Afghan turmoil & solution


In wake of turmoil and hostile situation in Afghanistan, a new development emerged on Wednesday when Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to take part in peace talks to “save the country” while simultaneously calling for government-to-government talks with Pakistan “for peace”. He offered this while speaking at the 2nd Kabul Process Conference attended by representatives from more than 20 countries and international organisations. He also offered that the Afghan government will provide facilities and security for those Taliban who join the peace process and will consider the Taliban’s view in the peace talks. A resurgent Taliban has been blamed for much of the increased violence in Afghanistan since United States and Nato forces concluded combat missions in 2014. The attacks have underscored the weaknesses of Afghan security forces. In light of this offer, Afghanistan will reportedly present detailed peace offer to Taliban and Pakistan on behalf of the Afghan people. Earlier, Ashraf Ghani offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group, as part of a proposed political process that could lead to peace talks aimed at ending more than 16 years of war. At a meeting on Wednesday of nations involved in the so-called Kabul Process, aimed at building a platform for peace talks, Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners, saying he would be ready to accept a review of the constitution as part of a pact with the Taliban.
The development arrived less than 48 hours after the Taliban called for direct talks with the US to find a “peaceful solution” to the conflict in Afghanistan, in an apparent policy reversal after months of escalating attacks. The Taliban called for direct talks with the US to find a “peaceful solution” to the conflict in Afghanistan, in an apparent policy reversal after months of escalating attacks. Civilian casualties surged in recent months as militants from the Taliban, as well as Daesh group, unleashed a wave of bloodshed in urban areas and on security forces in response to a new open-ended military policy by US President Donald Trump. In a statement posted late Monday, the Taliban said it “calls on American officials to talk directly to the Political Office of Islamic Emirate regarding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary,” using its official name. There has been no response to the offer from US officials, who have historically insisted any talks must include the Afghan government in Kabul. The call for talks comes a day before the second round of a regional peace conference in Kabul, where representatives from 25 countries will discuss counter-terrorism and conflict resolution strategies. The Taliban published an open letter to the American people and the US Congress earlier February, suggesting the insurgents may be ready for talks.
The apparent openness to negotiations is unusual for the militant group, which has repeatedly stated that it will not enter talks until foreign troops leave the country. Unveiling his new Afghan strategy last August, Trump said the US presence in Afghanistan would remain open-ended, as Washington stepped up strikes on militant strongholds.
In January, Trump ruled out holding talks with the Taliban, after a spate of assaults in Kabul.
The Afghan president’s offer to make peace with the Taliban is unlikely to have any immediate impact on the militants or the direction of a war in which civilians are being increasingly targeted in complex, well-coordinated attacks. Ashraf Ghani’s call for a cease-fire and his proposal to recognize the insurgent group as a political party may ultimately say more about his own beleaguered position and the intractability of a conflict now in its 17th year than it does about his ability to come up with a new strategy that has a realistic chance of success. He knows the Taliban have always refused to acknowledge his administration, and the government of his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, as legitimate brokers in any peace negotiations. He must also surely suspect that this stance will not change now that the militants are openly active in 70 percent of the country, according to a recent BBC study. For years the militants have said they are willing to talk – but only with American officials. The US toppled its regime in 2001 and continues to station 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. As far as the Taliban leadership is concerned, the last two Afghan presidents have been little more than Washington’s puppets.
The “Kabul Process” meeting was an Afghan government-led initiative with stakeholders to find lasting peace in the war-torn country, including the contours of engaging with Taliban outfit. This is the second such meeting of the Kabul Process and is taking place amid stepped up prospects that the elusive TAPI gas pipeline connecting Turkmenistan and India through Afghanistan and Pakistan could be taking shape. The first Kabul Process conference was first held in June last year. Regional defense officials ended a two-day conference on security in Afghanistan on Wednesday with a joint pledge to combat terrorism in the face of rising attacks by Taliban and Daesh affiliates. The meeting was hosted by the US military, which has stepped up attacks against Taliban fighters, suspected Daesh affiliates and militants from central Asian countries in the northern parts of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province. Gen. John Nicholson, Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and of US forces in Afghanistan, took part in the meeting along with army chiefs from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. But defense officials from three other regional nations, Russia, Iran and China, which have objected to the US military’s presence in Afghanistan following the ousting of the Taliban in late 2001, were not present.