Kabul Process: Afghanistan’s refusing to admit the buck stops home

Kabul Process
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News Analysis |

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani officially opened the one-day peace conference on Afghanistan named as the “Kabul Process” today. The conference in which representatives of 25 countries including Pakistan, USA, Russia, and China are participating, aims to find plausible solutions to worsening security and stability in the country.

The conference is being held days after a massive blast jostled the capital and resulted in the death of 150 people.

President Ghani delivered the opening address to the participants and said that Afghanistan is a frontline state in the fight against terrorism.

Taliban carried out two attacks on military installations in Kandahar last month claiming the lives of 25 soldiers.

Ghani extended an olive branch to the Taliban and implored them to join the political process. The proposal by the president comes at a time when it is becoming increasingly obvious that the state apparatus has been unable to stop the resurgence and intrusions of the Taliban. Apart from attacks across the country on soft targets, the Taliban continue to breach the defenses of the Afghan Army.

Read more: Reactions and repercussions of the Kabul attack

The Taliban are holding about 58% of Afghan territory and are attacking Afghan and foreign forces with impunity. After the deadly attack on 209 Corps headquarters in April which claimed lives of 150 Afghan soldiers, the Taliban carried out two attacks on military installations in Kandahar last month claiming the lives of 25 soldiers.

However, the president chose to ascribe everything on Pakistan, a country who was participating in the conference.

He said, “Afghanistan is suffering an undeclared war of aggression from Pakistan”. He questioned Pakistan in his address. “What will it take to convince Pakistan that a stable Afghanistan helps them and helps our region?”

President Ghani expressed his distress and anguish on the motives of Pakistan. “Our problem, our challenge, is that we cannot figure out what it is that Pakistan wants,” he said.

Ties are being severed with Islamabad as Kabul is upping verbal diatribes against it. While ignoring a massive security lapse, the Afghan political and military leadership squarely blamed Pakistan for the attack in the highly-secured diplomatic arena last week.

At a time when Ghani is trying to elicit cooperation from other countries in solving the Afghan puzzle berating Pakistan and putting the entire buck on it defies logic.

“Pakistan is the key planner of this incident like in the past, but our security team is investigating the incident and these investigations have not been completed,” Tolo News quoted interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Interior, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supplied the Haqqani network with explosives to conduct the bombing in Kabul that killed over 100 people.

Ghani further explained his point and called upon the international community to give justice to the Afghan people since terrorism flout the very concept.

Read more: What halts India & Afghanistan from making peace with Pakistan?

At a time when Ghani is trying to elicit cooperation from other countries in solving the Afghan puzzle berating Pakistan and putting the entire blame on it defies logic. It is noteworthy to point out that over the past few years Kabul’s jingoism has been met with Islamabad’s policy of restraint and appeasement.

Pakistan’s benign efforts for peace

Over the course of the past few months, Pakistan has preferred to engage the Afghans diplomatically rather than militarily. Though, it had gave a calibrated military response to the border violation in Chaman – for which it received a lot of criticism within Pakistan – since it took lives of innocent civilians and Pakistani security personnel as well as opening up similar logic for the Indians to do the same. Despite recent obduracy from the Afghan side in claiming two Pakistani villages namely Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir, Pakistan opened the Chaman border on humanitarian grounds.

Despite provocative statements and muscle flexing Pakistan time and again tried to engage with Afghanistan at various levels. A military delegation headed by the Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt Gen Bilal Akbar visited and discussed matters of military cooperation with the Afghan counterpart in April. This was followed by DG ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar’s visit to Kabul. Apart from interactions between the military and intelligence leaderships, Pakistan tried to engage with them at the political and diplomatic levels. In a meeting with the Afghan National Security Adviser, the adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, tried to address Afghan complaints and offered cooperation in all matters. Besides, Pakistan actively took part in the Moscow-led initiative about finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan conundrum. These overtures were given despite the fact that Afghanistan’s soil is being used by forces inimical to Pakistan.

Afghanistan should take Pakistan’s offers of cooperation in good stead. It has to realize that the capabilities of the Afghan security forces and the other state organs are weak as compared to that of the Taliban or the ISIS.

Despite all these efforts, though, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected the invitation to visit Pakistan. He called upon Pakistan to take actions against subversive forces. The narrative given by Ghani today is an old and oft-repeated one and will most likely be vociferously reiterated as the announcement of a new US policy is impending.

Read more: Pakistan & Afghanistan: Victims of each other?

Afghanistan should take Pakistan’s offers of cooperation in good stead. It has to realize that the capabilities of the Afghan security forces and the other state organs are weak as compared to that of the Taliban or the ISIS for that matter. An admission of a failed policy will be the first step on part of Afghanistan to begin a peace process.

Ghani’s offer to the Taliban is good and much-needed. However, Taliban’s war-waging capability has got a new bite and with them being a more potent political force than the fractured and tenuous government, it is difficult to bring them on the talking table. The US top spymaster also recently expressed fears that the deteriorating security profile will likely to degenerate further in 2017. In his World Threat Assessment Report Director National Intelligence Daniel Coats said “Kabul’s political dysfunction and ineffectiveness will almost certainly be the greatest vulnerability to stability in 2017. ANSF performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, ANSF combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support, and weak leadership. The ANSF will almost certainly remain heavily dependent on foreign military and financial support to sustain themselves and preclude their collapse.”   Notwithstanding, an Afghan owned peace process is indispensable and so too is Islamabad’s support.

 

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