By Anum Malik*
As historically all the successful peace processes have been full of misunderstandings so the recent US-Taliban peace agreement doesn’t seem like seize up, it is just a first step to achieve the lasting peace. After the eighteen years or more, the United States and the Taliban reached an agreement aimed at ending the most intensive efforts yet to end the war in Afghan territory. On February 29, 2020, the both officials US President Donald Trump and Taliban political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Brothers had agreed a point that there would be ‘no violence’. The US and NATO allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months if the militants uphold the deal. President Trump said: “It had been a long and hard journey in Afghanistan. It’s time after all these years to bring our people back home”. The further talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are due to follow. Under the agreement, the militants also agreed not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.
Regarding this peace deal, People throughout the nation are holding their breath being entangled in a state of ambiguity between fear and hope. But many factors are still there, which can be disrupting the peace deal. This is a period, where it’s going to be the most difficult where the Afghan government now, which is squabbling within itself over who is actually running the government, has to find a solution with the Taliban. In-fact this will be the most critical period so far. Here a pin question arises that, can we get any sort of agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban?
The Taliban, who don’t recognize the Afghan government’s legitimacy since declared. So the Taliban had demanded the release of the prisoners as a confidence-building measure to smooth the way for the opening of direct talks with the government. Taliban’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that the deal will not go ahead unless the prisoners were released. An estimated 10,000 captured Taliban members are being held in Afghanistan, and around 5,000 Taliban prisoners were to be released in exchange for 1,000 political prisoners from the government’s side. As in respond, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has signed a mandate to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a move to launch direct talks with the armed group to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. According to a copy of the two-page mandate seen by Reuters news agency on March 10th late evening, all released Taliban prisoners will have to provide a written guarantee to not return to the battlefield. The mandate would facilitate the release of the Taliban prisoners in accordance with an accepted framework for the start of negotiation between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The prisoners release is an indispensable part of the peace-deal, so that’s why this mandate will definitely play a very fruitful role in the entire implementation process of US-Taliban peace deal. Mr. Ashraf Ghani, who previously refused to honor a prisoner swap deal between the US and the Taliban. But later on he said that he was not against to releasing Taliban prisoners to move the peace process forward. In addition to the tensions between Ghani and the Taliban, an escalating political clash between Ghani and his former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah has deepened political chaos in the country. Ghani was sworn in for a second term on Monday, but the ceremony was marred by a rocket attack. Abdullah, who has refused to accept the election results released last month or recognize Ghani as president, also held his own inauguration ceremony on the same day. Meanwhile in last week, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a US resolution on the deal between the US and the Taliban, a rare certification of an agreement with an armed group. The US military has begun withdrawing troops as part of the pullout agreed upon in the February 29 pact. The landmark peace agreement between US-Taliban is bringing a lot of hope for rest of the world but categorically for its immediate neighbor i.e. Pakistan. Because no other state except Pakistan, which can better demonstrate the America’s long history of gambling sides to suit its own strategic objectives. In US-Taliban deal, Pakistan has again emerged as a key player in the Afghan peace process. Afghanistan and Pakistan have been shared a long history of bilateral relations, not just because of ethnic ties and a shared history, but also because of the externalities of conflict in Afghanistan impacting Pakistan. For the past decade and a half, categorically Pakistan has been acted like a whipping boy in throughout the America’s longest war with Taliban. Pakistan has sacrificed its soil and strategic assets under the pressure of both ends. Still Pakistan is wary of actors’ keen on detailing the peace deal process. As Pakistan’s foreign minister Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi has recently stated that, “The political players in Afghanistan should set aside their personal interests in moving the country’s peace process forward”. Further he said: “It was important for intra-Afghan talks to begin swiftly”. Thus, Pakistan will not allow any spoiler to let the peace deal derail. Because it’s worthwhile not only for the lasting peace of Afghanistan, but for rest of the world as well.
*Anum Malik, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad.