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Is Peace Achievable?

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In spite of long-term struggle for peace talks or negotiation with the Taliban in different ways, including the summit conference earlier this month between the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, yet the ground remained so unclear. The government itself is confused what does it want to achieve, since the Taliban continue their deadly attacks in various parts of the country and their released friends are rejoining their forces who have been recently released from Pakistani prisons to make the way towards peace building in demand to Afghanistan government.

The joint statements issued after the meeting on February 3-4 2013 called for peace talks with the Taliban. In fact, yet there is no clear objective for the peace process or agreement on how to start negotiations. This made the goal set in the communiqué to achieve a peace settlement over the next six months completely unrealistic and practicable in such circumstances. In addition to that the Taliban’s leader reaction to the London meeting threw this into sharper relief.

Their spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has also declared that the summit has had no practical achievements to fulfill the pre-requisites for the peace negotiation. In regard to the ongoing meetings between the Washington and London, it is worth to call that there is no progress in negotiation with the Taliban and even yet it is not confirm setting up an office, just to initiate in establishing a location for a sustained peace talks.

According to reports, there are discussions to formally open such an office have been going on for over a year. They have involved direct exchanges between the U.S officials and the Taliban interlocutors, until the militia suspended the dialogue in March 2012. On various ocpoppy.

casions, President Karzai opposed the office as a result, this became one of the reasons that why the developing Qatar process slowed down. In this regard, with the U.S eager to restart the Qatar process and the American officials persuaded president Karzai to publically announce support for the Doha office during his Washington visit. But, latter President Karzia in his return to Kabul created terms and conditions for this support.

He demanded a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar government and insisted it reflects several conditions. This included the stipulations that the Doha office should be only regarded for the talks between the Taliban and his government appointed the High Peace Council and not between others, including other various Afghan parties. In this regard, the opposition parities state that any talks between the Taliban and Karzai’s government won’t be effective unless all the stockholders are included in the talks with the Taliban or the people are completely put in the picture of the current to do tasks of the peace process with the Taliban.

However, the Taliban’s core demand remains the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and goes completely against the current Afghan government law. What is unclear is whether the Taliban would see assurances on this count as a pre-requisite for peace negotiations or are open to the possibility that such assurances would emerge as an outcome of negotiations.

President Obama’s announcement in his State of the Union address to accelerate the pace of troop withdrawal this year could create space that might be helpful in future talks. But direct U.S-Taliban engagement has to first resume to determine that. However, as per the ground facts, the situation gets worst with every passing day due to insecurity reason over the last couple of years and months that killed the head of peace council Mr Brahanuddin Rabbani, including other top government officials.

Corruption has remained another key factor that contributes to the high level of insecurity reasons and instability while narcotic production has accelerated the level of insurgent’s funds in launching their operation in every parts of the state. The London meeting served as a reminder that finding a path to the negotiating table remains an onerous task.

Given the present impasse and decisions that Washington and the Taliban leadership have yet to take, progress towards a negotiated peace remains a more distant possibility than the hope expressed by the Chequers statement. Above all, settlement with the Taliban is the only hope for a permanent peace in Afghanistan.

The government has to choose another approach towards negotiation with the Taliban that should guarantee those of joining the government a sustainable source of income for their livelihoods so that they should not join their militant group again because of unemployment. Thus, it should also serve to involve all the stakeholders while people must be fully put in the picture.

Now the legitimacy of the Afghan authorities and international community will depend on their ability to establish a truly representative government through full inclusion of all the Afghan stakeholders in the political process for the lasting peace and stability not only in Afghanistan but also in the world at large.

Abdul Samad Haidari is a writer of the Daily Afghanistan Express.

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