Afghan peace longing for a Messiah
ENSURING that upcoming parliamentary election passes off smoothly and without major occurrences of violence is the top priority for the Afghan government and its allies—foreign occupation forces. Last month Taliban representatives met an Afghan government delegation in Saudi Arabia to discuss security ahead of elections and a limited prisoner release. “They requested us to help them conduct peaceful elections,” said a Taliban official. “The Afghan delegation has agreed with us on the release of prisoners,” he said. Some prisoners facing minor charges have already been released. “Some of our senior people were not in the favour of holding talks with the Afghan government as until now we were calling them puppets and refused to meet them,” said a Qatar based Taliban leader. Reportedly, meeting in Saudi Arabia came after plans for another meeting with American officials broke down over US demand for a 90 days’ ceasefire. Ceasefire request was something Taliban leadership could not agree to.
Earlier this year, the US had given up its refusal to talk to Taliban directly; thereafter, delegations met in Doha, in July. “Our agreement for holding the meeting was only to discuss prisoner exchange and the removal of our people from the UN black list so they can travel,” said a Taliban representative. Taliban regard the incumbent Afghan government as an illegitimate regime imposed by foreign powers, they vehemently insisted on negotiating only with the United States; however, there have been regular unofficial contacts between Talban and the Afghan government. It is only a matter of time that two way talks between Taliban and Afghan government would be acknowledged by all sides. Electoral enthusiasm has been subdued by fears of attacks on polling stations and campaign rallies. Upward spiral of political violence continues in Afghanistan; latest manifestation was deadly attack on an election rally in Nangarhar, which resulted in loss of lives and injuries to scores of people. Reportedly, Taliban are also fighting Daesh militants who have managed to establish a foothold in Afghanistan and have recruited some of Taliban members as well. Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai has accused the US of propping up Daesh and using it as a “tool” for its own agenda in Afghanistan. Practically, Taliban are knocking at the door of Kabul; hence Americans are in a panic to have a meaningful multi-pronged engagement with Taliban. Under these circumstances, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi has had a series of engagements in the US. During all his meeting he discussed prospects of peace in Afghanistan. During his meeting with US National Security Advisor John Bolton, both discussed the efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Afghan situation. Sharing Pakistan’s perspective, Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s long held position that there was no military solution to the situation in Afghanistan. He stated that Pakistan would continue to support the efforts for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.