Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen
Afghan Writer and political Analyst based in Kabul
It is quite clear that unless the US has accepted a schedule for the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan and unless it prefers a sincere peace with the Taliban over war, peace in Afghanistan will be unlikely, war will perpetuate and in case of the prolongation of the war, the Afghan-American war strategy will remain unclear for a long time, and the Afghans will pay the price.
Dr. Ghani’s administration has succeeded to alter international community’s opinion regarding peace with the Taliban in a negative way and have convinced the international community or maybe due to their war-centered strategies they argue that the Taliban want to solve the Afghan issue through war and are not prepared for negotiations.
On 4 July 2017, head of the US Senate’s defense committee John McCain, during a press conference said, that the most powerful nation on earth (the Americans) had to win the war in Afghanistan.
John McCain also added that they (the Americans) must suppress the Taliban to the extent that they (the Taliban) come to think about losing the war and then the political solution and talks must start.
I (Writer) remind John McCain that two nations (Turks and Afghans) have never accepted salvation and have not submitted to any country’s pressure and power, exception Islam.
Before this, Dr. Ghani has repeatedly warned the Taliban and have used threatening rhetoric against them. In his remarks, Ghani has announced to the Taliban, it is their last chance, if they did not come to the peace negotiations, they would be killed and eliminated.
Sometimes, the leaders of the Afghan government ignore the acquaintance and say that there are various groups among the Taliban and they do not know with which group they should conduct talks. Finally, in some government meetings, they say that now IS-K is getting stronger, it is not necessary to beg and ask for peace with the Taliban, they say that the Taliban must be weakened through pressure and war and must be brought to the negotiation table by force.
Based on John McCain’s scheme, under the US observation, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s military will conduct joint operations against terrorist on the two sides of the Durand line. These operations will further complicate the war and will force the youth of a particular ethnic group to choose war over peace.
The governmental Afghan peace process was not started on the basis of peace, but it was aimed at the armed surrender of the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami and, to a greater extent, the issue of creating a source of income and financial corruption for warlords and for their amusement cannot be ignored either.
Hazrat Sebghatullah Mujadadi and reconciliation
After the US had come to Afghanistan, during Sebghatullah Mujadadi’s reign, the formation of peace and reconciliation started (16 March 2005), and a budget was specified for it. However, some people in the government and outside it brought some unknown people with a hundreds weapons and they would surrender to the government under the name of the Taliban, and thus large sums of money were wasted.
Through Commander Didar, Sebghatullah Mujadadi’s son Zabiullah Mujadadi contacted the Taliban, and after six months the Taliban were told that the US did not want peace in Afghanistan.
On 9 May 2005, during a press conference, Mujadadi called on all groups including the head of Hezb-e-Islami and the Taliban to join the peace process and said that the peace doors were open for them.
The spokespersons of the then President Karzai and the US forces rejected the remarks of Mujadadi and expressed concern in this regard. On 11 May 2005, Mujadadi said that the media had distorted his comments and that if Mullah Mohammad Omar and Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar joined the peace and reconciliation process, the nation would decide whether to forgive or punish them.
Since Sebghatullah Mujadadi was from a religious family, a Jihadi leader, and the first president during the Mujahedeen regime, he was pushed by the US toward reconciliation and thus remained stuck in the corruption.
Since the former Jihadi leader of the religious family of Hazrats (Naqshbandi), and the first president of the Mujahedeen government cheated or the US did not want peace, this process was defamed and became full of corruption.
On 5 September 2010, the High Peace Council (HPC) was established, and the former Jihadi Leader Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani who had fought with the Taliban was appointed as a head of HPC. The members of the High Peace Council were also warlords who had previously fought with the Taliban.
Hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted in the HPC. This council did not have any remarkable achievement. Ustad Rabbani and his respective Jamiat-e-Islami party were taking advantage of the HPC’s money, and even some former Commanders remained silent against the money they received from HPC, and they would not deliver anti-government remarks. Even the relatives of the HPC members in Pakistan and Iran received money under the Taliban’s address.
Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani and HPC
From 5 September 2010 to 20 September 2011
Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani understand and want to start serious talks with the Taliban, but he killed in his house by a person under the name of the Taliban.
Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani had demanded from Mohammad Zaman Muzammel to join him and sincerely work for peace. Rabbani had asked him to arrange a meeting with the former Taliban Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef and Mawlawi Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil.
Some unconfirmed reports suggest that Rabbani had a meeting with unknown people in Lugar Province at night. However, it is not clear who were they and who had facilitated this meeting.
In order to ensure Jamiat-e-Islami’s share in corruption in the government, Prof. Rabbani was appointed as head of HPC by the US. The highly religiously educated scholar, the leader of Mujahedeen, and the second and last president of the Mujahedeen was from the Tajik ethnic group. He only cared about his personal interests and the interests of his party, while spending an unaccountable budget of HPC. At first days of his work, he used to bring his former Commanders in front of the media and would introduce them as those who have joined the government, and there was vast financial corruption in his administration.
Prof. Rabbani failed, or the US did not allow him to enter the primary process of peace with the Taliban or Hezb-e-Islami. During his tenure, the HPC did not have any achievement. After the death of Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, his son, Salahuddin Rabbani, took his place (15 April 2012 to 1 February 2015). When Salahuddin was head of HPC, some members of HPC participated in those international conferences ( Japan and Paris) where the representatives of the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami were present. Later, these international peace conferences were banned by the Ex-President Hamid Karzai.
Peer Sayyed Ahmad Gailani and HPC
21 February 2016 to 21 January 2017
When Dr. Ghani became head of the National Unity Government (NUG), he considered himself committed to peace. This time a member of the religious family of Qadderia (Sayeds) and the former Jihadi leader Peer Sayed Ahmad Gailani was appointed as head of HPC. Gailani was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Mujahedeen regime but did not carry on with it. After his support from the imbalanced and inglorious security agreement with the US (on 30 May 2014), he was appointed as head of HPC by the US.
Peer Sayed Ahmad Gailani did not have executive authorities. Approximately two years before the appointment of Gailani as head of HPC, with the consent of the US, some European countries had begun talks with Hizb-e-Islami about joining the Afghan government.
Some members of Hizb-e-Islami had advised to the leader of Hizb-e-Islami that he must go to Kabul through any possible way and reach a consensus with the Afghan government over a peace agreement. Therefore, based on the decision of Hizb-e-Islami the peace deal between Hizb-e-Islami and the Afghan government was signed, and, in this regard, head of the Security Council Mr. Hanif Atmar, Head of the National Directorate of Security Massoom Stanekzai and Ghani’s trusted advisor Akram Khepelwak played a significant role.
Karim Khalili and HPC
After the death of Peer Sayyed Ahmad Gailani (21 January 2017), one day before the Kabul Process Conference (6 June 2017), the former Jihadi leader, the Second Vice President of Karzai during his two terms of presidency, the deputy of HPC during the NUG, Karim Khalili was appointed as head of the HPC. He was chosen by the international community and participated the Kabul Process as head of HPC. On 2 May 2017, an official ceremony was organized in the Afghan Presidential Palace to introduce Ustad Khalili.
Historically the custom of Jirga and reconciliation in the region are rooted among Pashtuns, and among the people of Loya Paktia and Nangarhar are really talented in Jirgas and negotiations Pashtuns. However, most of the time, the major tribal fights were settled with the mediation of tribal leaders and by Peers (sort of religious scholar) and Hazrats.
Neither during President Ghani nor Karzai’s term, a Pashtun was appointed as head of HPC, nor have these two Pashtun Presidents undertaken efforts for a genuine and endurable peace in the country.
This time unlike the historical background, the political leader of Shiite ethnicity group Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of our Shiite brothers, is appointed as head of HPC, while the Sunnite Taliban are fighting the war against the Afghan government and NATO.
I think Khalili’s appointment as head of HPC is an excellent choice and I do not oppose it. Peace does not occur anyway nor is the US ready for real peace yet.
Once a reliable source quoted Hamid Karzai speaking in a meeting, “One day after official meetings with the former King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah, in violation of the diplomatic norms, he asked me to go to his personal car saying that he could not find any safer place to talk because he said there could have been intelligence tools in the buildings and other places and that therefore, he wanted to say it to me in his private car. King Abdullah said that ‘You (Karzai) demanded from me for several times to help in the Afghan peace process. We are tribal people and understand the value of such demands, and we believe it to be from our heavy responsibilities. I honor your voice, and I always think about it. I had to answer. But the reason behind a negative response or lack of cooperation in this regard is that it is evident to me that the US does not want peace in Afghanistan. Therefore, I want you not to put such responsibility on my shoulders again.’”
If Allah persuades Ustad Khalili to undertake sincere efforts for peace and if Khalili gets achievements in this regard, he will be fulfilling a historical responsibility. It will be a historical pride for Shiites and especially for Hazara ethnic group among the Afghans. I hope that our Shiite and Hazara leader will prioritize peace and fulfill what Hazrat, Peer, former Tajik Jihadi leaders and the two Pashtun Presidents (Karzai and Ghani) failed to fulfill. There are hopes that if Ustad Khalili made efforts in this regard and undertook measures through legitimate ways to bring peace, the pages of the Afghan history will be turned and a Hazara brother will fulfill through Jirgas and meetings what Pashtuns would fulfill throughout the history.
In 1828, when Iranian troops sieged the Herat province, the Mohammadzai leaders of the time (the friends of Amir Dost Mohammad Khan) were helping Iranians against Shah Mahmood Khan. At that time our Hazara brothers stood beside Shah Mahmood Khan against Iran and freed Herat from Iran’s encirclement.
If Khalili selects some priorities for the peace process:
First: how should the US be convinced to withdraw from Afghanistan and how can HPC (the Afghan government) and the US reach an agreement about a proper schedule for the withdrawal of the foreign forces because the Taliban believe foreign troops to be the main reason for the perpetuation of the war and say that if the appropriate schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops were announced, they would declare a ceasefire and will immediately start talks with the Afghan government and politicians.
Second, during Karzai’s Presidency, he opposed with the presence of the Taliban’s representatives in the international conferences, and after Japan and Paris meetings, such meetings were stopped, and only the Pugwash Organization held two conferences in Qatar.
When Dr. Ashraf Ghani came to power, he totally banned such conferences, and the Afghan government does not agree with countries to organize such meetings where the Taliban’s representatives are present. Even after the second Pugwash conference in Qatar, the chances of holding another meeting seems unlikely.
It will be a success for Khalili if he convinces the Afghan government and the foreigners to allow such meetings where the representatives of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar can participate.
Third, the announcements that are made through the media regarding the peace process are totally anti-peace slogans, which are prepared and funded by NATO and other secret organizations and, in this regard, if Khalili can pay attention to their peace related slogans in the media and decrease anti-peace remarks, it will be a success for him.
The characteristics of Karim Khalili
Ustad Khalili has the experience of Jihad with the Soviet Union, civil war, and 16 years of work with the international community. He is a calm person, knows his authority and powers very well, uses his authority and powers in the proper time and proper way, has a vision, is not shortsighted, is an educated, thoughtful and cautious personality, unlike some other Jihadi leaders, has not used harsh rhetoric against the Taliban in the past 16 years and neither in the past nor in the day of the announcement of his appointment as head of HPC, has not made remarks about the Taliban’s surrender or any harsh rhetoric. Therefore, due to the above-mentioned characteristics of Ustad Khalili, he may succeed to resume the halted process of peace.
According to some information, Ustad Khalil’s representative met the Taliban’s representative in the Qatar office in last September and before that when 30 Hazara individuals were abducted by Uzbek IS-K fighters, the Taliban had helped his representatives after he reached an understanding with them.
The Hazara ethnic group consider Ustad Khalili as the successor of Ustad Abdul Ali Mazari, and after the safe return of Hazara youth abducted in Zabul as a result of Khalili’s efforts his political influence has increased among Hazaras. Therefore, he will have the backing of his ethnic group in the peace process.
Ustad Khalili is someone who, unlike other Afghan officials and leaders, is not very much interested in dollars. That is why Ustad Mohammad Mohaqiq separated from him so that he could get Iran’s money as a leader of Hazara ethnic group.
Another characteristic of Khalili is that, unlike some other Shiite leaders, has not had complicated intelligence relationships with Pakistan and Iran. It is believed that he only had political relations with them and even during his fight with the Taliban, he needed Iran’s weapons and, therefore, was obliged to received weapons from Iran. Ahmad Shah Masood also received military and financial aids from Iran as well.
If Ustad Khalili took the three points mentioned above into consideration, and work for specifying a schedule for the withdrawal of the foreign forces, paving the way for the Taliban’s presence in the international conferences and preventing anti-peace remarks in the media, we and other Afghans peace activist will offer our help without demanding any position or privileges.