Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen for Veterans Today
Afghan writer and political Analyst based in Kabul
The Afghan government did not confirm or deny reports of the meeting. Meanwhile, Sohail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Political Office based in Qatar, denied talks with Masoom Stanekzai, head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS); however, he did not denied the talks with U.S. and the Afghan government.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied secret talks with Masoom Stanekzai and the Afghan governmental official, while he did not deny talks with Americans.
Sources close to the Taliban, however, said that the talks between the Taliban and the U.S. are going on since February 2016. Meetings have been held with both sides and it is possible that some contacts would be made with the Afghan officials in this period, also.
Perhaps, the Taliban would have discussed about the withdrawal and/or the withdrawal timetable of the foreign forces during the meetings with American as well as Afghan officials. It is thought that the withdrawal and/or the withdrawal timetable of the foreign forces would be more important to the Taliban in compare to other issues.
The issues on Afghan-oriented system which would be acceptable to entire involved political and military parties, and where is there no monopoly of power, the recognition of the Qatar Office and removal of the Taliban’s names from the black list would have been discussed during these talks.
The Afghan government and U.S. would demand the Taliban to declare ceasefire, and maintaining ceasefire in the country at once seems problematic; perhaps, the other means would be also discussed in the talks, if they continue.
The ceasefire would be probably maintained in the areas and/or provinces where the foreign forces have completely withdrawn from and, then, they are declared “safe”; in this case, the Taliban fighters would stay at their own areas and the government forces would remain at their own areas; for example, if the foreign forces withdrew from Helmand, and the ceasefire was discussed on.
Such areas could be controlled by the local authorities in accordance to a balance until a satisfactory system became established. The areas that are under control of Taliban could remain with the them; and the areas where is central government located and/or in control of the Afghan governed could remain under the control of the government. Absolute and total ceasefire would be challenging.
Foreigners and the Afghan government would accept changes in the Constitution; however, they would emphasize on some articles regarding democracy, women rights, human rights, the mechanism of the government not to become changed, but its acceptance by the Taliban would be a controversial and problematic issue.
No political and involved parties would wish the complete abolition of the present government system; the mechanism and organization of this system should be remained but the necessary reforms should be brought in it.
It is said the Taliban is working on a policy on how to proceed the talks with Afghan government in the future.
The Taliban’s political office in Qatar is established for the purpose of negotiations, and the representatives of Taliban are there to carry out peace talks. As the Taliban have said in the international conferences that U.S. is their main party of war against the Taliban, so it should have face to face talks with the Taliban in order pave the way for inter-Afghani understanding eventually. Nonetheless, the Americans did not become ready to have face to face talks with the Taliban in the past. Two years ago, Japan tried to pave the way for face to face meeting between the Taliban and U.S.; however, in the latest moments, Americans said that the Taliban should officially request the U.S. to have direct talks with them, and it is what the Taliban did not accept, and the talks never happened.
Norway also provided the ground for talks; Said Tayyeb Agha, the head of the Taliban’s Qatar Office visited Norway. At first, Americans became agree to have talks with the representatives of the Taliban; however, they, again, ask the Taliban to make an official request for the talks which the Taliban never made such a request; as a result, the talks did not take place, either.
After the second meeting of PUGWASH in Qatar, a number of Afghan politicians promised that they would pave the way for face to faced talks between the Taliban and U.S.; they had several visits to America, and perhaps, they were able to convince Americans and make them to have talks with the Taliban on Afghan issue. After that, the Afghan government also sent their representatives to Qatar in order to have talks with Taliban.
The parties would, perhaps, decided to keep these talks secret in order for these talks to have a different, better result. It is doubted that the Americans would have given information on these talks to Guardian and Reuters in order for this series of talks to be stopped once again.
It would be a good improvement in the peace talks, if they were remained secret. Perhaps, these talks would be taken out to the media for two reason as stated below:
1- In order to control the severe war and weaken the Taliban’s morale that is advancing.
2- As the Presidential Elections will be held in U.S. in the next two months, and as the situation of Afghanistan (peace and war) has impact of the U.S. Presidential Elections; therefore, the Democrats want to show the American nation that there is improvement in the Afghan peace process.
Barriers toward Peace
Whenever some improvements are seen in the peace process, barriers toward them are created by internal and international actors, neighboring countries and/or America. The opening of the Taliban Qatar Office was a positive step toward peace, Mr. Karzai opposed it, and he also prevented the recognition of the Taliban Qatar Office in the Bonn Conference II. Before that, Pakistan had tried for months that the Taliban’s official office should be in Pakistan instead of Qatar; however, the Taliban leaders rejecting the Pakistan demands.
International conferences were held in Japan and France where the representatives of the Taliban were also participated in. it was planned that two members from the Taliban Leading Council and two members form their Political Office in Qatar would participate in Turkmenistan Conference; however, this conference was not given permission by the Karzai administration.
President Ghani became as closer to Pakistan as he even surpassed the diplomatic principles and attended the office of Pakistan’s Chief of Army. Peace talks became held in Pakistan’s Murree but this process immediately suspended and ended after the Pakistani media broadcasted reports on the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid.
Quadrilateral talks started; U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan held quadrilateral meetings; Pakistan had promised that it would bring the Taliban to the negotiation table but it could not do it which caused the process to become to an end.
The second meeting of PUGWASH convened, the Taliban trust on that, the improvements were made, Afghan politicians became able to pave the way for faced to face meetings between the Taliban and Americans; the ground for contacts with the Afghan government was also facilitated. Pakistan was not informed about this process, and when it became aware of these secret talks, it imprisoned some the Taliban leaders accordingly.
Mullah Ahmadullah Nani, member of the Taliban Leading Council and supporter of the secret talks, became detained; Sani Mullah Samad and Sulaiman Agha, the second degree important members of the Taliban also became arrested by Pakistan. Perhaps, this series would continue and other leaders of the Taliban would be detained or would be faced with problems. Those who desperately support the peace negotiations and consider the achievements of the Qatar Office as “positive” were faced with problems and perhaps they would be subjected to the same problems in the future.
Considering the circumstances, if Pakistan continues imprisonment of the leaders of the Taliban, perhaps, the Taliban would show a severe reaction and the consequences would be dangerous for the both sides.
The Taliban Qatar Office three members, Mavlawi Jan Mohammad Madani, Mavlawi Delawar and Deputy of the Qatar Office Mullah Abdul Sallam Hanafi arrived to Pakistan to discuss the Taliban prisoners and secret peace talk issues with Pakistani Officials.
Peace from Pakistan’s Standpoint
Pakistan wants to be involved and play an important role in the entire peace-related talks; hence, Pakistan arrests Taliban and puts pressure on them in order to secure their privileges in the Afghan peace.
We can name Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, the Taliban’s Minister of Defense, Mullah Biradar Akhund, Ustad Yaser and Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor as the victims of the Afghan peace. Moreover, 12 other individuals that were struggling for peace since last 10 years became killed or subjected to problems.
After Mavlawi Abdullatif Mansoor, head of the Taliban Political Commission initiated peace talks with Kai Eide in UAE in 2012, Pakistan arrested him very soon; and the Tayyeb Agha became announced instead of him after he already had left Pakistan.
Taliban think that the peace talks should be carried out by their office in Qatar; however, they want Pakistan and other neighboring countries as bails. On the other hand, Pakistan wants be in the center of the peace negotiations; however, for now, the Taliban have selected Qatar for peace talks.
Pakistan hopes that it would receive the privilege of decreasing Indian leverage in Afghanistan as result of Afghan peace talks as well as to completely solve the Baluchistan case, and to receive privileges from Indian and international community in the Kashmir issue.
The detention of Taliban leaders would have negative impact on the Taliban movement in short term, because their leaders would be hidden and divided; however, as the Taliban’s military leaders are inside the country, it is hard for Pakistan to have them arrested or threatened, and meanwhile, the military advancement and backwardness is determinant.
The detention of Taliban leaders is not in benefit of the Afghan government and the Afghan nation; it would, however, caused the peace process to become delayed. And it is also obvious that Pakistan does not imprison Taliban for the sake of Afghan government’s interests but it takes care of its own privileges; otherwise, it would have handed Mullah Bradar Akhund to the Karzai or Ghani’s government.
Pakistan would want peace in Afghanistan and perhaps, it would not want it; still, If Pakistan take care of America’s interests, as America follows the war policy in Afghanistan and wishes for Russian, Central Asia and China to be under threat from here and looks to carry out new war projects; in this case, Pakistan would ruminate about its ultra-regional interests and as a result, it would oppose peace in Afghanistan.
After the U.S. rushed on Afghanistan, problems in Pakistan have started to become increased day by day; disputes between the military and civilian government is increased day by day; almost the entire political parties, except of Imran Khan’s, are against the military, and reciprocally, the military also has not good ties with civilian and political parties. If peace is not maintained in Afghanistan, the abovementioned problems would increase in Pakistan, and, then, it would face a crisis accordingly.
The issue of Baluchistan is originated from the 16-years incorrect policy of Pakistan; Baluch separates/liberalists clearly call for Indian help and support; if peace in Afghanistan is not maintained, Pakistan would lose Baluchistan as time passes. In addition to that, Pakistan would not be able to solve the Kashmir issue in such a weak condition, and it would not be able to prevent the leverage of India there, either.
Peace from Afghans’ Viewpoint
The government, political parties, civil societies, rightists and leftists as well as the Taliban provide different definitions for peace and have got different proposals in the regard.
The entire officials of the Afghan government do not have same thoughts about the peace process; some of them want peace in accordance with their own interests and definition, some of them are absolutely against peace talks with the Taliban, and some of them are, however, waited for the guidance of U.S. and Great Britain. There are a few number of individuals in the government that make decisions on the peace process, and the ideas of a large number of people are not considered.
Some of the political parties’ leaders define the peace with the Taliban conditioned to the provisional government, some of the are against talks with the Taliban and some of them, however, provide thoughts and ideas that are impossible to be implemented and are even considered as obstacles in front of peace.
Civil society activists that are active inside the country only have contacts and links with some international organizations; still, a few of them are pro-peace but most of them demonstrate guarded or even, in some case, negative reaction.
Former Parchamis that are in power nowadays do not support the peace with the Taliban and Hizb-e Islami Party. Ghani has provided them with a lot of privileges and facilities and they, even, work to have the leadership of the next government. The next President would be theirs, if the U.S. and English soldiers maintained their presence on this level up to 2017. Contrary to that, most of the Khalqis support peace with the Taliban and Hizb-e Islami Party.
Former, Mujahedeen, to a large extent, have similar thoughts to each other, and they want the Taliban to make peace with the current government, with all its weaknesses, and to try to work for its reformation.
In the case, the Taliban want a type of government which would be acceptable to most of Afghans and involved parties, they, to a large extent, talk about a provisional and acting government. The Taliban want the withdrawal timetable of the foreign forces should be specified and guaranteed and the mechanism and independence of the system should be defined. Such a peace and such a system is something that most of the Afghan people wants.
Peace from U.S. and Europe’s perspective
America wants the war to be continued in the region, it would not accept the kind of peace that the Taliban proposes, until it is not come under a lot of pressure. America is stubborn about its military presence in Afghanistan, and one of its goals along the other goals of its presence in the country would be to bring the Pakistani nuclear bases under its control. Moreover, the United States would increase pressure on Pakistan and they would provide India with more leverage. China would oppose the U.S. policy on increasing the leverage of India, China would be obligated to enter the play, and hence, America would support India against China.
Most of the experts think that Russia has mutual interests with America in Syria. As America had problems with its Arab allies in the issue of destroying and dividing Syria; so it could not do it directly; as Russia has not got friendship with Arab countries, therefore, America and Russia implemented the project of eliminating the Syrian Army, and they have plan to divide Syria.
It is also a possibility that Afghanistan would be turned into a second Syria, and the way for the Russians’ interference and involvement in the war would be paved in order for Pakistan and China to become weakened jointly by America and Russia, meanwhile, Iran would also be stood on America and Russia’s side.
Nevertheless, it is also possible that Russia would oppose America in order for the project of ISIS to become prevented, and thus, Russia would launch attacks on Afghanistan as they have already done in Syria. Afghans would be harmed in any situation, and the benefit would be solely taken by America and Russia.
Some of the European countries support peace in Afghanistan but they cannot suppress the American interests; however, some of them completely prefer the American policies in Afghanistan, while America was able to threaten European countries with Russia, the Russia which was about to destroy in 1990s and America helped it to stand on its feet. America had provided Russia with a lot of economic support in order for the European countries to never become independent in their decision and neglect America.
The entire Afghans should understand that none of the foreign countries want peace in Afghanistan; neighboring countries, countries in the region, America and Russian follow their own targets.
I, as a result of holding meetings and sharing thoughts with the involved parties, Afghan politicians and the real representatives of the Afghan people, am confident that if Afghan sides were supple, they preferred inter-Afghan understanding, rescued themselves from foreigners’ inauspicious targets, struggled for lasting peace, supported the on-going struggles for peace and neglected their personal interests and greed, and preferred to work for national interests and peace instead, then, they would have received positive results and their peace-related expectations would be achieved to a large extent.