talks so that they are able to keep on pressurizing Afghan government through promoting insecurity in different parts of the country.
They will keep on doing so unless, there is true pressure upon them to change their attitude. Afghan government must enter the peace negotiations from a point of strength and that is only possible when there are pressures on Taliban in different ways. Taliban must start believing that they have no other option except coming to the negotiation tables for peace talks.
It is also imperative that any sort of peace talks with Taliban must be led by Afghan government and Afghan representatives, so that Afghan people are able to own the process and they should also be able to see that their concerns are actually met during the process. Isolated peace negotiations with Taliban without the involvement of true representatives of different factions of Afghan society would ultimately face failure.
For Afghanistan the peace talks are of great importance. 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. Nevertheless, the important factor is that Afghan government should be able to have a comprehensive strategy regarding how to proceed in talks with Taliban, especially when Taliban are not in the mood to talk with the Afghan government.
In the times to come, Afghanistan would be faced with myriads of security challenges. Already the security incidents have become the order of the day. Every day there are tragic news from different parts of the country regarding bombings and ruthless killings. The prospects of peace and tranquility are becoming darker with each passing day. Coupled with that is the fact that the promises of negotiations and reconciliation do not seem to be turning into tangible steps and within such a scenario Afghan civilians are the ones who are suffering the most.
Neither there are steps being taken for paving the way to development that could guarantee providence of basic requirements to the people; nor are there arrangements to guarantee their security. Government authorities mostly blame insecurity as a hurdle towards development and claim that most of their energies and funds are utilized to provide security to the people; therefore, the attentions cannot be focused on other areas. However, the facts and figures show a different picture – the security sector remains unattended as well and insecurity is rampant throughout the country.
Afghan government, as a top priority, needs to reach to a conclusive position and peaceful solution to the issue of insecurity and terrorism, if it wants to continue its journey towards a democratic and peaceful state. President Ashraf Ghani has indicated on various occasions 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 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.