Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

The Complication of Peace Process


The Complication of Peace Process

Ten people were reportedly killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on Wednesday. The suicide bomber struck a vehicle carrying court employees in the morning rush hour in western part of the city which killed ten, including court workers and civilians, and wounded 11 others. The attack comes as the Taliban named a new leader following Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death in a US drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday. This reveals the fact that the Taliban outfits will continue their Operation Omari despite the peace declaration from Afghan government.
The Taliban elements have appointed Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, a former head of the Taliban’s judiciary and one of two Mansour’s deputies, as its new leader at a meeting. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of Haqqani network, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, are said to serve as deputies. Akhundzada is a radical scholar known for issuing public statements justifying the existence of the militant Taliban, their war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. His views are regarded as hawkish, and he could be expected to continue in the aggressive footsteps of Mansour.
According to official US statements, Mullah Mansour was targeted on Saturday afternoon on the main RCD Highway, which connects Pakistan with Iran; despite this confirmation, Pakistan’s Foreign Office remained silent for almost 24 hours. Predictably, Pakistan has said that the United States had crossed the “red line” and claimed the attack was a violation of its sovereignty.
However, most intriguing are reports that Mansour entered Pakistan from the Islamic republic of Iran before being killed in a US drone strike. Pakistani identity documents found on the body of the man now known to be Mansour named him as Muhammad Wali, and showed he had left for Iran on March 28 and returned the day he was killed – this was denied by Iran.
In March Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had admitted that the Taliban leadership lived in Quetta, and that Pakistan was using this as a leverage to persuade them to engage with Kabul.
Islamabad is upset with Mansour’s killing because there seems to be an understanding among Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US that a framework would be evolved for the use of force against the Taliban if they refused to join the peace process. “That stage has not arrived yet but the US went for solo flight,” a Pakistani official is quoted as saying referring to the latest meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) in which all sides decided to give peace a chance.
However, recently there were reports that differences emerged in the QCG as it was divided into two groups. While the US and Afghanistan pushed for the use of military force against the Taliban, Pakistan and China insisted on giving peace a chance.
Pakistan now feels this was the second time efforts to broker a peace deal were undermined because of untimely action by the US. Previously, it was the news of death of Mullah Omar that led to the collapse of a second round of direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives.
Mansour’s death was a serious blow to the Taliban – who are still reeling from the death of its founder Mullah Muhammad Omar. He had just consolidated his authority over the Taliban’s faction since his appointment. Refusing to come to negotiating table, Mansour staged heavy attacks against the Afghan government which increased the graph of police and civilian mortality within last year.
The US and Afghan governments said Mansour had been an obstacle to a peace process that had ground to a halt when he refused to participate in peace talks earlier this year. Instead, he intensified the war in Afghanistan. Therefore, I believe that there was no solution for the US other than taking military action.
The appointment of Haibatullah Akhundzada will not open a new page in peace process since he is no less radical than Mansour. It is believed that if Akhundzada continues relentless operations against Afghan government and the US forces, despite the struggles made by the QCG to bring them to peace table, he will be doomed to Mansour’s fate. In other words, the US officials sought to put pressure on the Taliban through killing Mansour and pointed out that they will pursue operation against the Taliban’s sanctuary. Hence, if the Taliban elements do not show flexibility regarding peace talks, the military deal will be the last resort – which also seems appropriate.
The escalation in civilian casualties from insurgent attacks in Afghanistan brought the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan to new lows. Islamabad has long argued that the only way to end the war in Afghanistan is to bring the Taliban into the mainstream. But the question is that what if they continue their militancy despite the struggles made for talks? It should be noted that Afghanistan left no stone unturned to bring the Taliban to peace table within more than a decade, but all the efforts and energy were in vain and insurgency continued unabated which inflicted heavy casualties upon our nation. How long should Afghan people suffer from violence and bloodshed? In such a case, military action will be the only effective mechanism to be adopted.

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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