23rd September – Deadlock in Afghanistan

In a dramatic turn of events, the US President announced in a tweet on September 7 that he has called-off the secret meeting with the Taliban leaders at Camp David, and ended the peace talks with the armed group.

Deadlock in Afghanistan

Reason cited –

The killing of the US soldier in Kabul attacks by the Taliban and its relentless use of violence in order to gain more leverage in the peace talks with the US is what triggered President Trump to cancel the peace process.

Draft peace plan –

  • Under the draft peace plan, within 135 days of signing the agreement with the Taliban, the US was supposed to withdraw 5,400 troops from Afghanistan.
  • In addition to the troop withdrawal, the US had agreed to either closed down or hand over its five military bases in Afghanistan.
  • According to reports, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, were more eager to clinch a deal with the Taliban so that President Trump can “fulfil his pledge to bring home US troops.”
  • In the draft agreement, the two negotiating parties had agreed to create ‘safe zones’ in the provinces from where the US forces were supposed to withdraw. The ceasefire was supposed to be announced only in such safe zones, while in the rest of the country the violent attacks would have continued till the complete withdrawal of the US forces.
  • Another major loophole which made the whole draft agreement unsustainable in the long run is that it failed to push the Taliban to make any concrete concessions in favour of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
  • The only concession which the Taliban had made is that the armed group will cut-off its ties with the terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, and will allow the withdrawing American forces to leave peacefully. However, there is no way to gauge the sincerity of these claims.

Analysing the progress –

  • Nine former US envoys to Afghanistan, including a former deputy secretary of state, had warned the US administration in a letter that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan might result in a civil war in the country, an outcome which will be far worse than the status quo.
  • Throughout the peace process, by appeasing the Taliban with its demand of not negotiating with the elected government in Kabul, the US has already undercut the support for the Ghani government to a point of delegitimising it.
  • After the cancellation of the talks by President Trump, countries like Russia and China have asked to resume the peace process. Russia even hosted the Taliban leaders in Moscow to meet Russia’s Special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, in order to discuss the recent developments in the peace process. Even the Afghan government stated that it favours the resumption of the peace process with the Taliban, however, not without a complete ceasefire.

Way forward –

  • At this juncture, what is crucial for the US and international community is to continue supporting the Afghan government and the upcoming Afghan presidential elections. For successful intra-Afghan negotiations, it is imperative that the Afghan state is able to “govern and fight while negotiations take place, as well as a chance to sustain itself if negotiations fail.”
  • A strong central government in Afghanistan is important not just for negotiations with the Taliban but to maintain the morale of the Afghan security forces which is already paying a very heavy price in the war against the Taliban.

Conclusion –

As a time-tested friend of Afghanistan, Indian government has once again emphasised that the peace process in Afghanistan must include the will of its people. As the world’s largest democracy, India should continue to support Afghan people in their fight for peace and stability.

SourceVIF India

Also read: 21st September – The best way to reform India’s architecture of fiscal federalism

Question“Peace talks with Taliban were destined to doom since the beginning.” Analyse the statement in light of recently canceled US-Taliban peace accord.