Afghan peace process
FROM the perspective of Afghan Taliban, acceptance and debate on three issues would define the contours of Afghan peace process. The first issue is about the withdrawal of US and foreign forces from Afghan soil. The second issue in the priority is exchange of prisoners, Taliban desires their prisoners with US and Afghan Government should be released and in return they will release the prisoners, they have. The third issue is about lifting a ban on the movement of Taliban leaders, which cannot travel around the world without US permission, since 2001. There have been rounds of formal and informal talks between US and Taliban but, no consensus could be achieved on all three points. In November 2018, United States did announce reducing its military presence in Afghanistan to half but, there exists ambiguity about the future course of action, since White House and Pentagon are not on the same page on the issue of pull-out of US forces. In the absence of clarity from US, this gesture is being perceived as an appeasement policy for Taliban to move forward in the talks. Moreover, it was announced a day earlier to Taliban-US talks in Doha, Qatar in November 2018. On their parts, Taliban are not happy with US, since there have been more promises with no implementation on ground.
Pakistan has always advised US for a political solution of Afghan problem. However, after a prolonged and ineffective military engagement in Afghanistan, U.S has come to the conclusion that political settlement of Afghan conflict is the ultimate way forward. Such an initiative will empower its people to ‘chart a shared course for the future of their nation.’ Intra-Afghan dialogue would serve as a platform for reaching over to a consensus solution. With this mind-set, US has started emphasizing Taliban to talk to Afghan Government either as part of intra-Afghan dialogue or else allows the Afghan Government delegation to participate in the US-Taliban talks. Taliban are still reluctant to talk to Afghan Government on the grounds that it is a puppet government, acting as US tool; therefore it is irrational to talk to them. Their argument is based on the fact that Kabul regime would follow the directives from Washington. Then, Taliban also question the writ and legitimacy of Afghan Government. Besides, Taliban has a view point that Afghan Government is not capable of addressing their demands like withdrawal of US forces; thus talking to them would be a futile effort, rather wastage of time. Moreover, it will be amounting to recognizing the legitimacy of Afghan Government.