Afghan Peace Talks and the Unseen Future of Afghanistan

Have the Taliban really changed or is it that the U.S. is looking for an escape?

After several failed attempts to end fighting through diplomacy the recent round of talks between the U.S. high officials, Taliban are expected to eventually end the war.  This is not the first time that the Americans and the Taliban have sat down for talks. However, these talks are taken more seriously as they have been significant in hammering out an agreement to start the process of ending the war.  One significant development so far is that the Taliban have agreed to draft a framework of a deal.   Washington claims that the Taliban have agreed to prevent groups like Al-Qaeda to use the Afghan territory from planning attacks.  According to Zalmay Khalilzada Chief U.S. negotiator and Envoy to Afghanistan U.S. wants to establish peace which is worth the sacrifices made during the past 17 years.    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is concerned that the final agreement must protect the rights of Afghans. Furthermore, Ghani has asserted that values such as national unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and a strong central government are indisputable. The Taliban attacks have intensified in a bid to gain leverage in the talks. These escalating attacks have already delayed the Presidential elections from April to July.   President Trump’s frustration over the long running Afghan war suggests that the U.S. seriously wants to pull out of Afghanistan which is also called the Graveyard of Empires.  The Afghan peace talks are welcomed globally as pursuing an endless war does not determine peace.  However, as rounds of talks continue between the U.S. and the Taliban many analysts are wondering that can the Taliban be really trusted.  Considering the history of Afghanistan were warlords and violent groups are never tired of fighting some segments of Afghan society are really concerned about their fate.  It is obviously true that political settlement inside Afghanistan will be tremendously challenging involving the Taliban, the U.S., the Afghan population, civil society and ethnic groups.

Some international observers are concerned that as the peace process continues none of the conflicting parties have yet articulated their vision of the future of Afghanistan.  There are vague indications on the Taliban side that they are looking for an Islamic form of government with a new constitution.  However, the current government wants to continue the same form of government with no change in the Afghan Constitution.  One view supports the idea of trusting the Taliban who have changed their public position by claiming not to monopolize power.  Furthermore, this view also asserts that Taliban have certainly changed their position on women and children to what it used to be when they were in power.   However, the other view is skeptical of trusting the Taliban at face value claiming that the vision regarding the future of Afghanistan should win the support of the broad range of Afghans.

Reports suggest that women’s movement in Afghanistan demands that their rights listed in the Constitution must be preserved even if the Taliban are in the mainstream politics.  According to women activists since women living in 30% of the Taliban controlled territory are still deprived of their basic rights the Taliban cannot be fully trusted. Some believe that the exclusion of Afghan government from the peace talks suggests the State’s inability to preserve women’s rights in future.   Since women in Afghanistan are now public office holders they have created the slogan of not returning to the old tradition of suppression.

Holding peace talks with the Taliban is surely the last option left for the U.S. to end this seemingly endless war. However, what future will actually hold for Afghanistan once the U.S. forces pull out is still unseen.   Some international observers praise these peace talks as they have at least managed to initiate a significant peace process.  However, others believe that the international community needs to play a major role in building lasting peace in Afghanistan. Since Afghanistan is dependent on aid what the Afghan’s agree on does not matter much if the international community is not willing to fund it.  Therefore, there is a need to have an international frame work as well.  Pulling out troops is perhaps the only way of escape for the U.S. from the Afghan quagmire.  The United States however must take the responsibility of sincerely building peace in war torn Afghanistan.   The Afghans have a long history of bloodshed and violence as many powers have been violently engaged in their country for decades. Therefore, the international community especially the U.S. must do its best in order to build lasting peace as Afghans also have the right to live peacefully.

 



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