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Lok Sabha TV Insights: Afghanistan government – Taliban Peace Talks

Lok Sabha TV Insights: Afghanistan government – Taliban Peace Talks

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09/07/2015

Peace talk between Afghanistan and Taliban was held at Islamabad in which both leaders agreed to engage in future for Afghanistan’s peace. Meeting was also attended by American and Chinese diplomats as observers. Unity Government in Afghanistan led by Ashraf Ghani has been encouraged by US and China to engage with Taliban in face of calibrated withdrawal of US forces.

Just few days back Afghan’s parliament was attacked by Taliban in which intelligence alleged involvement of Pakistan’s ISI. Strangely, soon after this Intelligence units of both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that calls for intelligence sharing and coordinated counterterrorism operations. It is widely known that Pakistan has been providing sanctuary to Taliban Fighters, including their leader Mullah Omar. Further, Deadly terror group Haqqani Network is from long time carrying terror activities, drugs and arms trade in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that both Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network are close to highest echelons of power in Pakistan.

Further, Pakistan and Afghanistan almost never in past had a cozy relationship. Afghanistan doesn’t recognize the border i.e. Durand Line right from 1893 when it was demarcated by British. Federally Administered Tribal Area or FATA, which Afghanistan claims, lies on Pakistan side of Durand line and is inhabited principally by Pashtun Tribals. This is the area in which most of the anti- Afghanistan or Pro-Taliban or even Anti Pakistan terror groups operate.

Pakistan’s establishment has done hardly anything to win the confidence and trust of Afghans. Afghans are much aware that Pakistan doesn’t want them to be a democracy or even pursue an independent foreign policy. India enjoys immense goodwill among Afghans. Some surveys indicate that Indians (or India) are trusted by Afghans more than any other nationality. In this scenario, a democratic government will obviously be Pro- India as was the case with Hamid Karzai. This doesn’t fit well with their policy of ‘Strategic Depth’ under which Pakistan must have Afghanistan on its side in case of aggression from India. Otherwise Pakistan can face war on two fronts when its resources don’t permit war even at single front.

However, present establishment is Afghanistan under Ashraf Ghani seem to be bowing before Pakistan and Taliban. Ashraf Ghani believes that peace in Afghanistan is only possible with cooperation with these both parties, which is true to much extent. Other case might be the political insecurity of Ashraf Ghani. Last elections in Afghanistan were anything but fair. That the compromise was arrived between him and Abdullah Abdullah is another thing, but he must know well that he doesn’t have pure legal democratic mandate to rule Afghanistan. So he might be counting on these powers for his political survival.

It is believed that Taliban is no more a homogeneous group, at least ideologically. One faction is willing to enter into peace process, while other led by Mullah Omar wants to stick to Jihad and some of its commanders are looking upto Islamic State to further their personal ambitions. Few of them have already defected to IS and some others may follow. With all this it is highly likely that IS with gain footprint in Afghanistan. On other hand, peace process with a mere faction of Taliban will not take negotiators anywhere.

US have burnt its fingers badly in Afghanistan and is now seeking a face saving exit, while preserving its long term interests. Other regional countries mainly China and Pakistan are trying best to turn tide in their favor. China believes that its Uyghur insurgency in Xinjiang can only be curtailed through cooperation of Taliban and Pakistan. This attitude is deplorable as this provides incentives for ambitious powers to use terrorism as tool for diplomacy. Further, economic interest of China is also there as they have invested in Iron ore and oil sector.

India and Afghanistan entered into a ‘Strategic Partnership Agreement’ future of which is doubtful in current scenario. India has so far invested about $ 2 billion in Afghanistan, much of which went in social sector. India is perhaps only country to invest so much in social sector without any quid pro quo. India should actively pursue its strategic interest and continue to expand its foothold in the country. Political relationships are temporary and India has bigger relation with people of Afghanistan which doesn’t change with change of rule.

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