Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Negotiation Profile of Afghanistan: A Reality Check and Beyond

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Negotiation Profile of Afghanistan: A Reality  Check and Beyond

The official engagement and signing of an agreement with Taliban by the United States of America on February 29, 2020, without involving any other stakeholders has made it a valid entity in context of Afghanistan with whom any concerned can talk who aspires a political stability and development in the country, although, the conduct of Taliban in post agreement phase and especially in 3-4 months when US began to exit from the country, has surprised we all because it has captured the areas vacated by foreign security forces in a neck-to-neck fight with the forces of Afghan government and showed least or no interest in political negotiations/democratic processes, existed in present day Afghanistan. The signed document is not primary for the US because first it had decided to withdraw from the country which followed an agreement with Taliban as an excuse or to save the American face and not vice-versa. In the proper purview of exit arrangement comes first which should follow withdrawal. This wide gap in US policy/ intention has given Taliban abundant space to spread in all parts of the country by fighting and defeating the forces of Afghan government and to be in power without proper election. They also know it well that once they assume control over the whole of country, it would be quite easy for them to win an election and become a legal authority of the nation to rule over. So alike the United States they also thought first to take control followed by an election to keep the world opinion silent, where some charges of election rigging will be levelled in as usual way, later to be forgotten by we all concerned. Thus, the post-agreement developments like the US silence over the huge application of violence by Taliban where no one talks about the terms and conditions of the agreement raises several questions on motives and designs behind the scene.
Initial efforts for negotiation
Within month of the incident of 9/11 which took place in Washington, the United States of America started a war known as ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ in search of Osama bin Laden, the chief of Al-Qaeda terror group, and prime accused of this deadly devastation, who was supposed to be hiding in Afghanistan. First of all, George W. Bush, the then President of America made a formal request to the ruling Taliban leadership to handover Osama which the later refused, paved the way for such a long war between US-led allies forces of NATO countries by making military bases near the major cities of the country and later the United Nations Security Council created the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to train Afghan National Security Forces primarily to prevent any resurgence of the Taliban group. As a result, the Taliban rule in Afghanistan ended at the close of the year 2001 which followed the Bonn Agreement without participation of Taliban, the main cause of friction between the two as soon thereafter Taliban showed a sign of comeback in 2003. From there onwards insurgency in Afghanistan increased four times between 2002 and 2006 and people across the world realized the seriousness of the situation, resulting in intensifying the advocacy for negotiation at different levels, although, for more 2-4 years the US administration ignored peace efforts initiated by the Afghan government and others, but increased the number of security forces to fight with Taliban in the country and it was only in 2010 that Obama allowed possible negotiators to solve the war. Now, they all began negotiating with open mind but some success reached to them in 2016 when first peace agreement was signed between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-I Islami Gulbuddin, the second largest domestic militant group after the Taliban.
Towards negotiation and exit
In the terror history of Afghanistan for the first time the US President Donald Trump questioned the credibility of Pakistan in August 2017 by saying that it is harbouring the Taliban and not taking any action against terrorists. The American blame on the one hand increased the number of terror attacks in the country while it speeded up the pace of ongoing negotiations by different stakeholders. Going a step further Trump appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as special adviser on Afghanistan in the US Department who met various representatives to seek a political solution of the issue. Along with US, Afghan government, Pakistan, China and Russia became active and were in direct or indirect touch of Taliban to solve the problem. In the meantime, US special adviser on Afghanistan also visited several times in Afghanistan and lastly as a result of one-to one talk with Taliban an agreement between the two was signed on February 29, 2020, at Doha (Qatar), to bring a lasting peace with proper political process.
This agreement was divided in four parts entailing various terms and conditions. According to the agreement signed the United States will withdrew from the country in next 14 months and a negotiation will start soon among different internal factions of Afghanistan for political settlement.
US withdrawal and thereafter
With the assumption of power by Joe Biden, the new President of the United States, the last date of US exit extended by some months with final pack up before September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Although, the agreement was concluded to establish peace and stability in the country and region as well, but Taliban multiplied attacks on Afghan security forces and began capturing afghan territory vacated by foreign forces. This new development has surprised all and pushed the country towards a declared war/civil war to decide the ultimate fate of torn Afghanistan. As the intensity and volume of violence remained very high, it is not conducive for any political settlement to proceed further and coming months of the year likely to be the darkest day in the history of modern Afghanistan. At the juncture, most people of the region feel cheated in hands of the US with whom they hoped to see a democratically developed Afghanistan with peace and stability.
Today the single target of Taliban are Afghan security forces and their opponents within the country, but not the outgoing foreign forces who were fighting with them for the last 20 years. It raises several questions on motives and intention attached with the signed agreement.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh Professor and Head Department of Political Science Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University Madhepura-852113. Bihar, India. Email-rajkumarsinghpg@gmail.com

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