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Afghan’s being fooled with fake peace talks

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By Dr. Florance Ebrahimi: The new Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, is faking to the Afghans that they are opening new avenues to bring peace to the war-rattled country. This time, our intellectual president has come up with a new experiment now Kabul turns to Beijing to help it bring Taliban insurgents to the negotiation table and put an end to the 13-year-war. This time it’s being shown that Pakistan is also fully cooperating for bringing Taliban to the tables to talk with the Afghan government. On the contrary Taliban spokesman denied their indulgence in any talks. The denials reflected the secrecy surrounding the negotiations as well as the unpredictability of the Taliban leadership. There are also looming fears in Afghanistan that the Taliban will launch a spring offensive in April. Afghan security forces could face severe challenges this year as they do not have as many foreign troops to tackle the crisis as they used to. But despite drafting a new security policy how to tackle this menace by our own we are going on doors of everyone begging peace will it not show our weakness. We should remember that peace is not talked with weak and if you want a long lasting peace you have to be stronger in the battlefield.

Pakistan’s military establishment indicate a transformation in relations between the neighbours following years of mutual suspicion throughout former president Hamid Karzai’s tenure. But it’s hard to believe as the Pakistani army have long been accused of fostering militant groups on both sides of the Durand Line and wanted to hold the key to any talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government. It’s a well-known fact that Taliban fighters depend on Pakistan for refuge and use Pakistani channels to obtain funds, arms and logistics. If denied refuge, they will not be able to carry on fighting in Afghanistan. When the Afghan government looks overexcited for these proposed talks the Taliban is giving them cold shoulders. The Taliban would like to prepare for complex and lengthy talks involving legal and ideological issues, and would be keen to first take into confidence their field commanders and foot soldiers. This may be the reason why they have been denying that they are willing to talk but first they want to consult among themselves. Moreover, the Taliban is aware that they gain much of their strength and credibility from being a resistance movement and when the talks are framed incorrectly, it could damage that image. The problem is President Ashraf Ghani is not taking the Afghan people into confidence and even not clearing the air of confusion on the framework of the talks and what will be on the agenda for talks.

The Taliban have split into different factions since their former regime’s leadership went into hiding after the Taliban were toppled by US-backed Afghan forces in 2001, as part of a US effort to hunt down al-Qaeda leaders behind the September 11 attacks on the US. Afghan sources say the Taliban is a divided group and that Pakistan capitalizes on this fragmentation by keeping the various parts of the Afghan Taliban from coming together to negotiate with the Afghan government as a united group. Even if talks are opened, it is unclear whether the Taliban’s leadership is united enough to end the fighting. Pakistan wants to hold the key to Afghan peace so that they can use the Afghanistan in its strategic depth game and manipulate it to serve its vested interest. One example of double-dealing by Pakistan came in September 2013, when Pakistan’s government announced the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar from prison. Mr. Baradar, a cofounder of the Afghan Taliban and a senior military commander, was arrested in Pakistan in 2010, reportedly with support from US intelligence. Members of the Afghan High Peace Council met with Baradar in Pakistan in November and sources close to the process said Baradar may hold the key to stopping the war, given his seniority. He ranks second only to Mullah Omar, the group’s spiritual leader. However, communication with Baradar has been suspended Afghan officials say that Pakistan put him under house arrest in order to curb his dealings with Kabul.

Recently Former Pakistan President General Musharraf said that the ISI trained the Taliban after 2001 to undermine the Karzai government dominated by India’s supported non-Pashtuns. We should learn from our past experience and take control of our house rather than depending on those people who are responsible for our sufferings and chaos in our country. President Ghani put many important issues in the garbage can during the last four months. Since September 2014, no major breakthrough has been visible on the ground, particularly on the security front. He has failed to present a comprehensive security plan to parliament or his own cabinet. He never consulted politicians, former jihadist leaders, important military commanders and the governors of provinces on security and foreign policy issues. Mr. Ghani has to understand that Afghans won’t accept a foreign planted peace process. Afghan leadership must realize that agreements brokered by outsiders in the past have pushed the country to civil wars, like the 1993 Islamabad Accord which failed to work. Our President should realise that the inclusion of a few inactive Taliban in the Afghan cabinet cannot stabilise the country and he before going for any peace talks with Taliban should take whole country into confidence and disclose his roadmap for peace rather than going for secret talks.

(The author is an Afghan doctor currently living in Sydney, Australia. She can be reached at drfloafghan@gmail.com)