News Analysis |
Taliban and the United States of America once again have engaged in the second round of formal dialogue process in a bid to bring peace in Afghanistan after years of chaos and bloodshed. The inclusion of the Afghan government was a major stalemate in continuation of the process which, apparently, has been overcome.
After a first successful meeting between all the major stakeholders in the United Arab Emirates, the second round was scheduled in Riyadh but the Taliban refused to attend it, also demanding the venue to be reinstated to Qatar, amidst pressure from the Saudi government to accept the Kabul regime as a legitimate stakeholder.
Pakistan along with other regional countries, China and Russia to be specific, has been sharing the concern that the United States of America is not planning to leave Afghanistan, at least not entirely.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said: “Following American acceptance of the agenda of ending the invasion of Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from being used against other countries in the future, talks with American representatives took place today in Doha.”
The group has earlier even threatened to pull out of dialogue after it felt that the United States was still trying to bring in the Afghan government to the table. After this development, U.S special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad came to Pakistan on a 5-day long trip and reports suggested that an effort was underway to arrange a direct meeting between him and the Taliban in Islamabad, but latter categorically denied any such development.
However, Zalmay Khalilzad did acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts toward the peace process in Afghanistan, “We’re heading in the right direction with more steps by Pakistan coming that will lead to concrete results,” he had tweeted after concluding Pakistan trip.
Just completed #Pakistan leg of my current trip in the region to advance the peace process. Good meetings. I appreciate their hospitality & resolve to push for Afghan peace. We’re heading in the right direction with more steps by Pakistan coming that will lead to concrete results
— U.S. Special Representative Thomas West (@US4AfghanPeace) January 20, 2019
Pakistan along with other regional countries, China and Russia to be specific, has been sharing the concern that the United States of America is not planning to leave Afghanistan, at least not entirely. The apprehension was underlined in July last year when there was a backdoor dialogue process underway between U.S state department official Alice Wells and representatives of Taliban.
In a recent attack on a military base, more than 100 people are reportedly killed including 8 personnel of elite commando wing of Afghan National Army.
Reuters reported on account of Taliban delegate that the United States has demanded that it would be allowed to keep its bases in Afghanistan functional after its forces formally withdraw from the country. There has not been a response from the U.S regarding the merits and agenda of the meeting which took place in Qatar. Provided that it is true, it is certainly a blow to the long term strategic regional interest of the United States.
Another Win for Taliban at the table
The insurgent group has been securing key strategic grounds in the battle against the Afghan forces. In a recent attack on a military base, more than 100 people are reportedly killed including 8 personnel of elite commando wing of Afghan National Army. Western media now extensively reports of nearly half of Afghanistan under the control of Taliban and even more under the influence or vulnerable.
Knowing exactly the strategic upper hand, Taliban had demanded that venue for dialogue must be shifted back to Doha and categorically demanded that nothing except withdrawal of U.S forces and long term peace will be discussed. Apparently, both the demands have been accepted which emphasizes leverage they have in the ongoing process.
As of now, both sides seem to agree with “fight and talk” strategy which is in effect right now. But given that operational military presence of United States is minimal, it is poorly equipped and trained Afghan forces and non-combatant civilians who have to take the brunt until the issue gets resolved.