Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Reconciliation must be Transparent

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Reconciliation must be Transparent

The reports of an unofficial Taliban embassy in Qatar stirred the calm ocean of confidence in the Afghan presidential office. The reports were very much stirring for the President Karzai and other Afghan authorities because they were not involved in the matter; the news came to them as a shock and they reacted instantly. They believed that Western Allies and especially US would keep Afghan President in confidence while taking such a crucial step but the report seems to have shattered that confidence.

Though the reports of such an office in Qatar have not been confirmed, yet the concerns are very much real. The report was basically revealed by an Indian newspaper and it said that Qatar and US officials agreed the office with a Taliban representative. It further reported that final arrangements had been put in place for a Taliban office with "the privileges but not the formal protection of a diplomatic mission". However, it cited unnamed Indian diplomatic sources.

The presidential office as a reaction called its ambassador to Qatar in order to confirm the reports and take necessary measures. Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi – an advocate of peace talks with insurgents, confirmed that the Afghan ambassador was called because presidential office was stirred by the possibility of being excluded from reconciliation process with Taliban.

He said, "Recently there were some efforts outside Afghanistan with some countries that wanted to continue the peace process or negotiations with the armed opposition alone or … without taking consultations from Afghanistan." He further added, "The aim of recalling our ambassador from Qatar was to discuss the issue." Reacting to the possibility of the establishment of such an office in Qatar he argued, "We oppose any kind of negotiations where delegation or delegations of Afghanistan have no leading role and emphasize that any kind of negotiations must be led by Afghans." The president, in the same regard, met the former Mujahideen commanders, religious figures and top government officials.

The meeting made certain conclusions among which the most important one was to have such an office in Afghanistan or, if not possible, it must be maintained in a better place than Qatar and Afghan government must be informed of such developments. The statement that was revealed after the conclusion of the meeting said, "The participants also reiterated that before the start of peace negotiations, war and violence against the people of Afghanistan must be stopped," and "If the situation is not yet suitable for such an office it should be in an Islamic country, preferably in Saudi Arabia or Turkey."

The reconciliation process with Taliban has been a troubling issue for both Afghanistan and it allies. There have been many efforts made in this regard and almost all of them have failed. Starting from the establishment of High Peace Council to today when US is reportedly seeking establishment of Taliban diplomatic office in Qatar the reconciliation has not been able to make any important achievement; rather there have been occasions when Afghan government and it allies have been fooled by fake Taliban representatives.

Throughout the process Afghanistan has paid a heavy price. Instead of gaining anything from the process, they have been sacrificing both financially and in the form of precious human lives. Taliban as a response have been more aggressive.

They even went to the extent of targeting the Council chief Burhan ud din Rabbani. After the demise of High Peace Council chief Burhan ud din Rabbani, president Karzai commented that it would be inappropriate to seek negotiations with Taliban; rather it would be better to negotiate with Pakistan.

His tone definitely seemed sarcastic, suggesting that Pakistan has not been doing much in the war against terrorism. US, on the other hand, after the attacks on US Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, declared vehemently that Haqqani network that was blamed for the attacks has been backed by Pakistan's spy agency.

The further blow to the reconciliation process came in the form of the worst relations between US and Pakistan after the attack on Pakistani military check post within the Pakistani border that killed 24 soldiers. US has, on many occasions, mentioned that dialogue and cooperation from Pakistan are needed to win a comprehensive war against the terrorism and better relations must be maintained with them to remove the misunderstandings.

Moreover, US mentioned that it is even ready to have dialogues with Taliban, even the Haqqani network. The statement suggesting so came from Hilary Clinton, who once clearly mentioned that US would always welcome negotiations for a peace process.

Earlier, US was on the verge of including the network in the list of notorious terrorist organizations and on different occasions the network has been responsible for the killing of a considerable number of US troops. But this invitation from US depicted that US has been striving to be able to arrange for some political reconciliation before they withdraw most of their forces by 2014.

It now feels the vacuum of a strong strategic endeavor for political reconciliation. And it should never be forgotten that Political reconciliation has always been an important factor and only political solution may last for long in Afghanistan after the international troops withdraw considerably.

Most importantly Afghanistan must, in every way, be a part of such a political reconciliation and it is important that all such efforts must be made as transparent as possible; not only to the Afghan authorities but also the Afghan people who have been suffering largely as a result of disorder in the country. Unilateral decisions by US in this regard can not prove fruitful and will further strengthen distrust.

The tensions that had erupted after the attacks on US Embassy, the death of Burhan ud din Rabbani and the attacks on Pakistani military check post would take some time to settle a bit, however, such settlement would be a very positive sign and only through such settlement the necessary triangle for political reconciliation – Afghanistan, US and Pakistan – can get in order.

But earlier attempts in this regard have not been able to result in practical and positive steps. Short periods of trust and cooperation have always been followed by disturbance. Such attitude can never prove helpful for the overall situation in the region and can not prove favorable in order to reach a decisive reconciliation with the terrorist networks.

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

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