Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen
Afghan writer and political Analyst based in Kabul
On January 11, the first meeting of the quadrilateral coordination group of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the U.S. on Afghan peace and reconciliation was convened in Islamabad. The remarks of Hekmat Khalil Karzai, the senior Afghan negotiator, after the meeting, were against peace, and he, once again, called on the Taliban to join the government peace program or the mentioned countries would jointly eliminate them; the government peace program still demands the Taliban to surrender.
On January 18, the second meeting of mentioned four countries convened in Kabul, in whose opening, the Afghan minister of foreign affairs, Salahuddin Rabbani, called on the Taliban to put their weapons on the ground and join the government peace program which, in fact, was, again, a call for the Taliban to surrender.
Before and after the both meetings, the Afghan politicians in their TV discussions, interviews and articles have not considered these meetings as “hopeful” regarding peace; several analysts were suspicious about Pakistan’s honesty in the peace process; some others were also saying that the Afghan government is yet to have a clear policy regarding the peace and it does not have commitment and will for peace, either.
Distrust on Pakistan
Generally, the Afghan nation and politicians distrust on Pakistan’s peace-related efforts; there are only Afghan senior government officials that talk about Pakistan that it can bring the Taliban to the negotiation table by force, and, inside the government, there are still several numbers of mid-level officials that are suspicious about Pakistan. Perhaps, the reason that the Afghan senior officials link the hopes for peace to Pakistan would be that they do not have another alternative. They are yet to be ready to talk with the Taliban directly, without any foreign mediator, and discuss about the issues related to peace and war; because they originally believe in surrendering, not in peace negotiations. The raw belief that the Afghan government was following since fifteen years; in the case, it has not have any outcome!
The Afghan politicians and diplomats wrote about the quadrilateral meetings; the Ex Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef was among them, he was afraid of that these meetings are convened for prolonging war not for providing peace, and for discussing the war plans. He, clearly, expressed his doubt regarding the will of the Afghan government in the peace process since 14 years.
The political expert, Ahmad Saeedi had thought that Pakistan had influence on the Taliban; however, he, after meeting the Pakistani authorities and politicians in a peace-related conference which was held in Islamabad on the first week of January, think that Pakistan wants privileges in the name of peace; it demands the Durand Line to be officially recognized by the Afghan government and, meanwhile, it wishes Afghanistan to provide it with the privilege of transport to the Central Asia and in order for Afghanistan to rescue itself from the influence of India. Pakistani officials and politicians claim that President Ashraf Ghani, in the beginning of his government, somehow had accepted these demands, Saeedi further added. Saeedi’s talks with Pakistanis and change in his idea are remarkable. Saeedi still believes that Pakistan does not have control over the Taliban.
The U.S. Ex ambassador to Afghanistan, Khalilzad also considered the peace-related meeting in Islamabad as unhopeful efforts.
The Peace Process and Recent Incidents
Some incidents before, after and during the quadrilateral meetings happened that increased distrust; rush on Indian Consulate in Mazar-e Sahrif, attack on Pakistani Consulate in Jalalabad City, assault on the house of Afghan diplomat in Peshawar, arrest of 4 Afghan security forces by Pakistani intelligence in Karachi, attack on PachaKhan University students n Charsada, Peshawar, Pakistan.
There was obvious disagreement between Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on the foreign affairs to Pakistani PM that was leading the Pakistani delegation and Hekmat Karzai, the head of Afghan delegation; after the Islamabad quadrilateral meeting, Sartaj Aziz said that neither the military measures nor military response should be taken against the Taliban; however, Hekmat Karzai said, if the Taliban did not become ready for peace, they would be eliminated.
Meanwhile, the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad, Janan Mosazai said that ISIS fighters are crossing into Afghanistan from the Pakistani soil.
On the same day, the second quadrilateral meeting was held in Kabul on January 18; the speaker of Meshrano Jirga (the Upper House of the Parliament) said that those who do not make peace should be killed. We do make peace with those who want peace, but what kill those who fight with us, he said.
The entire process and slogans of the Afghan government since last 15 years contain the agenda of making the Taliban to surrender, it is what which has not resulted in all these years and, perhaps it would not be possible for the Taliban to surrender under the name of peace.
Talks with the Taliban
As long as the Taliban are not talked to directly and their demands are remained unheard and they are not considered as a main side of war, the peace talks, perhaps, would never result. The Afghan government still does not consider the Taliban as a party of war and instead of that, it wants to show Pakistan as a side of war which the Pakistani officials consider it as harmful for their country. The Afghan government is still not ready to accept the truths, meaning that the time for denial is passed and that the time for profession is reached. America, which is a main player of the war, accepted the ground truths of Afghanistan, and it solved the problem of its prisoners directly with the Taliban instead of referring it to Pakistan; however, it is the Afghan government only that insists on its position.
America, to a large extent, listens to the Afghan government and supports it; it also warns about extension of war; President Obama, after the Islamabad meeting, said that Afghanistan would be the battlefield of war against terrorism in the upcoming one decade, and David Petraeus said that NATO will increase its bombarding in Afghanistan; on other hand, the American and British forces are actively engaged in war against the Taliban in Helmand; and the Taliban said that reengagement of American forces in the war will stall and mislead the peace talks.
One thought, position and policy regarding the peace is yet not to be seen in the Afghan government; the disparities between Ghani and Abdullah are yet to become to an end, and since two months the second vice-president, Gen. Dostum is not seen in the media and official government meetings; it is said that he is dissatisfied with the power which Ghani has provided him with.
Several such unilateral meetings were held in the last 10 years and sometimes, they were even powerful than latest quadrilateral meetings, however, the main side of the war was intentionally kept away from these meetings. As long as the demands and concerns of entire parties involved in the war are remained unheard, these meetings would be considered just as they unsettle the nations’ minds and keep them busy.
America is the country, which rushed on Afghanistan by establishing a great coalition, the Afghan government is burden on the Afghan nation by the U.S. and Pakistan is one of America’s allied that stood on its side when it was attacking on Afghanistan, it provided its airfields to America and the American aircrafts were taking off from Pakistani soil and was bombarding the Taliban’s targets.
Mediators OR parties to the War?
Three of the countries (America, Pakistan and Afghanistan) can be considered as parries to the war, it is OK that China still consider itself as “impartial” but the interests of Pakistan are more important than and has priory to China in compare to the interests of Afghanistan; therefore, it can be said that every peace-related plan that is being built in presence of these countries would be harmful to the Taliban and it would be in interest of the Afghan government and it would cause Pakistan to receive a lot of privileges because both America and China has close friendship with Pakistan and they want Pakistan to have political influence in the region and they want Afghanistan to be under Pakistan’s area of influence.
If we enter another war on the name of peace, America, China and the Afghan government accept Pakistan’s demands and the deal is made on the Durand Line; if only the Afghan government accepted it or the Taliban along it accepted it as a result of some pressures, indubitably, we would enter a new and long war; the Afghan nation would stand against the Afghan government and Pakistan and it would become sacrificed as a result of the raw decisions of the Afghan politicians, and a new war in the name of peace would be started, then.
The will of President Ghani is doubted because both Pakistan and Ghani are acting in accordance to America’s instructions, both of the countries cannot make independent decisions in the Afghan peace process without the confirmation and demand of America; therefore, the Taliban are supposed to discuss some of their problematic issues directly with America.
Lack of Government’s Commitment
The former foreign minister, Mawlawi Ahmad Mutawakkil said that I, before the Presidential Elections, had a meeting with Ashraf Ghani and had asked him that whether he prefer a lot of money with war or poverty with peace, meaning that if you want money, you should deal with the international community and continue the war, but if you do not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States (BSA), you will not have money but definitely you would have peace; Ghani’s answer was war with money, meaning that he neglected peace!
Afghans still remember the past experience of Pakistan’s peace, when it, despite disagreement of some Jihadi parties, dealt with Russians on behalf of them; it was also a quadrilateral meeting at that time, America, Pakistan, Afghanistan and former Soviet Union were participated in it in 1988; the difference today is that the former Soviet Union is replaced by China. It is due to Pakistan’s avarice and America’s incorrect policies that we are engaged in war for more than 27 years, which has also caused America and several other European Countries to become involved in the Afghan war and to become regretful and lost, then.
China is supposed to not lose the trust of Afghans, and if Afghans recognized that China stands on the side of Pakistan and it supports America and the Afghan government in providing privileges to Pakistan, indubitably, Afghans would lose their trust in China as it did about Pakistan, and it would not be easy for China to regain the trust of Afghans, then. As China wants to start economic projects in the region and play an important role in it, so, China is supposed to keep its neutrality and treat the entire involved sides in the war same.
Need for Truthful Efforts
America still can end the Afghan war with full responsibility, by stopping supporting the Afghan government, starting truthful peace talks and becoming committed to fundamental solution of the Afghan issue, not by pushing Afghans to initiate war with its neighbors in the name of peace or continue struggles increasing disparities between Afghanistan and make them to fight for other nine years.
I hope for the U.S. government to stop dissimulating the American nation with untruthful peace process, I hope for the Afghan government to consider the pathetic situation of the Afghan nation and do not keep them busy with sham promises regarding the peace process, I hope for Pakistan to remise the decision of achieving privileges from the Afghan war and I hope for the mentioned countries and our other neighbors, regional and international partner to jointly struggle for providing a truthful and lasting peace in Afghanistan in order for the dark period of long war to be eliminated from the house of the Afghan nation.