By Hafeez Hasanabadi
Until the end of the Taliban government in 2018, US officials were calling the Taliban terrorists and had ruled out any possible negotiations with them. Then suddenly their narrative has changed and they started talking with the Taliban. Before proceeding to the discussion, it is necessary to answer two questions first. So that we can try to express accurate analysis about the importance of their result. The first question is: Which power has withdrawn from its demand before starting negotiations? Second: Which power stand where today?
In reply to the first question, that much can be said that the Taleban have not withdrawn even inch from their demands but dozens of Taliban leaders were released in Pakistan Afghanistan according to their [Taliban] wishes. They were issued visas and supported. The USA, however, not only back off from its demand without any valid reason but in a hurry, the USA did not even take into confidence its allied Afghan government and the Afghan people. Due to which an atmosphere of mistrust between the USA and its [Afghan] allies has occurred. The Afghan leadership was expressed their concerns and reservation on Media.
However, the mutual understanding between the Taliban and its ally Pakistan are so strong that PM of Pakistan indicated to be a stakeholder in all future endeavours of Pakistan and even suggest an interim government in Afghanistan; the Afghan authorities regarded his remarks as interference in their internal affairs and expressed their anger.
As for as the second question is concerned, again the position of the United States and its allies are not any better because despite spending billions of dollars in the war, America could not bring permanent peace in Afghanistan, nor was any grass root political party made during this period who could counter the challenges that the country is facing, narrow the gaps between society and different nations. Neither was the warlords made to follow the rule of law or who [the party] could take a clear stand against Pakistan which is destroyed peace in Afghanistan. So, nobody made an effective formula to prevent the killing of American and allied soldiers and the suppression of Baloch and Pashtun with American money. The American support was also not used to strengthen Afghanistan’s army and make them capable of defending themselves with US support.
If one compares the military strength in 2001, the number of Taliban was around 45,000 in 2014 their number grew to 6,000 and now it is estimated that they are 100,000. On the diplomatic front, they have succeeded to convince or force the world powers to directly or indirectly hold negotiations with them; even those who previously disagreed to hold talks with the Taliban. Their success in his diplomatic and military front can also be easily assessed that the United States could not them from bloodshed even when the negotiations were taking place.
Perhaps some observers have expectations from this negotiation but in reality, these talks were nothing but surface misleading the international forces and buying more time for the Taliban, Pakistan wanted the US to come to the negotiating Table to achieve its own interests. Pakistan’s main aim was to soften the US standpoint against Pakistan because their relations had strongly deteriorated. Firstly, Pakistan was on the verge of being declared a terrorist-sponsoring state and under immense international pressure. Secondly, Pakistan had been internationally isolated. So, to avoid the isolation Pakistan had no other option but to support the USA or at least to show the US that it was serious in mediating between America and the Taliban. Thirdly, Pakistan had nearly become economically bankrupt. It was impossible to get a loan and support from the IMF and the Gulf States with the blessings of America. Fourthly, Islamabad was restless because of the internal issues and the possibilities of unity between Baloch and Pashtun against Pakistan. Hence, to deal with these tensions it was necessary to reduce either internal or external pressure.
The real rulers of the country [military] had realised that if the internal and external pressure remains constant, the country could suffer unexpected situation at any time. The Pakistan rulers knew that a clear vision was needed to decrease the internal instability and they knew it was not possible without the US support. In the view of above-mentioned reasons, Pakistan played the drama of these negotiations. There are also some other reasons based on which it is safe to say that these negotiations would not help bring peace in Afghanistan and the rest of the region.
1. In its entire history, the USA was in a very weak position for these negotiations. Pakistan and its intelligence agencies, Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS jointly wanted to bring the USA to its knees and force come to the negotiation table. Initiating positive change on the international level in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Georgia, and Venezuela has resulted in unimaginable failure and disappointment. On top of that now ISI an added problem as thousands of its members after their defeat in Syria, Iraq and other fronts are now gathering in Zhob and FATA from where they’re slowly entering in Afghanistan and spreading to different regions. These are a sign of a disastrous situation in Afghanistan and the start of a new bloody conflict.
2. These were taking place according to wishes of Pakistan which are designed to defeat the USA and prove the Afghan government as inferior and incompetent. The Taliban had declared the elected Afghan government that also has the backing and support of America as ‘a puppet government’ and refused to negotiate with them. America cannot demand to negotiate with Pakistan instead of the Taliban despite the fact that America on several occasion called Pakistan and terrorism-sponsoring country. If the Taliban are not ready to talk with the US supported Afghan government, then why is the US instead of directly negotiating with Pakistan is talking to the Taliban who travel around with Pakistani passports?
3. The US is looking for a way out and to abandon Afghanistan whereas the Taliban are planning new ways to take control of Afghanistan. First, if the USA cannot encourage its ally [Afghanistan] to be part of negotiations. Once they leave from here [Afghanistan how can they support or provide relief to Afghans? All those who are allies of America at present, tomorrow they will be punished with this alliance. The Afghan history is not only self-sufficient in his horrific examples but it will further aggravate with the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
4. It is a matter of concern that Taliban (Pakistan)-USA negotiations have not only excluded the Afghan people but in future also there is no proper formula to include them. The gesture of unofficial meetings between the Afghan government official and Taliban representatives are only to fulfil formalities. Because, if the negotiations went ahead according to conditions of the Taliban then there will be no place for the Afghan government and their supporters apart from fully surrendering before the Taliban and Pakistan or prepare for a new war.
5. The Klaq government (People government) and the Soviet Union (USSR) has a mutual understanding at the time of USSR’s withdrawal from Afghanistan whereas there is no such understanding between the USA and allied forces. The USSR left the Afghan people helpless whereas America who has a presence in Afghanistan is acting like the Soviet Union. It means Afghanistan left behind by the USA will be worse and face more problems than Afghanistan that the Soviet Union left behind.
6. 6. It is extremely incredible and surprising that Pakistan is once again betraying America. Pakistan has succeeded in convincing the USA that as per America’s wishes Pakistan will create hurdles in CPEC for China and delay the work on CPEC to limit the influence of China. In return, it asked America to let it [Pakistan] bring a government of its choice, which will protect the interests of the United States but will also prevent the potential influence of Russia in future. We will discuss this issue in more detail in our next article ‘Pakistan Plan to expel China from CPEC’. The US naivety will push the Afghan into another war which will have far-reaching implications on neighbours especially Central Asia, Russia and India could be affected by terrorism and the drug trafficking will also increase in the region.
7. The biggest disadvantage of talks with the Taliban is that this country [Afghanistan’s] peace, development; the self-rule has never been part of Pakistan’s policy. Because, if there is no terrorists and terrorism then how can Pakistan sustain its importance? Hence, terrorism has now become Pakistan’s state policy. If Pakistan really wanted peace in its neighbouring countries then in the past make the Mujahideen keep the pledge they made inside the holy land of Khana Kaaba in the name of holy Quran. But, later created a war between them, weaken them to make the Taliban.
The current situations are worse than the past because at present Pakistan is engulfed in economic and political crisis, and had reached the verge of bankruptcy. In such a situations Pakistan is not in any position to play a positive role in Afghanistan as compared to its competitors India on top of the list because of his dozens of billions dollar development projects. That’s why Pakistan has no other option but start a war against India and others in Afghanistan and it [Pakistan] has already done her homework for this purpose.
If unexpected peace negotiations succeed then after the withdrawal of American forces Pakistan will pit the Taliban against each other to pave the way for its previous Mujahideens and Daaesh (ISIS) in Afghanistan while the ground is already ripe for Taliban-US negotiations. Apart from the representatives of the current government, all other forces agree on one point that the US should withdraw from Afghanistan at all costs so that they can bring intensity to the ongoing war. On the other hand, the bloodshed in Afghanistan will not stop because USA unstable policies need to be completely changed which have now failed in any way due to which the USA takes one step forward and is forced to move four steps backwards. Instead of peace and stability, the chances of bloodshed are increasing in the world.