The Approach of Involved Parties in Peace Issue:
(1) The United States’ Approach
It is evident that the US prefers its own interests not Afghanistan’s political system and its citizen’s destiny as President Trump stated last year that neither the kind of Afghanistan’s political system nor defending democracy was Washington’s responsibility. On the other hand, Trump’s team interests necessitate him to accept risks in the process of peace while making deal with the Taliban. That is, it is essential for Trump to gain an achievement, which is necessary to sell in the US presidential campaign. Therefore, he is likely to be trapped in strategic errors, similar to the past. Moreover, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s tendency to be credited as a peace hero outweighs the public concerns in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, there is a probability, for two reasons, that the cycle of Khalilzad’s peace machine turns for the Taliban’s interests to the detrimental of the republic system in Afghanistan. For the one, the concern of the US civil society regarding Afghanistan’s achievements within the past two decades and their siding with the Afghan state and nation. Second and more significant is security concerns of many Pentagon’s generals and CIA’s veteran authorities in terms of probable threat from the Taliban side and their re-empowerment as well as conditions conducive to terrorist networks in the country, which would generate serious threat to the US’ security and interests.
(2) Taliban’s Approach:
It is indicated that the Taliban’s ideology has undergone no changes. The Taliban view the kind of political system, citizens’ rights, and women’s rights and status with fundamental, dogmatic, and parochial mindset. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban and head of their political office in Qatar, reiterated in his latest interview with PBS that no changes have been brought to the Taliban’s mindset since 2001, and they will accept women’s rights to the extent recognized by Islam (based on the Taliban’s narrative, though).
With this in mind, the Taliban do not simply seek to integrate into the system as a group via the ongoing peace talks but nurture the strategy of restoring the “Islamic Emirate” and, after the US and NATO troop pullout, establish their emirate.
(3) Pakistan and ISI’s Approach:
With the US-Taliban peace agreement, Pakistan hopes to witness the establishment of its influenced administration in Afghanistan through the re-emergence of the Taliban in the frame of Islamic Emirate or through the Taliban’s active participation in the country’s future political system. Pakistan considers two scenarios for the future of Afghanistan: First, to establish its influenced administration via the Taliban’s access to power to be subdued to ISI and get access not only to Afghanistan’s policy but also to its waters, mines, and resources, and also assuage their concern about Durand Line. In this scenario, Mullah Haibatullah is most likely to be a passive figure and ISI would be the main actor and one of the ISI’s director would be the main ruler behind the smokescreen. During Mullah Omar’s leadership, Colonel Shahid Reza was the M1 director of ISI’s al-Qaeda section and Omar would endorse whatever decided by Reza. Having no rule in decision-making, Omar was also subdued to him concerning the hiring and firing of Emirate’s actors.
Pakistan’s second likely scenario, if the first one fails, would be to trigger civil unrest in Afghanistan, which was followed after the collapse of Dr. Najibullah’s rule and Mujahidin’s victory. In the meantime, General Zia-ul-Haq told their forces, who accompanied Mujahidin, Kabul had to be burnt. Afghanistan’s boiling pot should not be stopped and the thermometer should be in the hand of Pakistan. He strongly emphasized that all infrastructures in Afghanistan had to be destroyed and all telecommunications and logistic lines had to be disconnected in Kabul, which had to be under pressure. Zia’s highest ambition was to visit Kabul after its destruction and pray to God as a gesture of thanks. If the first scenario is proved abortive, Pakistan may seek the destruction of all what was achieved, be it spiritual, material, physical, economic, cultural or political gains.
(4) The approach of Regional and International Powers
The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the evacuation of opponent or hostile group from the region are prioritized by Iran, Russia, and China. In the ongoing peace talks, this aim will be met to some extent, if not to a great extent, and the opponent’s presence would be decreased, if not drawn down to zero. However, the aftermath of Afghanistan’s political system and constitution as well as citizens’ rights after the US troop pullout may carry no significance for regional and global powers. The reduced presence of US troops in the region is favored by Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan and the ongoing peace process is moving forward to their satisfaction. Only India’s stance is similar to that of Afghanistan for evident reason.
(5) Government’s Approach:
So far, the Afghan government has proposed Afghan-owned and Afghan-led clear agenda and gradual transparent outline. The government prepared the peace roadmap. And it was reiterated on several occasions that the difference between the Afghan nation and state on the one side and the Taliban on the other side was fundamental not superficial. Representing the nation in the peace process, the government has constantly emphasized the principles accepted by the public and made it clear that whenever terrorist networks and anti-government armed groups reconcile themselves with those principles, the fundamental differences would be resolved and the path would be paved for minor issues. The fundamental issues are as following:
1. Legitimacy of defense against terrorist groups
2. Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process
3. The principle of protection of constitution and citizens’ rights
4. The principle of protection of the republic and Islamic system
5. Outlining the reason behind the presence and way of withdrawal of foreign forces
6. Transition from temporary government
7. Defending the National Army as a red-line
Regarding the content of the US-Taliban peace agreement, the Afghan government has emphasized that it would recognize the Taliban as a group not as emirate as it said that prisons are owned by the government not the US. Hence, the prisoner releases are dependent on the way of the Taliban’s next step in the intra-Afghan dialogue. The government accepts the Taliban with open arms as entitled citizens and if amendment in the constitution and system is demanded, it should be carried out on the basis of mechanism defined in the constitution rather than destroying the fundamental pillars of the system and starting from zero.
(6) Opponents’ Approach:
Unsurprisingly, regional and international powers and the Afghan government are in pursuit of citizens’ benefits and national interests. On the other hand, the Taliban seek their own strategic interests. However, only some political figures, be it out of the government organ or having a stake in the government, are indifferent in this regard. Worst, they side with the Taliban and defend the stance of Islamic Emirate waiting for their arrival.
To be continued…
The Approach of Involved Parties in Peace Issue: