Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 22nd, 2018

No More Ambiguities

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No More Ambiguities

The concerns regarding the future of the peace process and transition period in Afghanistan have been increasing with each passing day. There are expectations that there will be some sort of reconciliation between the government and Taliban, which would pave the way for better socio-political conditions in the country; and that the Afghan security forces and Afghan government would be able to shoulder the responsibilities of governance and the security arrangements in the country after the withdrawal of the US and other foreign troops.

But, these all expectations fail to generate any vivid vista, and are rather marked with evident uncertainty. The reconciliation process with Taliban is yet to bear fruits even after the exaggerated claims of the government and the High Peace Council. The Afghan government is yet to learn a lot as far as appropriate governance and political institutionalization are concerned.

The democratic values are yet to be nurtured to a great extent. The President office has failed to deal with the parliament appropriately and the conflicts and clashes are dominating the relations and interactions of the organs of the state, which must, for better development of the country function in proper co-operation and co-ordination with one another.

Moreover, the Security concerns are also real and have to be pondered upon with serious considerations. The incapacity of Afghan forces to deal with the security risks is as clear as crystal and at this critical juncture they can not be expected to shoulder the responsibility of the entire security arrangement of the country.

With all the mentioned circumstances, there are two very important issues that can play a vital role in deciding the nature of Afghan socio-political and socio-economic structure in the times to come. The first one is the Bonn II Conference and the presence of US troops in Afghanistan or the process of their withdrawal if they really get serious to withdraw comprehensively.

Bonn II Conference, that is going to be held in December this year in Germany, is expected to play a vital role for the future of Afghanistan and the prevailing circumstances. There are two basic expectations from the conference. The first one is regarding the intentions and guarantee of the international community for the support of Afghan economy and infra-structure development after the announced withdrawal.

International community has already announced in International Contact Group for Afghanistan meeting that they would not leave Afghanistan alone even after the withdrawal of international troops but the approaching Bonn Conference is expected to chalk out more specifications in this regard. It may also define the assistance of international community regarding the support for the training and development of Afghan security forces for guaranteeing peaceful order in the country.

The second expectation, which in these days seem more important and much debated, is the participation of Taliban and any sort of reconciliation that may be reached with them. The participation of Taliban as separate delegation has been rejected altogether by Afghan government and US officials, but it does not remain out of consideration. The current claims of the Afghan government and US government regarding the rejection of separate Taliban delegation may be to show the high hand of Afghan government and US troops and to further pressurize the Taliban to adopt reconciliatory attitude, which they have been rejecting to do, so far.

There are certain complications at the moment regarding the participation of Taliban in Bonn II conference. Definitely, Taliban have to be involved in the reconciliation process, if lasting peace is to be determined for the country.

Let's say that Taliban are not to have a separate delegation in the conference, what are the alternatives? What about the development of High Peace Council regarding negotiations with Taliban? Can it reach to a certain agreement with Taliban prior to the conference and will Taliban, relying on the same agreement, join Afghan government delegation in the conference? Suppose Taliban join the Afghan delegation, will they speak for themselves or Afghan government, or will they even get a chance of speaking independently from the same forum? These are the questions which at the moment do not have clear answers and further complicate the issue of the participation of Taliban in the conference and the future of reconciliation process.

There is a gulf of discrepancy between Afghan government notion and the Taliban's stand. There are discrepancies even in different factions of Taliban themselves. How can these discrepancies be solved still remain a mystery and further make the intelligent minds doubt the expectation of the conference.

There are miracles to be achieved by the High Peace Council and Afghan government to make Taliban a part of Afghan delegation. If they ever succeed in doing so, the members they would be taking with themselves as Taliban would not be the real representatives of Taliban that are at the moment active in terrorist activities against the government and foreign forces in different parts of the country.

The second issue regarding the prospect of peace, tranquility and development in Afghan socio-political and socio-economic scenario is the duration of US involvement and presence of US troops in Afghanistan and the nature of the process of withdrawal, if there is comprehensive withdrawal till the end of 2014 as per the decision of US President Obama. The rumors have it that thousand of US troops may remain in Afghanistan after 2014; even till 2025.

There are prospects of an agreement that may take place between the Afghan and US governments till the end of this year. This, if true, will prove to be a mixed blessing. If it can help Afghanistan in establishing strong security arrangements against the terrorists and give them more time for the transition, on the other hand, other regional powers will be certainly displeased as a result of this agreement.

This will further let them withhold their sympathetic approach towards Afghanistan and try to counter the presence of US troops in their immediate neighborhood, which may result in the extension of insecurity in the region.

On the other hand if US seriously withdraws, which seem less likely at the moment, all its forces till the end of 2014, still the arrangements of peace and tranquility in the region remain a serious question as Afghan forces and government are not in perfect position to take on the responsibilities of security and governance suitably.

The contemporary scenario in Afghanistan can not afford to have uncertainties regarding the future course of action. There have to be vivid answers to all the questions mentioned in the article for outcome of the Bonn II Conference and the future of the country at the end of transition process. Otherwise, years will pass away and the country would still be standing in ruins and conflicts.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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