Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, September 21st, 2020

Why Afghanistan Needs to B Plan in Intra- Afghan Peace Talks?

Although all preparations have been taken for intra-Afghan peace talks, there is little optimism to reach a sustainable peace in the country. Undoubtedly, the main objective of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is reaching to national sovereignty, national unity, fair power sharing with Taliban and overall a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan. But after many years of conflicts and suffering and foreign interferences, it is a goal that can’t come soon enough. According to the unilateral US-Taliban peace agreement, the people and government of Afghanistan have released more than 5000 Taliban prisoners to show the length of its commitment and flexibility to peaceful coexistence while the Taliban have made no comparable concessions.
The Taliban’s dogmatic position shows that their political intention is capturing sate power in Afghanistan, not reaching a win-win solution to end the conflicts in the country. Because of the regular patronage they receive from their regional supporters, especially Pakistan,  they seem overconfident and so their common end goal is in direct contrast to Kabul’s objectives. This kinship is unsurprising, given Pakistan’s desire for Islamist rather than nationalist rule to consolidate its influence over Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s aim to impose a puritanical Islamic state to outlaw all other forms of ideological or political competition. Given the political distance between Taliban and government of Afghanistan, Afghanistan desperately needs to a Plan B, a strategy to protect the fragile democracy which the country has built over the last two decades with thousands of victims and billions of expenses. Otherwise, a regression to the dark days of the past is practically inevitable.
No one doubts that the Taliban remain reliant on Pakistan for their existence, while Islamabad maintains its commitment to establishing a client state – a weak and pliant government of its choice that it can control.  the Taliban are not likely to join the Afghan government and agree to disband because their logic is in their military power guaranteeing its political survival. For the Taliban to fit in with the vision of a “united, democratic Afghanistan” would require a fundamental reorientation of the movement, and a complete jettisoning of their malign character, together with a seismic shift in Pakistan’s treatment of Afghanistan as a client state. So, in this step, the US-Taliban peace deal seems like a bridge that will help the Taliban lay siege to the Afghan government, with the aim of precipitating its collapse. This sense of siege is already being felt in Kabul and given the Taliban a free hand to launch successive attacks with impunity.
The Taliban leaders, sometimes, talk about “pure Islamic government” but has never explained what “pure” means. What we do know is that they have consistently and violently opposed elections to deter voters and to undermine the Afghan government. During the election in Afghanistan, Although some of the voters were not happy of the current social and political orders, they stressed it was an act of “defiance” against the Taliban, showing that Afghans prefer any government other than emirate . Once the owner of pen never forget a surprising event when Taliban had cut the finger of an Afghan citizen because of using his vote, but he said that he would never desist voting even if lose all his fingers. However, the electoral democracy is fundamentally at odds with the Taliban’s vision of an Islamic Emirate or state, further underlining the incompatibility of their value system with Afghan society.
Hence, It seems a fantasy to think the Taliban have changed their ways and dream of emirate, despite being out of power for almost 20 years. Not a single Taliban statement or expression indicates change. Reports of the Taliban’s brutality are plenty, including when their fighters overran the northern city of Kunduz in October 2016, committing extrajudicial killings, gang rapes, torture, looting and house-to-house searches by death squads. Such practices are common in areas under Taliban control or influence, and their claims of holding members of their ranks to account for abuses are fictitious, because Taliban officials do not consider such acts unlawful. The Taliban’s interpretation and application of Sharia law provides them with a permanent cover to violate human rights and still justify them, no matter their brutality. Overall, the memory of the Taliban’s brutality against ordinary Afghans since 2001 and beyond elicits a mix of a “never again” sentiment with a fear of revenge if they return as victors.
The opposing strategic and security goals of the Afghan government and the Taliban shows no space for genuine talks with the current format in talks. In the short to medium term, intra-Afghan talks may begin, but not for bringing peace. From the Taliban’s perspective, the purpose of these talks is to facilitate a US exit from Afghanistan in a way that will present them the opportunity to push for total power. If the US exits and removes its political, military and financial support, Afghanistan will remain, but its 40-year war will continue until the Taliban have taken over completely or have been defeated. The  breakdown of the state could result in a protracted civil war that would nullify all the gains of the past two decades, which cost tens of thousands of national military and civilian lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to achieve.