Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Taliban Refusal to Talk to Afghan Government is a Botched Attempt and a Bitter Reminder of 1990s

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Taliban Refusal to Talk to Afghan Government is  a Botched Attempt and a Bitter Reminder of 1990s

Since the start of peace negotiations in late 2018 and the appointment of US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Mr. Zalmay Khalizad, many rounds of meetings have been held with interlocutors including US and Taliban representatives in different countries in the Middle East. In addition, another stream of talks has been hosted by the Government of Russian Federation whereby two rounds of meetings have so far been held. The purpose of all these meetings is to reach a negotiated settlement between Afghan Government and Afghan Taliban insurgents. It appears that schedule of these meetings have been disrupted by two major parties to the negotiation, firstly by Taliban insurgents who have demanded they do not want to talk to Afghan Government and that they only talk to US Government because they believe it was the US military that had toppled their regime after the fateful incident of 9/11 in 2001 which was planned and executed by Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden who was harbored and given refuge to, by Taliban regime during their rule in the country between 1995 and 2001. On the other side, Afghan Government questions validity of all and any peace talks and meetings with Taliban insurgents where they are not included and the agenda is not agreed upon by Afghan Government. This situation has stalled peace talks with Taliban insurgents with some grim repercussions in the shape of a large suicide attack targeting foreign nationals in a fortified guesthouse, hear Kabul international airport where four people were dead and more than hundred and twenty were injured. All of this is happening at a time when US Government leans hard on reaching a peace deal with Taliban insurgents more than any time during its intervention in Afghanistan since last almost two decades – based on urges arising from policy changes at home and campaign promises during elections in 2016.
This scenario is an exact repetition of the events that occurred during early1990s when the then Government of late Dr. Najeebullah, supported by the then USSR, was pleading for peace and reconciliation with Afghan Mujahedeen, who were supported by Pakistan, US and Iran. Dr. Najeeb’s Government did not want destruction of Afghan institutions and indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians so he repeatedly pleaded for peace. But peace plan, though supported by UN and United States, was disrupted by Pakistani Generals sitting in army headquarters in Rawalpindi whohad encouraged Mujahedeen not to enter into peace process with Dr. Najeeb’s Government. The motive behind not making peace with the then Afghan Government was to destroy all standing institutions of Afghan Government and to completely annihilate and invade Afghans and their country by Pakistani trained, supported and indoctrinated Afghan Mujahedeen groups. This is reminder of a bitter and grim reality for Afghans of those fateful events when peaceful settlement was not reached, after a long stalemate, Mujahedeen groups under different banners and organizational names, entered in Kabul and other Afghan cities and fought with each other for power, title and position for more than five years. During this senseless killing and destruction episode, hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians – including children and women – were killed, millions were migrated to Iran and Pakistan, economy of the country was destroyed and the country was plunged into a no-man’s land! People of Afghanistan foresee exactly the same scenario taking shape. US government is threatening to leave the country and is pushing for a hasty peace deal with an entrenched insurgency without sketching long-term plans and strategy of how to avoid repetition of the failure of 1990s peace plan. The then USSR was also trying to reach peace deal with Mujahedeen and wanted to leave the country.
Taliban insurgents demands to push for US forces to leave Afghanistan and refusing to talk to Afghan Government is exactly the same when Mujahedeen were refusing to enter into peace deal with Dr. Najeebullah’s Government and asking for the then USSR forces to leave the country. This idea is the brain child of ISI of Pakistan and is designed to once again plunge Afghanistan into a civil war, destruction and complete annihilation of its institutions. Taliban should know that hundreds of thousands of Afghans are standing guard to protect the progress made in areas of military advances, economic development, education and long-term development programs. Afghanistan is not going to repeat events of 1990s because such a scenario is not in the interest of any nation in the region and internationally, and that such doomed fate will not be allowed by both international and regional friendly countries of Afghanistan. Therefore, keeping in view the present realities and plenty of opportunities for a strong, prosperous and developed Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents should give it a re-think and join Afghan Government in its efforts to bring long-lasting peace and prosperity in the country.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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