London Summit and Glimpse of Hope for Peace
The US and NATO forces are preparing to exit Afghanistan as the war is still raging and there is no prospect for a peace deal with Taliban in near future. The government of Afghanistan is struggling to find a way for talking with the Taliban and other insurgent groups over initiation of peace dialogue which ends the bloody chapter of more than a decade of war in the country.
Afghan, British and Pakistani leaders are in a trilateral meeting in London to smooth the way for peace talks with Taliban and to strengthen cooperation on security and other bilateral issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The main and specific demand which President Karzai would put forward to the trilateral meeting – in which high-profile security and intelligence officials from both countries attend – is release of more Taliban prisoners who might help possible negotiations between the government of Afghanistan and the militants.
It is expected that Pakistani officials would show a positive signal to that demand and more cooperation for the peace efforts, as British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that the two leaders have agreed on ‘unfrequented level of cooperation’.
Furthermore, in a bold and ambitious plan for peace, Karzai and Zardari have agreed to spare no effort for cutting a peace deal with Taliban within next six months. Despite all positive signals from Pakistan on its cooperation in facilitating negotiations with Taliban, the six-month timeframe for reaching a deal with Taliban seems to be too wishful, as the Taliban do not seem to be prepared for beginning talks with the government of Afghanistan in next months.
But despite that, presently the prospect for possibility of a peace deal with the Taliban and other insurgent groups seems to be in sight than any time before, as Islamabad is showing willingness for a peaceful settle of this conflict before NATO and US leaves Afghanistan in 2014.
Presence of Pakistan’s security and intelligence officials in the meeting in London is highly important and, indeed, it is indicating a substantial change in relations of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the process of the peace efforts.
After meeting with Afghan and Pakistani leaders at his official country retreat, British PM David Cameron issued a direct appeal to the Taliban to come to negotiation table and enter peaceful talks on the future of the country. The call by British PM and the agreement of ‘unprecedented level of cooperation’ between Af-Pak’s leaders on peace talks with the Taliban, is the culmination of efforts by all sides in the reach-out efforts to the Taliban.
But the prospect still remains uncertain, influence of Asif Ali Zardari on the country’s military and intelligence to array them in full support of the Afghan peace program is questionable. Both countries are facing elections in next two years and the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty and difficulties, but the resolve shown by both sides in London is indicating that there are glimpses of hope for building a peace in the years to come.