Recent attacks in the war-raged Afghanistan by the Taliban could reflect about the possible projection of security and peace situation in the country after the withdrawal of the US troops. The power fragmentation is obvious and clear. The key elements in the Afghanistan peace process know that no stakeholder would compromise for the less even for a single unit. Rather they aspire for more and larger piece of the pie.
A round of intra-Afghan talks has taken place in Doha (Qatar) to settle down the disputes among the leadership of different influential segments and the Taliban. Sponsored by Qatar and Germany, the two-day Doha intra-Afghan meeting was third of its kind in the last six months of this year. The previous two such meetings were hosted by Moscow.
The high-profile meeting featured about 50 Afghan leaders and Taliban representatives to end the 18-year Afghanistan war amid the smoke and bloodshed by an explosion carried out by the armed group of the Taliban in Ghazni city, nearly 150km from capital Kabul. It killed at least 14 people.
Taliban fighters detonated a car bomb near the office of Afghanistan’s main intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), killing eight security personnel and six civilians, including a child. The powerful blast occurred close to a private school in Ghazni, where dozens of children were attending their classes. At least 60 children were among the 180 people wounded in the attack.
The attack was a clear message to all the stakeholders engaged in the Afghanistan peace process. It has also raised questions if the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban will bear any results. U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad in his tweet of July 7, 2019 wrote, “Getting reports of a horrific attack in Ghazni in which schoolchildren were again victims. It is unfathomable to endanger children in this way. I strongly condemn this attack. Peace has never been more urgent and is the only path to ending terror and violence.”
The tragic incident has cast doubts on the role of Taliban in the success and sincerity of the intra-Afghan leadership talks. Perhaps some Taliban elements are left out of the talks. Perhaps they wanted to manoeuvre the talks with an untoward incident to show their power. The third possibility could be of jeopardising the talks by any external elements that have objectives contrary to the peace process.
Whatever could be the possible reason behind the Ghazni attack, it was inhumane and unjustified and it has once again put the Taliban in odd situation. I don’t know if the Taliban could achieve their objective participation in the emerging future scenario with their compromised sincerity. The Taliban segments need to have more objective approach towards their presence and participation in the emerging system.
The proponents of peace in Afghanistan need to develop a more detailed work plan for the social and political inclusion of the stakeholders without any possibility of manoeuvring by anyone. It won’t work out if is entirely left to the intra-Afghan leadership who are trying to eliminate each other for the last eighteen years. The US also needs to understand that their efforts to dismantle the spirit and ‘monster’ of the Taliban had failed and would not succeed even in the distant future. So, paving a path for a strong democratic and inclusive regime in Afghanistan is the only solution for which all the serious efforts should be directed to. Can we think of any sustainable success of peace talks without active participation of the ruling segments of the present Afghan regime?
Pakistan have also hosted the Afghan leaders in Murree, the hill-city nearby the federal capital Islamabad, recently to facilitate them to deliberate upon the modes operandi to harness peace in Afghanistan that is a prelude to the peace in the region.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has also visited Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Hopes and hardships, sufferings and sorrows, anguish and agony, all go afresh whenever the authorities from both sides of the northern border sit together to talk about bilateral relations.
President Ghani’s two-day Pakistan visit is said to be concluded with some hopes for their bilateral relations and Afghan peace. Marred with mistrust and aggression against each other for quite long time now, both countries have agreed to develop a ‘forward-looking vision’ based on cooperation instead of political competition. This consensus was reflected in a statement issued by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and delegation-level talks between the two sides in which the state of relations was reviewed.
The visit was aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in political, trade, economic and security fields and forging stronger and multifaceted ties. The visit took place amid hopes of progress in US-Taliban talks leading to initiation of intra-Afghan dialogue, and ahead of Afghan presidential elections scheduled for September this year.
Two core messages emerged from the Afghanistan President’s visit. One is quoted in the official statement of the Pakistan’s Prime Minister Office (PMO) that Prime Minister Khan has called for “a qualitative transformation” in ties. The other one comes from President Ghani who in his speech at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) emphasised the need for developing “political alignment” between the two neighbours and taking “bold steps”.
President Ashraf Ghani’s present visit took place almost four years after his previous one. He had lived in Pakistan for years as a refugee too during Afghan war against United States of Soviet Russian (USSR) after it invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Since the day Pakistan entered into the US proxy war in Afghanistan, the war miseries started unfolding their wrath to the land and to the people of Pakistan too besides destroying Afghanistan and creating a hell of hatred against Pakistan. All the miseries continue to date for Pakistan despite huge efforts, human and capital cost in wiping off the ‘miscreants’ from erstwhile Fata, Swat and other parts of Pakistan.
The recent visit of the Afghanistan president is likely to improve relations apparently flows from realisation in both capitals that the two neighbours could not progress without positively engaging with each other. It needs courteous and respectful diplomacy.
Cordial neighbourhood of states depends on diplomatic courtesy and it flourishes with mutual respect. Political and personal differences aside, the diligent diplomacy requires best protocol for any visiting head of state when he is in your geographic limits. Any discretion of taking anyone’s visit for granted is reflected as discrepancy in your foreign diplomacy. Such kind of gestures not only embarrasses the visiting dignitary but provide fuel to your state enemies to flare up the mistrust.
During the President Ghani’s visit the deficit of diplomatic norms was keenly observed by everyone. His counterpart or at least prime minister should have received him at the airport instead of Prime Minister’s Advisor Abdul Razzak Daud. Before his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani. What kind of diplomatic discretion Pakistan aspired to show to a person who is somehow believe in mutually cordial relations between the two states? Despite all peace efforts in Afghanistan and hosting three million afghan refugees for decades, Pakistan has been unable to find friends there. Those who tends to be, we try to undermine their gestures. President Ghani is just one example.
The entire efforts to date are said to forging the peace in Afghanistan. Do the major stakeholders really meant it or they are just gambling on Afghanistan peace for their vested interests?