Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 19th, 2018

Is Peace Talks with Taliban Possible?

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Is Peace Talks with Taliban Possible?

Going by what transpired to the Afghan premiership and its western allies have commonly comprehended that negotiation with the fanatically purist Taliban are indeed for a cooperative path out of the morass after ten years of often directionless war.
Centrality of the message is that a concerted act may wave over Afghanistan, making the insurgents to wither away with pledges to reintegrate them back in the social and political fabrics by offering security, vocational training, jobs and amnesty for the past crimes. Among the high profile Taliban, the U.S, however, is in favor of engaging mid and low level militants, 70 percent of whom are believed to fight for money and reasons other than ideology and may lay down arms if given a viable alternative. Fragmenting the Taliban in good, moderate and bad standards, the good probably refers to a newer generation that might be more willing to cut deals with Taliban and its associates than the older generation, who are associated with the likes of Mullah Mohammad Omar. It is being believed that the disenchanted folks can be accommodated in the political mainstream if they renounce violence and stop killing of innocent Afghans. Then there is the perennial talk of wooing moderate Taliban over to the government's side. However, the hurdles lie ahead must be brought to light, How to identify the modes of reconciliation with dissidents? Will the new Strategy work? Did the conferences on Afghanistan signal a bold and new approach or offer a blueprint for the US-led coalition's exit strategy?

It is also no secret that the many of the Afghanistan's international allies want to withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible as there is public pressure in many of the western countries. The success is thus oscillatory and it is yet to be seen whether the west could win by this process, subtly fomenting discord among Taliban in order to achieve the objectives. It is clear that neither the Taliban nor US-led coalition are currently in a position to win the war in Afghanistan. What is more significant though is that the militants enjoy the upper hand right now not the Afghan government and its international allies. Obviously, the maxima has been factored out by realizations on part of both the US-led international forces and the combatants, leading the former cartographers to understand that success in untangle the Afghan knot is impossible at the crossroads, likewise the latter stewardship does not feel winning the global battleground that had already witnessed motleys of the Great Game played there in different eras.

In this dual-tracked compromising path, the west is relying solely on the past imperialistic game of dissecting the Taliban by providing incentives package of politico-socio engineering and financial backing to war weary leaders and foot soldiers, assuming that concessionary modus-vivendi could win over the brawling ideological concord. Antithetically, the Taliban is waiting out for the cut and run channel, previously exercised by the mighty US in Vietnam. With the west's possible admission that the best it can get in Afghanistan is a stalemate followed by the foreign forces' withdrawal, coercive violence may reappear at some later stage where the defected Afghan segments may join hands with the war-lords. If that happens, Afghanistan and the region as a whole could be back to trauma. Washington's formula is calculating on the possibility of talks with the battle fatigued sections of Taliban coupled by a surge in allied forces offensive against those unwilling to come to the negotiation table. But the question arises; can the Taliban be so shaky in a year's time that can be dictated to from a position of strength?

The London conference was the sixth in the series of the long-term commitments and pledges to Afghanistan, as previously set out in the 2001 Bonn Agreement, in the 2002 Tokyo Conference, the 2006 Afghanistan Compact, the 2008 Paris Declaration and the 2009 The Hague Conference Declaration. The London communiqué dangled the prospect of a longed-for peace. Once again the international community re-affirmed its support for the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions upholding the security, stability and prosperity of Afghanistan and in particular the role of the U.N. itself in achieving this goal. In the meantime, three strategic reviewed have been taken by President Obama. The solely reason behind is that 2009 and 2010 had highly been bad time for the causalities of international coalition forces that is increasing with the passage of every year. The Western public pressure is also demanding social-civilian engineering rather than troop surge. The moot was merely the continuity of previous pledges and hopes. Two new developments took place in this conference. Firstly, the Karzai's sponsored reintegration plan, and secondly the committed increase in donors' proportion of development aid to 50 percent to be delivered through the government of Afghanistan. But this support is conditional on the government's progress to further strengthening public financial management system, reducing endemic corruption, improving budgetary execution, developing a finance strategy and government's capacity towards the goal in particular.

The London meeting backed the President Karzai's plan to reintegrate Taliban who are willing to cut ties with Al-Qaida and like minded groups, avoid violence and pursue their political goals peacefully and offer an honorable social status in a free and open society that respect the principles enshrined in the Afghan constitution. President Karzai's International allies pledged $500 million for the reconciliation fund, officially known as the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund and dubbed as the Taliban Trust Fund by some. The strategic community realized that some political element is missing in their Afghan paradigm, therefore they included civilian surge as an important component of the Afghan strategy.

US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton had also acknowledged that most modern conflicts didn't end with a victory on the field of battle and therefore political and development work was essential. Analyzing the shift in policy towards negotiation, critics predict if political and softer strategy initiatives are subject to the kinetic measures then durable peace in Afghanistan will be a remote dream. This reintegration plan excludes the core combatant leadership in the engagement of political reconciliation. Nothing could be clearer than the fact that there is an ever-widening divide in the perception, interests and understanding of the situation amongst the various stakeholders in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, the Heart of Asia is in state of doldrums since ten years, facing the shock and awe approach that envisaged the U.S-led allies using military power against an essentially Taliban to obtain its submission. Now, the legitimacy of the Afghan authorities and international community will depend on their ability to establish a truly representative government through full inclusion of all the Afghan stakeholders in the political process for the lasting peace in Afghanistan.

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