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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Islamabad Parleys to give Fresh Impetus to Stalled US-Afghan Talks

There is a plan in place for US troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan and ending an almost decade long war. But criticism came as the US was about to hand over the power to the ones who masterminded 9/11 and now the US is not left with many choices. Pakistan's options are even more limited.

The US foreign policy is a function of its domestic public opinion, strategic priorities of its defense establishment and geopolitical imperatives. Post 9/11 intervention in Afghanistan war partly the result of securing national security of the US. It is more than 18 years that US troops are still fighting an ugly war and the theatre has not been wrapped up despite promises by Obama and the current Trump administrations.

There is broad bipartisan support in the US for ending the Afghan war. The public also wants to end the war. But how to end it is a matter of debate.

There are young men and women who were born after 9/11 and now still serving in Afghanistan, it is going for that long. A desire and fatigue for the US  troops to come home; there is a genuine desire to end the war.

The US policymakers want to reach a settlement with the Afghan Taliban but also they tend to ensure the national security considerations are met and can not allow Afghanistan to go back to old ways. This is an important thing for the US.

Islamabad can not do more than what it is already doing though Pakistan can benefit greatly from any peace deal.

Behind the now-stalled negotiations, generally, the plan was to get real commitment from the Taliban that there is no militancy and al Qaeda operating out of Afghanistan and launch an attack on the US and any other country. This framework was placed in the talks. However, the pressure on the Trump administration came in how come the US wants to hand over Afghanistan to the same group (i.e, the Taliban) who were involved in the 9/11 incident.

Yet the US has run of comfortable choices on wrapping the Afghans war theatre.

A lot of what happens will be driven by the facts on the ground. President Trump has his own style: he can easily come back tomorrow; his negotiating tactic may change if there are some ceasefire agreement in negotiations.

It was hard for President Trump on the eve of 9/11 anniversary to say the US had one serviceman killed in Afghanistan whilst the talks were on and Washington was on the verge of a deal with the Taliban.

However, all stakeholders have to keep trying as all get benefits even the Taliban will get benefits.

There is a huge appetite in the region for peace and sentiments are there for the success of the Taliban and US agreement. Even China has many shared goals: peace, settlement, and development are integrated.

Read more: Afghan Taliban in Islamabad: Pakistan’s Role in Regional Peace

The author is not convinced that Pakistan can persuade the Afghan Taliban for a ceasefire agreement before they strike the US and intra-Afghan deals. Islamabad can not do more than what it is already doing though Pakistan can benefit greatly from any peace deal.

Notwithstanding these hiccups, all parties should keep trying to get over these challenges.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan, and ex-adviser to the Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with BBC World Service. He is also Chairman of Centre for Geo-Politics & Balochistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.