Home News Analysis Geneva after Moscow Conference: US & Russia competing on Afghanistan?

Geneva after Moscow Conference: US & Russia competing on Afghanistan?

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News Analysis |

U.S Principal Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs, Alice Wells, was on the official tour to Pakistan on 6-7 November. During her stay in Islamabad, she held meetings with finance minister Asad Umar, several senior officials from the ministry of foreign and interior affairs and also the Director General of Military Operations.

The purpose of the meeting was stated as “review key items on our bilateral agenda, including the upcoming Geneva Conference on Afghanistan and joint efforts to advance the Afghan peace process”, in the statement which was issued afterward. The conference in Geneva about the long-term sustainable peace in Afghanistan by the end of this month is expected to be attended by more than 60 states.

The Afghan forces on their own are not capable enough of dealing with the threat. It has led to the extraordinary cooperation between Russia and the Taliban against the common enemy in the form of ISIS.

Recently the United States has been pushing for a political solution of the Afghan turmoil with even more vigor. The principal secretary of state Alice Wells which visited Pakistan recently also held series of off the record meetings with Taliban representatives in Doha before being replaced with Zalmay Khalilzad.

Moscow Conference on Afghanistan

A high-level conference regarding the future of Afghanistan will kick off on 9th of November in Russia. Among other regional stakeholders, including India, Pakistan, and China, the conference would also be attended by a Taliban delegation.

The Taliban spokesperson has stated that the Moscow meeting is not about the Afghan peace talk, hinting at the persistent deadlock between the group and the U.S over the legitimacy of the Afghan government.

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“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, rather it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation,” Mujahid asserted.

Initially, the Afghan government distanced itself from a peace conference spearheaded by Russia. But as per the sources, a delegation comprising individuals from Afghanistan peace council, the supreme religious body overseeing the negotiations with the Taliban, would also attend the conference.

Russia is primarily concerned about the regional and homeland security which has been under threat because of the ISIS in the region. The Afghan forces on their own are not capable enough of dealing with the threat. It has led to the extraordinary cooperation between Russia and the Taliban against the common enemy in the form of ISIS.

It is crucial for the incumbent government to keep the situation favorable and maintain the balance. First and foremost concern remains the internal security condition which is pegged to Afghanistan and its stability.

Not only the Taliban, but the mutual interest has also drawn the cold war rivals, Russia and Pakistan, close to each other at the same time ringing an alarm bell for the United States and to some extent, India too.

American Efforts to Champion the Peace Process

The Geneva conference is an extension of U.S efforts to bring the stakeholders on board regarding the U.S led peace process and the post-U.S face of Afghanistan. It has become increasingly important for the United States of America not only to find a way out of Afghanistan but at the same time keep the strategic interest intact.

Letting Russia be the backer of the peace process is ultimately going to result in the loss of strategic positioning which the United States was aiming to establish since long in order to maintain proximity with its rival China.

Read more: Is the Cold War between Russia and the USA over?

The U.S efforts to look up for the bilateral trade avenues and revitalize the economic ties with Pakistan– as evident from the meeting between the finance minister and Alice Wells followed by the briefing which stated the same – are an outreach approach to keep Pakistan under the wings.

Though the extent to which Pakistan can prove to be vital for the U.S interest in bringing the Taliban to the terms is debatable, the fact that Washington still feels so is actually something which Islamabad can work around to secure its own interests.

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It is an unorthodox moment where Pakistan as a state is weighing the benefits of possible cooperation with both the major global powers, unlike the past where the foreign policy was always U.S slanting. It is crucial for the incumbent government to keep the situation favorable and maintain the balance. First and foremost concern remains the internal security condition which is pegged to Afghanistan and its stability.


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