News Analysis |
Afghan Taliban representatives have met with the U.S officials for the first time in a formal setting in UAE to discuss the future of Afghanistan; process facilitated by Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan has helped in the dialogue between the Taliban and the United States in Abu Dhabi and assured the country will do everything to further the Afghan peace process.
“Pakistan has helped in the dialogue between the Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi. Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people,” the premier tweeted.
The stalemate in the backchannel dialogue was finally broken due to extensive efforts of Pakistan and the broad scale inclusion of all the parties which have had the historic relations with the Taliban.
He assured, “Pakistan will be doing everything within its power to further the peace process.”
Pakistan has helped in the dialogue between Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi. Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people. Pakistan will be doing everything within its power to further the peace process.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 18, 2018
The meeting was made possible via the mediation of Pakistan after the continuous requests from the United States of America, which also includes the letter from President Donald Trump to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Other than the direct stakeholders, representatives from Pakistan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia were also present during the talks. The representation of the Afghan government was missing as Taliban have stood firmly on not talking to the Afghan government, whom they call US-backed puppet regime.
The meeting was confirmed by the Taliban spokesperson via Twitter and the U.S state department representative through a formal statement. “We have long said that the war in Afghanistan will only end when Afghans sit together with mutual respect and acceptance to discuss a political roadmap for their future,” the spokesperson said. “Special Representative [Zalmay] Khalilzad has in the past met, and will continue to meet with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict.”
Pakistan to the Rescue
Despite all the derogatory tweets and statements from the U.S officials particularly the U.S President Donald Trump, Pakistan has once again facilitated the dialogue process depicting the commitment of the country toward long-term peace in the region. However, it is not the first time that an elaborate effort was sponsored by Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the table. Back in 2015, a round of dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government was held in Murree. A process sabotaged by the U.S Predator drone strike on a vehicle which was carrying then Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
After the change of leadership since the strike, the new leader of the insurgent group Mullah Hibatuallah Akhunzada was initially reluctant to push forward with the dialogue process. The group has already faced internal strife during Mansoor’s time, therefore the Taliban focused on the belligerent in the battlefield.
Given the support and facilitation of Pakistan toward the process, it is very important the United States regards the efforts and commitment of Pakistan instead of making it the scapegoat of its failure every time.
After a series of success and loss of territory to the Taliban, the United States government initiated a backdoor access with Taliban via Qatar where they have political representation. The stalemate in the backchannel dialogue was finally broken due to extensive efforts of Pakistan and the broad scale inclusion of all the parties which have had the historic relations with the Taliban.
The United States is pursuing a concrete understanding with the Taliban before the Afghan Presidential elections in the coming year. However, it remains to be seen that to what extent they would be successful in convincing the Taliban who are against the concept of a government other than themselves in the first place.
The content of the meeting was not made public by either side, neither has been an indication as to how frequently both the sides are going to meet to speed up the proceeding if the U.S is to grab something substantial before April, the month of Presidential elections. Nevertheless, the meeting itself is one of the most crucial developments, which has increased the likelihood of peace in Afghanistan sooner than later.
Given the support and facilitation of Pakistan toward the process, it is very important the United States regards the efforts and commitment of Pakistan instead of making it the scapegoat of its failure every time. Trust between both the nations is the key for the success of the efforts and sustainable regional peace.