Adverse Climate for the Peace Efforts
As the Afghan government struggles to bring the Taliban into negotiation table, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, whose role is considered as crucial in the efforts for bringing peace in Afghanistan, is teetering. The Afghan government, disappointed of Pakista n’s sabotage of the peace efforts and its unwillingness to persuade the militants to shun violence, is increasingly criticizing the role of Pakistan in the ongoing efforts for ending the long-lasting conflict.
Aimal Faizi, a spokesman of President Karzai, has renewed criticisms made recently made by Afghan Foreign Ministry officials to Pakistan’s role in ‘nurturing and controlling the Taliban’. Recently, Jawid Ludin, deputy of Afghan Foreign Ministry said Pakistan created hurdles for reintegrating the Taliban and imprisoned or killed the Taliban leaders who were willing to negotiate with the government of Afghanistan.
The adverse developments in Pak-Afghan ties are evolving as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is set to have an official visit to Qatar. According to officials, President Karzai is invited by Qatari government for talks on bilateral relations and the ongoing peace efforts. There are also reports that the President may reach final agreement for opening of the Taliban’s political office. President Karzai’s trip to Qatar is seen as important in the process of peace efforts and the fate of the political office for the Taliban movement in Qatar. It is expected that the visit have a substantial outcome for opening of the much-awaited office in the gulf country.
Afghan officials have always labeled the role of Pakistan crucial in peace talks with the Taliban and for years persuaded Islamabad to the Afghan-led peace efforts and bring Taliban leaders into negotiation table. Seemingly, there are bigger reasons behind the straining relations between Kabul and Islamabad, specifically over the ongoing peace with the Taliban. In the trilateral summit of Afghan, Pakistan and UK leaders in London, Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to reach a peace deal with the Taliban in six months. The timeframe for peace was illusionary and not based on the realities on the ground. However, Afghan and Pakistani officials were optimistic as if they were very close to securing peace with insurgent groups.
But the events that followed the summit were disappointing, proving that Pakistan was still on the same page of spoiling peace negotiations with Taliban leaders. In an unexpected move, the head of Pakistan’s Ulema Council, the main government-supported clerics’ body, called the suicide attacks in Afghanistan ‘permissible’.
Before that, the planned joint conference of Pakistan-Afghanistan Ulema was canceled, upsetting the government of Afghanistan who expected condemnation of suicide attacks by the joint clerics’ conference. It was believed that the cancellation of the meeting and the controversial remarks of the top Pakistani cleric were manipulated by Pakistan’s military or its intelligence body, the ISI. Afghan officials condemned the comments and attributed it to ISI’s reluctance in supporting Afghan peace efforts.
It seems the situation for the peace efforts is very desperate as the Afghan officials are completely disappointed with Pakistan’s role in the efforts aimed at ending the conflict in Afghanistan. As we expect results from Karzia’s Qatar visit, the prospect of peace is uncertain as Pakistan and Afghanistan do not seem to be on the same page on the peace plan and Islamabad’s sabotage may continue for indefinite time.