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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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One only hopes that the present action by Indian armed forces does not escalate further. The national sentiments have been roused, trade with Pakistan has been curtailed by withdrawing the most favored nation’ status to Pakistan. As such we need to introspect, can this region afford violence over and over again? The underlying factors leading to India-Pakistan-Kashmir discord need to be tackled through a process of dialogue. The hope and prayer is that this limited strike, also being called as ‘surgical strike two’ remains just that and not no more. Imran Khan in the face of aggressive postures has offered to take action if proper evidence is given to Pakistan. He has also shown his willingness for talks. Meanwhile United Nations General Secretary has offered to mediate in the process to bring peace and amity in the region. These are the olive branches we need to grab to see that decade long problem is sorted out. India as a country direly needs to bring the issues related to development, corruption, jobs and agrarian crisis back on the table. It is resolution of these issues which will bring in peace and prosperity in the region, away from the smell of gunpowder on the soil and hate for minorities in the air.

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