Pakistan is likely to be put under pressure after US President Elect Joe Biden takes office in the Afghan Peace Process as Biden is looking for more concessions from the Afghan Taliban.
Sources told the Express Tribune that Biden’s team has been in direct contact with Pakistani officials on talks about the Peace Process since before the elections.
Pakistan provided a briefing to the Biden team on the way forward. The new administration is expected to diverge from Trump’s policy on Afghanistan by demanding more concessions from the Taliban prompting Intra-Afghanistan talks.
Read more: Joe Biden’s position on Afghanistan
Afghan peace deal
The US is set to draw down approximately 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and around the same number in Iraq by January 15 against the advice of the nation’s top military officials. Currently, Afghanistan has approximately 4,500 US troops.
Experts and people in Afghanistan fear that a vacuum created by the US will give rise to growing violence and another possible civil war.
Pakistan will continue to play a significant role in the peace talks as it has since February of this year.
On February 29th of this year, to maintain and achieve Afghanistan’s long-term political and economic stability, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar, titled the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan also known as the Afghan Peace Process.
The deal calls for withdrawal of all American and NATO troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban pledging not to prevent the Afghan soil to be used against the US and its allies. Intra-Afghan talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are also a part of this deal.
However, since the deal’s inception there has been little progress on the intra-Afghan negotiations with talks coming to a stalemate.
The deadlock was broken on Saturday as the Afghan factions met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Doha. The outcomes of the talks have remained confidential.
The Taliban negotiated release of prisoners, removal of names from UN black list and insisted on implementing the Doha agreement.
The Afghan government on the other hand said in their meeting with Pompeo they called for an end to violence preserving Afghanistan’s achievements. “Concerns of members of the peace delegation about the increase in violence and the US support to the Afghan peace negotiations, which is a common goal, were discussed,” said Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan’s representative.
The Afghan peace deal also saw a build-up when Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Afghanistan last week.
US Special Representative Zalmay Khalidzad said in a statement “We welcome and are encouraged by the positive development in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. If implemented, it provides an opportunity to move forward on peace and development in the region.”
He lauded Pakistan’s efforts in peace building saying “We also welcome Pakistan’s commitment to work for a reduction of violence and a ceasefire in Afghanistan.”
Imran Khan stated that he will help reduce violence and push for a ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan forces.
Despite, the efforts to minimize the violence and policies taken towards it, the region has seen more violence since the withdrawal of the US troops.
The Afghan government last week announced over 1,200 civilian deaths in 53 suicide attacks and 1,250 explosions in a span of six months at the hands of Taliban.
The way forward
New developments in the Afghan peace process are to increase Islamabad’s role. When Biden becomes president, he will push the Pakistan and Afghanistan government towards negotiations with Taliban.
Unlike President Trump, who supports full withdrawal of the American Troops, Biden will likely place a small faction on Afghanistan’s soil, a move which will face opposition from the Taliban prompting a halt in further substantial developments in the Afghan peace process.