Intra-Afghan meet brings hope for peace in war-torn country

Jatin Desai
Sunday, 14 July 2019

The recent Intra-Afghan Conference and US-Taliban meeting held in Doha, Qatar, has brought some hope for peace in war-torn Afghanistan. Though, it failed to convince militants to announce an immediate ceasefire, around 60 delegates including 11 women participated in the Intra-Afghan conference.  

The recent Intra-Afghan Conference and US-Taliban meeting held in Doha, Qatar, has brought some hope for peace in war-torn Afghanistan. Though, it failed to convince militants to announce an immediate ceasefire, around 60 delegates including 11 women participated in the Intra-Afghan conference.  

Prior to Intra-Afghan conference, US held 7th round of talks with the Taliban and the talks continued even after the conclusion of Intra-Afghan conference. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, was pleased with the outcome of the deliberations. He said that substantial progress has been made in all four parts of the peace deal. They are counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawals, participation in Intra-Afghan dialogue & negotiations and comprehensive ceasefire.

It was not surprising that terrorists attacked Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan even when dialogue was going on. But the reality is, there is no other way to bring peace in Afghanistan except getting militants to the negotiating table. The US realised it earlier and many other countries including Russia, China, and India, etc. have also accepted it as a reality.  

The joint resolution passed at the end of Intra-Afghan conference is significant. The Taliban agreed to halt attacks on mosques, madrassa, schools, universities, hospitals, markets, residential areas, public places. The idea behind this is to reduce civilian casualties to zero, which is significant. One can argue why halt attacks only on certain places and not across the country? But, this should be seen as the beginning. One needs to begin from somewhere. The resolution also urged the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), the UN, EU and Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to approve and support the joint resolution of the conference. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the Taliban respect the rights of women and journalists, with a rider, ‘as far as they are based on Islamic values.’ Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Pakistan and met Imran Khan. The two leaders held a meeting and discussed how to strengthen bilateral relations and the peace process in Afghanistan.  

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the resolution of the conference and said it was a step forward for bringing peace and stability in the country. Nader Nadery, an advisor to the President, participated in the conference in a personal capacity. He tweeted, “Except the TB (Taliban) the majority of d parti. emphasized their support for keeping the constitution Republic. We reached some common ground, partially reflected n final declaration. TB did not positively response to d calls for immediate ceasefire.” The Afghanistan government was not represented as Taliban was refusing ‘to deal directly with the Western-backed government in Kabul.’ It is not surprising that they are talking to western countries but not to their own government. It is primarily to humiliate the Afghan government as they know they can deal with the countries which back Kabul.

Khalilzad was quite hopeful that at the end of the conference and seventh round of dialogue. He said that the dialogue was most productive. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, during his Kabul visit last month, had said that the US is hoping for a peace deal in Afghanistan before September 1. But, it is unrealistic. There cannot be a peace deal without a ceasefire and some kind of political arrangement. The US troop withdrawal deal can materialise. The negotiations on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan can continue. In return, the US wants commitment from the Taliban that Afghan soil will never again be used to launch terrorist attacks against the US and its 
allies. The US has around 14,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Intra-Afghan dialogue must open the way for the direct talk between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The joint resolution can be seen as a basic framework for future talks. Unless the Afghanistan government comes into the picture, the comprehensive peace deal will be extremely difficult. The process has to be ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.’

Related News