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Afghan peace process on fast track!

Afghan peace process on fast track!  Or A walk into blind alley?

America is abdicating its obligation of bringing a responsible end to “wrong wars”, it has decided to pull out its troops from Syria and Afghanistan. A lot has happened with regard to evolving Afghan peace process during 2018, most of the activity is not yet in public domain. Hopefully, Pakistan government would stand on its feet firmly to safeguard its core national interests; and would not buckle under American pressure to offer strategic concessions in exchange for paltry gains like previous governments which had to deal with earlier portions of Afghan crisis. Americans are in an indecent hurry, this should not tailspin Pakistan into a state of panic.

With recent American trend of walking away from earlier international treaties, they can no longer be trusted with new ones. Pakistan should insist for appropriate international guarantees, both within and outside UNSC framework. Alongside, all six immediate neighbours of Afghanistan should be made part of the evolving peace agreement. There should be a multilateral mechanism to oversee the implementation of agreement leading to transfer of control of Afghanistan’s destiny to Afghan people through a UN supervised presidential and parliamentary elections in which Taliban also participate as a political entity.

Trump administration is aiming to strike a deal with the Taliban by April next year or before the Afghan presidential elections. The Taliban, who control over 60 per cent of the Afghan territory, want the US forces to leave Afghanistan. Representatives of the Taliban, the US and several Asian countries gathered in the UAE on December 17-18. The talks were supposed to last three days, as per earlier official announcements, but neither side explained what prompted them to abruptly end the process. Afghan government officials also travelled to the UAE, but were not invited into the meeting. They met with other delegations and said that efforts to join the discussions continued.

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Afghan peace process oscillations

The Trump administration is aiming to strike a deal with the Taliban before the Afghan presidential elections, for which new schedule shall be announced in due course. The Taliban, who control over 60 per cent of the Afghan territory, want the US forces to leave Afghanistan. Representatives of the Taliban, the US and several Asian countries gathered in the UAE on December 17-18. The talks were supposed to last three days, as per earlier official announcements, but neither side explained what prompted them to abruptly end the process. Afghan government officials also travelled to the UAE, but were not invited into the meeting. They met with other delegations and said that efforts to join the discussions continued. Afghan peace process in a a state of perpetual oscillations. Taliban, say the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace. Even as the peace process gathers momentum, fighting has continued with heavy casualties on both sides. President Ashraf Ghani’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, stated that Afghan government had not taken part directly in the talks, however a team from Kabul met US and Saudi officials in the UAE. Pakistan Foreign office welcomed a new round of talks between the Afghan Taliban and other international stakeholders: “Along with international community and other stakeholders, Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” said FO Spokesperson on Twitter: “Talks are being held in UAE. We hope this will end bloodshed in Afghanistan and bring peace to the region.” Notwithstanding the optimism, Afghan peace may stay elusive unless occupation forces offer concrete concessions including firm timeframe for the departure of last foreign soldier and substantial restructuring of Afghan constitution.

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