Afghanistan: A Graveyard — Can There Be Peace in Afghanistan After US Withdrawal?
With US and Taliban back at the negotiating table, the dream of peace for the Asian country could soon be realized. However, the future looks bleak unless some very important questions are answered.
The Kabul government has to be made a party in the peace negotiations
Afghan government has to be made part of the peace process. Unless the Afghan Government is not taken on board the peace would not prevail and there would be a looming threat of another bloody civil war in Afghanistan. So, the Afghan government has to be taken on board completely in order to carve out some sort of understanding and to reenact the political system. Afghan Government and the Taliban must sit at the table, discuss the political scenario, and reach an agreement over how to move forward with governing the country. Seth Jones from the Center for strategic and international studies points out that, “The longer the Afghan government is held out of the direct negotiations, the larger the problems I think it encompasses. When you look at past successful negotiations, you had to have governments sit down with insurgents to hammer out the vast majority of details. Until that happens it’s hard for anybody really to say that the prospects for a peace settlement are high” (Jones). The peace deal wouldn’t be a peace deal if the Afghan government isn’t involved. In fact, it would just be a decoy for the US to get out of Afghanistan. In order to make the peace deal a success, the Kabul regime and the politicians must overcome their differences, and then talks with the Taliban should take place, which doesn’t seem likely in near future. Journalist and Academic Dr. Dawood Azami said, “I think the next phase (intra Afghan dialogue) of talks among the afghans will prove more challenging than the first (Taliban-US dialogue)”.
Resolution of Gender and human rights issues
Secondly, beyond the security situation there lie, if not less, but equally important issues of gender equality and human rights. Afghanistan has been more than a conservative society with regards to women's rights. Women's rights are very limited; the provision has deadly implications when a dispute is brought before a Jirga. Taliban have been known to have draconian laws with regards to human rights and woman rights in the past. Some sort of inroads has to be made in order to guard against the future prospects of human rights offenses, after the country is evacuated.
Disunity amidst Taliban, ethnicities and other domestic players
Thirdly, Taliban must get all the factions on board. The fragmentation among the Taliban must subside for peace to happen. If a peace deal is signed, Taliban must get all their factions to sign the deal in order to avoid factions going rogue and causing more conflict. Furthermore, the politicians and other domestic players also must be on the same page including minority ethnicities like Hazara, and so on.
Regional powers and neighbouring countries must be taken on board
Fourthly, the interests of all the neighboring countries must be taken into account. Countries like Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan and so on, being in close proximity are closely linked to Afghanistan having a lot of influence in Afghanistan historically and politically, and whatever happens in Afghanistan, they remain direct recipients of it. Reconciliation with the Taliban is an issue that affects more that Afghanistan. It has regional implications: the interests of all the neighboring countries need to be taken into account before any major political adjustments can be made.
One can assume that the road to peace building in Afghanistan is long and shaky, and the fate of Afghanistan rests on a spike. The process of peace building must be catalyzed and it should be quick and swift in order to dwindle the continuously increasing death toll. A power vacuum will be created after the departure of the US from Afghanistan. If all the factions start fighting for that power vacuum, the country would once again fall into the abyss of unending conflict and civil war.
A Failed Afghan Peace Deal
Seth G. Jones Harold Brown Chair and Director, Transnational Threats Project, Center for Strategic and International…