Political reconciliation with Taliban is currently a hot topic in social media, with policymakers striving for a peaceful settlement with warring groups to end insurgency that has wracked Afghanistan – and yet the predicament of reconciliation in Afghanistan with the Taliban is not something new and has been shaped by repeated efforts.
Hence, while peace talks with the Taliban have been ongoing, the recent overture of President Ashraf Ghani — which was made in the Kabul Process Meeting — is totally diverse from previous efforts and has something new such as: the Taliban will have an office in Kabul; their families will be resettled in peace and they will have passports; Taliban prisoners will be released, and their member will be free of sanctions; the names of top commanders will be removed from UN international terrorist blacklists; and Taliban will be recognized as a legitimate political group.
The Taliban has not yet rejected nor accepted the Ashraf Ghani peace proposal, which was made in Kabul Process Meeting. On Tuesday, March 27, senior delegations from different countries gathered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to breathe life into the stalled Afghan peace process in Afghanistan. In Tashkent, Ashraf Ghani once again called on the Taliban to lay down their weapons and accept the peace deal that was made in Kabul Process Conference last month.
In the past, the Afghan government believed that the negotiated approach of peace with the Taliban as championed by Pakistan, the United States and the Kabul administration assumed that peace in Afghanistan would be impossible without a considerable degree of cooperation between Washington and Islamabad, reflecting Afghan politicians noticing that the US and Pakistan hold a substantial influence over the Taliban.
Consequently, the Ghani administration initially focused on the efforts of Islamabad and provided every possible option to the Pakistan army and ISI to collaborate with his government in peace talks with Taliban. As an outcome, the Quadrilateral Monitoring Committee (QMC) was established by Pakistan, Afghanistan, the US and China, and the committee assured to facilitate and support Afghanistan which was mired in reconciliation process and to create a roadmap for the stalled peace talks. The first meeting was held in Islamabad on January 11, 2016, marked with the sending of six Afghan Army trainees to the Pakistani military academy in Abbottabad to study there for 18 months and a signed intelligence sharing information for coordination between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan National Directorate of Security (ANDS).
These acts of President Ghani were highly criticized internally and openly criticized by former President Hamid Karzai, who accused the Ghani administration of treason for signing the intelligence-sharing agreement with Pakistan. In response Islamabad played a puzzling role that nobody knew whether they were encouraging the Taliban or supporting negotiations with the Afghan government and the Taliban. It appeard that Pakistan had designed and pursued a double-standard policy from on the one side being allied with the Afghan government, but on the other providing a safe haven and ammunition to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The hypocritical role of Pakistan regarding constructive diplomacy with the Taliban changed the aim of the Ghani administration, to discard the role of Islamabad from the peace process. As such, the Afghan government emphasized on internal components instead of external ones, and President Ghani used his own diplomatic skills to drive the Taliban to the table of arbitration and therefore he has offered a green signal of peace to the Taliban in which they will be recognized as a legitimate political party. This decision bequeaths a chance to the insurgent groups to choose their destiny on their own, and as such President Ghani’s overture to the Taliban is salient because for the first time throughout the reconciliation process they have been offered a comprehensive peace scheme without any precondition.
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