Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Lack of Political Consensus Hampers Peace and Prosperity

Since a series of talks, held between the US and Taliban representatives, did not mitigate insurgency, Afghans appear to hold out not much hope about a positive outcome. Despite the escalated militancy, Afghan officials say that the Taliban have been weakened and continue their hit-and-run policy and target civilians rather than resisting a direct fight.
In the meantime, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that peace will emerge in Afghanistan calling for inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue. “After years of war and turmoil in Afghanistan, peace has eventually become possible,” he said on his trip to Tajikistan. Wang urged all parties in Afghanistan to reach extensive political consensus through inclusive dialogue and facilitate the “Afghan-led, Afghan owned” peace process.
He added, “We hope the negotiation between the United States and the Taliban can lead to a deal that is conducive to the process, and hope other multilateral mechanisms on the issue of Afghanistan can play positive roles for the process as well”.
It comes as Alexander Bortnikov, chief of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, has warned about the active presence of “Khorasan province”, affiliates to the self-styled Islamic State of Iran and the Levant (ISIL), in Afghanistan. He claimed that an ISIL offshoot had amassed around 5,000 militants in northern Afghanistan on the border of post-Soviet Republics of Central Asia.
Last month, he also warned of ISIL militants returning to their countries of origin and creating terrorist cells at home. More than 1,500 or 5,000 jihadists from Europe who earlier joined ISIL managed to return form the Middle East, Bortnikov is cited as saying.
However, a number of political pundits say Moscow is exaggerating the number of extremists to justify its outreach to the Taliban.
Russia hosted two rounds of talks between the Taliban and Afghan political parties, which Afghans say led to the Taliban’ credibility and their international recognition rather than peace and prosperity and the Kabul government criticized Moscow for hosting futile and symbolic talks.
The presence of the Islamic State of Khorasan in Afghanistan is undeniable as it carried out deadly attacks since its emergence in the country. But the number of IS fighters in Afghanistan remains unknown. Afghan government should never underestimate the level of threat posed by any militant groups, including the Khorasan province.
In terms of peace talks with the Taliban, neither the US could persuade the Taliban to hold direct talks with the Kabul government nor have Afghan political factions supported the government. With the growing gap between the political parties and the government, heads of political factions, including Afghan former President Hamid Karzai, participated in Moscow talks despite the government’s marginalization at the table.
It is believed that political parties have played destructive role in the country both in the pre-Taliban and post-Taliban Afghanistan. They triggered civil unrest for their political interests rather than national interests and led the country to destruction. As a result, a large number of civilians were killed and wounded and infrastructures were destroyed. 
Currently, political parties and heavyweights also continue their negative role in the country. They capitalize on public sentiment under the term of national interests. For example, some political heavyweights are calling for the establishment of “interim government” since presidential election has been delayed.
Based on Article 61 of Afghan Constitution, “The presidential term shall expire on 1st of Jawza of the 5th year after elections. Elections for the new President shall be held within 30 to 60 days prior to the end of the presidential term”. Now although the legal period of President Ghani has been ended, the second precondition, holding election 30 to 60 days before the end of the presidential term, has not been fulfilled. Thus, the president is legally allowed to continue his term till the presidential election is conducted. Thus, the protest of political parties against the government to step down is not supported legally.
It is believed that if political parties supported the government in all cases, mainly in peace process, insurgency would be mitigated so far. They could also put pressure on the Taliban to hold direct talks with the government.
The Taliban are aware of the growing rift between the government and political parties and seek to capitalize on this issue. Therefore, they bargain for higher price at the table with their US interlocutors and refuse to hold talks with the government.
To support both peace process and national interests, political parties and heavyweights have to back the government and try to reach extensive political consensus to break the stalemate of peace talks between the Taliban and the government so that they could take practical steps towards peace and prosperity in the country.