Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Emerging Light at the End of the Tunnel for Peace Talks

With the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, both countries seek to break the stalemate of peace process and nudge the Taliban fighters to come to negotiating table. Negotiation for ending the protracted war is the top priority for Kabul government and its international allies, including the United States.
Peace process has been a highly rocky road with many ups and downs for Afghan government since the Taliban fighters’ adopted precarious attitudes towards the Kabul’s proposal for negotiation with the change of their leadership. Nonetheless, the Taliban’s current leader Mullah Haibatullah has constantly been holding out against the truce and intensified attacks against Kabul government. That is, he does not seem to consider negotiation as a second option for resolving the conflict, which inflicted heavy casualties upon civilians in the country.
It is self-explanatory that terrorism is a regional threat. The terrorist attack on Baluchistan Awami Party in Mastung district – which marked the deadliest terror attack in Pakistan since the attacks on Army Public School Peshawar in 2014 and killed 153 people – and the yesterday’s deadly attack outside a polling station in Quetta, which also killed and wounded more than 60 people, indicate that terrorism poses a highly serious threat to the region. Both the attacks were claimed by the IS group.
Addressing the “Seventh World Peace Forum” in Beijing on July 14, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that “terrorism knows no border”. He also urged the world must end political tension and tackle their issues through “dialogue” and “diplomacy” which, he claimed, are a peaceful solution to regional peace and stability. Aziz said, “Confrontation between the current powers will be disastrous for world peace, security and prosperity”. He added, “It is in the interest of every country to have prosperous, stable neighbors and secure borders”.
He also warned the world of the threat posed by the IS group to the regional stability. According to him, although the IS group had lost ground in Iraq and Syria, its ideology still rules there.
In fact, currently there are two big threats to the regional peace and stability: political rivalries and terrorism. To ensure regional stability, the world powers will have to stop cold war and blame game. The recent escalated cold war among world powers, mainly Iran and the US, will further destabilize the region and increase the level of mistrust and hostility. Second, although Afghanistan and Pakistan are highly vulnerable to violence, it is understandable that terrorism is a threat to the entire world.
After all, the vulnerability of a single state or nation has to be a matter of concern for the world since we live in the global village. It is believed that the world will not be immune from the spillover of the ongoing regional stability and terrorist attacks.
Afghan former President Hamid Karzai also pointed out at the Peace Forum that “Pakistan’s people” suffered severely as a result of terrorism the same as Afghan people did and terrorism is the common enemy of Afghan-Pak nations.  
Afghanistan has changed into a sacrificial lamb and Afghan soldiers and civilians’ blood is spilt on day-to-day basis. That is to say, Taliban’s current leader seeks to continue the hit-and-run policy turning back to Kabul’s olive branch. But it is widely believed if Islamabad uses its leverage with bona fide intention, the Taliban’s leader will be persuaded to come to peace table.
Despite the escalated militancy, a gleam of hope for talks emerged for Kabul government for three reasons: First, Islamabad’s current determination for bringing the Taliban to the table as the inaugural meetings of the five Working Groups were held on Sunday to strengthen counter-terrorism, peace and reconciliation. Second, Saudi Arabia’s support for peace and the joint efforts of Afghan and Saudi religious scholars for campaigning against terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in the country. This campaign is more likely to mitigate the violence in Afghanistan. Third, the Taliban’s positive reaction to the ceasefire announced by Kabul government during the Eid holidays has made officials believe they are not reluctant to peace talks.
It is believed that these three reasons are reasonable and the continuation of the joint efforts of Islamic scholars and officials will undermine the militants ideologically and militarily. Both religious scholars and officials will have to continue their efforts with strong determination and genuine intention to put an end to the ongoing conflicts. Based on the popular belief, Islamabad and Riyadh are able to push the Taliban to the peace table and their pressure on the Taliban will bear the desired result. It is hoped Islamic countries and Afghanistan’s western allies will bring in peace and stability in the country through peaceful means.