The Disappointing Process of Peace in Afghanistan
By Mohammad Yasin Sultani
During past years, many conferences and trust-building forums have been periodically held in Kabul or abroad for bringing peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. High level Meetings have been repeatedly hosted in many capitals. The High Peace Council, with branches all across the country, was formed. A remarkable amount of the national budget has been allocated regarding facilitation of the peace process. Meanwhile, international and national unity of opinion on the need for peace is not only available but also supports to advance peace talks. Despite all above preparations, yet there is no sign of hope regarding peace process in Afghanistan. In such conditions, it is so natural to run questions that despite these all facilitations and efforts why there is no achievement for the peace process? And what are the obstacles which trouble peace talks? Is there any error in the mechanism through which peace effort is pursued? In the following rows these questions are the main matters to be addressed.
With no dispute, traditional clerics, the “moulawees”, and tribal heads in relation together in the socio-political history of Afghanistan has acted as obstacles on the path towards change and development. These men have had no initiatives on matters of change for a better future. Amanullah Khan, the Afghan pro-development king was toppled by them because of his policies based on new norms. King Nader, amended King Amanullah’s polices in accordance with religious principles. King Mohammad Zaher, under the pressure from abroad, begun to make some changes was also troubled by clerics and tribal heads. President Mohammad dawood, a pro-economic development and a tyranny in politics, was also bothered by religious and tribal heads. The communism faced tough resistance from the whole population motivated by clerics through traditional values.
Now the high peace council is formed by such type of men as described above. The high peace council is mostly consisted of war lords and traditional heads. During Taliban dominance over the country, most of the high peace council members resisted Taliban in wars and were defeated. A large number of high peace council member’s have had been involved in past civil wars. They committed crimes including killing, torturing. Teasing and in making people get refuge. Therefore almost there is no trust between peace council members and people. It is hard to predict that the Taliban will trust peace council members. So it seems that the high peace council can’t make progress in the reconciliation process as is already a waste with no concert achievement. The Afghan High Peace Council, with its non-innovative members, has no clear initiatives regarding the peace process since its establishment.
The wide illegitimacy of the government due to notorious corruption at the public bureaus has complicated the peace process with the people’s concerns. Corruption causes as an epidemic disease. It hurts both sides the officials and the people with mistrust and disputes across all the provinces. Particularly where it joins the doubts based on a choice of support from the people between the government and Taliban in the vulnerable areas. Thus the public illegitimacy due to corruption dose degraded the government’s influence on people. So it helps the Taliban to pose as an alternative, especially in some part of the south. This process affects the peace talks, at least look incredible.
To come on the Taliban, it is a political, fundamental and ethnic group also rival neighbor’s puppet struggling to capture the power through violence. The insurgent movement once dominated Afghanistan in 1996 then after 11-sept-2001 attacks on international trade centers due to housing Osama bin- laden in Afghanistan was ousted by the US-led NATO attacks on the country. The ousted movement from power owns an extremist Islamic ideology. Its ideology is based on a system of strict interpretation of Islamic principles. This ideology is better than any school of teaching because it is related directly to the God. The government that they struggle to apply is something which is applied in the very past by Prophet Mohammad’s successors. According to this fundamental taught Human rights and other new norms lead the people astray. Thereby Taliban is an ideological movement with a mass public support in the south, including particularly Pakistan and the middle EST. Years of Saudi Arabia’s investments in religious centers in the Afghanistan’s neighbor states have provided the opportunity for mass acceptance of the ideology. On the other hand the Afghan government with the international support lacks a rival ideology at least to challenge the extremists. Or to offer as an alternate one among the masses to defuse Taliban’s al- Qaeda related extremist visions. That is why it is hard to begin to compromise on fundamental issues with an ideological insurgent group.
At the regional level, the rival neighbor’s conflicting interests have joined the insurgency matters. So it needs a regional mechanism that can facilitate adopting a regional dialogue to manage matters of regional issues. It is probably possible via a realistic approach based on precise recognition of regional interests’ matters. This is what which is invisible in the efforts during the years of struggle regarding peace deal. The Afghan officials in coordination with India “Pakistan’s foe” once put pressure on anti Afghanistan Pakistan. Next time it is called that Afghanistan and Pakistan are twin Muslim brothers, it is said that in case of a war between Pakistan and US Afghanistan stands with Pakistan. Another time Pakistan is called troublesome on the path towards peace reconciliation progression. So, contradicting expressed by Afghan officials. It seems that Afghan officials follow a traditional approach which is out of date. The method that long before it has been approved non-functional. While it looks that through multilateral cooperation based on regional harmony and integration, matters more positively will be managed. Absence of a realistic approach has much troubled Afghanistan’s peace process and in the months ahead it is also predictable.
Coming to the main point, traditional clerics and tribal heads in the history of politics in Afghanistan haven’t played a positive role. They consistently have a look at the back side of the history. So the high peace council is the same both in vision and in action. Despite strong calls by the government for peace deal there is yet no welcome from insurgent groups except escalations in day-to-day violence. Still there is no sign of hope on the rebel groups for consensus. The government is under pressure because of Widespread corruption in the government bureaus. The citizens lose confidence in the government. There is no interest regarding the peace process in the regional states. Thus it seems that no concert result is visible for the reconciliation deal.
Mohammad Yasin Sultani is a writer of the Daily Afghanistan Express