A lesson for the US

Published: May 28, 2016
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The writer is a reporter at The Express Tribune

The writer is a reporter at The Express Tribune

The killing of the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in an American drone strike on May 21 has almost murdered the hopes for peace in the region. Many in Pakistan and Afghanistan believe that the Obama Administration has been naive to kill the Taliban leader and then simultaneously ask the group to settle matters on the negotiation table. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had the same message for the American and Afghan leaderships in October last year — Pakistan was prepared to help revive the stalled Afghan peace talks but cannot force the Taliban to negotiate against their will. The question remains: who will convince the Americans that it might help their cause if they listened to others? The US should directly take the blame this time for decreasing drastically the likelihood for the peace process to go ahead and succeed. It needs to contemplate whether its use of military might over the past 15 years will some day be able to solve the problem in Afghanistan or will it exacerbate it. Does the US think that the killing of the Taliban chief will force the new chief to surrender? This will never happen as policies will not be made by Maulvi Haibatullah alone. The Taliban Rehbari Shura or the Leadership Council will also play a role in this regard.

Does the US expect Pakistan to help its cause while it continues to rain missiles on Pakistani soil, and that too in Balochistan where the country is in the process of implementing a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor? The drone attack has also raised serious concerns over the expansion of the US secret drone campaign into Balochistan. Pakistan’s National Security Council is scheduled to meet soon to mull over a strategy to deal with the emerging situation following what is seen as an aggressive posture by the US to deal with the Afghan issue.

The Americans will have a hard time justifying the drone attack, as there are many who think this action will further complicate diplomatic efforts to encourage the Taliban leadership to sit face-to-face with President Ashraf Ghani’s regime. Just weeks before the US action, a beleaguered President Ghani had himself shut the doors on the peace process. Afghans need to understand that Pakistan, China or any other country are not responsible for violence that occurs within Afghanistan and that the key to resolve matters lies only with Washington and Kabul. They need to pave the way for a political dialogue with the Taliban. Pakistan and China can only try to convince the Taliban to use the political option or offer a venue for the talks. The concessions that have been demanded by the Taliban can only be granted by the US and Afghanistan. It is not for Pakistan and China to decide on the reopening of the Taliban office in Qatar; it is not these two countries that have the power to release Taliban prisoners; it is not their responsibility to move the UN Security Council to remove travel curbs on Taliban leaders. All these concerns have to be addressed by the US and Afghanistan.

On May 26, the US State Department’s spokesperson asked the new Taliban chief to join the peace process at a time when the group was mourning the death of Akhtar Mansoor. However, for the Taliban, the first priority would certainly be to normalise the situation within the group and address the impact of Mansoor’s killing on their activities. Their focus would remain on reorganisation as they have now elected two new leaders in less than a year. The Taliban would also be focusing on developing a strategy that ensures that the death of their leader does not have negative implications on the ongoing fighting season.

Their new set-up also includes Sirajuddin Haqqani as the first deputy chief as well as Mullah Yaqoob, the elder son of Mullah Omar. They are expected to take a tougher stance over the peace process compared to Mansoor, according to Taliban leaders. Maulvi Haibatullah may only prove to be a symbolic leader with the real powers lying with Haqqani and Yaqoob. Taliban leaders close to Haibatullah say that it would not be an easy task to convince him to look into the option of entering a political dialogue. Therefore, the US and other stakeholders will have to ponder over their options before again trying to force the Taliban to join the peace process through drone strikes.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Srinath
    May 28, 2016 - 12:46AM

    The headline ” In defence of Afghan Taliban” would have done greater justice to this piece,”US needs to understand……Afghanistan needs to understand…..” But even China is at a loss to understand what Pakistan is up to? Its time for Pindi boys to wake up & smell the coffee.Recommend

  • khattak
    May 28, 2016 - 12:51AM

    Taliban are loosing credibility by the day. The Amir ul Momineen should have been elected by people of Afghanistan inside Afghanistan as they claim to control 80% of Afghanistan & are legitimate Emirate. Unfortunately the more TTA get its strength the more TTP will become challenge for us. Recommend

  • Paul
    May 28, 2016 - 1:07AM

    Until OBL got killed next door to Kakul Military Academy, the word going around was that no one in Al Qaeda wanted to be second-in-command because it was a given that he would be targeted by the US and perish in a drone attack. Seems like the same situation, only this time the leader of the Taliban is doomed. And by the way, in case you didn’t know, the US doesn’t care a chit what the Taliban think.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    May 28, 2016 - 2:13AM

    Hmmm, the author curiously has never criticized the Afghan Taliban for continuously launching terrorist attacks while the “peace effort” was in motion!
    The author should print out the RULES were the Afghan Taliban can kill during “Peace Efforts” but the Anti-Taliban forces cannot attack them!Recommend

  • Greg
    May 28, 2016 - 2:16AM

    “The killing of the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in an American drone strike on May 21 has almost murdered the hopes for peace in the region.”

    Not true. If Pakistan continues her current actions/choices with no course correction, the theater of war will more likely move from Afghanistan to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Pnpuri
    May 28, 2016 - 8:07AM

    The policy of good and bad talibans is still being followed by Pakistan . While Pakistani talibans are bad, the Afghan talibans are good.Recommend

  • Ashraf ali khan
    May 28, 2016 - 8:23AM

    After all what is the lesson for the US?Recommend

  • Pnpuri
    May 28, 2016 - 9:01AM

    ‘ it is not these two countries that have the power to release Taliban prisoners; it is not their responsibility to move the UN Security Council to remove travel curbs on Taliban leaders” so that snakes are allowed to roam unhindered.Recommend

  • ahmed41
    May 28, 2016 - 10:07AM

    If men find a COBRA, they kill it.Recommend

  • imran ali
    May 28, 2016 - 10:23AM

    the days of free lunch and double game is over.Recommend

  • Carol Grayson
    May 28, 2016 - 11:44AM

    US needs to understand the baseline… Taliban state on a daily basis there will never be peace while US troops are in the country. US is so arrogant they only want peace on their terms. Afghanistan was allegedly an illegal war in the first place according to some lawyers. America is wasting the lives of young men and being seriously embezzled by corrupt officials… 2 billions dollars meant for security lost. Security situation is worse than ever as anyone who follows their daily operations can see, Taliban are stronger than they have been at any time since 2001. America seems set now to destabalize Balochistan into the bargain. (It would no doubt suit US to have and independent Balochistan strategically that they could manipulate)….Time for US to have a serious rethink or peace will remain an unachievable dream!.Recommend

  • May 28, 2016 - 1:14PM

    Sorry correction… security embezzlement in Afghanistan should read 22 billion dollars nor 2… Recommend

  • jay
    May 28, 2016 - 1:27PM

    a lesson for the author ” please re educate your self from a good school ” your Axcat degree is no good. Recommend

  • syed & syed
    May 28, 2016 - 2:30PM

    Pakistan should not live in illusions. Different gangs of plunderers working separately in the name of Talibans.US have understood the fact and kill the head of a bigger Pindari clan. This time they avoided Iranian space because Iran have already intercepted many drawns including stealth which was capturedRecommend

  • Talimand Khan
    May 28, 2016 - 3:40PM

    It does not matter who lead the Taliban but who support them. Recommend

  • Feroz
    May 28, 2016 - 4:18PM

    This author assumes the world is made up with duffers with IQ of 40. Author must elaborate on the rewards for ordinary Pakistani citizens in hosting and sheltering terror groups and sponsoring attacks on neighbors. Is losing 70,000 fellow citizens to these snakes a good enough reward OR should the country aim a lot higher ? Please let us know since duffers need spoon feeding. Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    May 28, 2016 - 10:52PM

    Does the US think that the killing of the Taliban chief will force the new chief to surrender? This will never happen as policies will not be made by Maulvi Haibatullah alone. The Taliban Rehbari Shura or the Leadership Council will also play a role in this regard.

    An excellent written report in the aftermath of another one of drone killings. However, there is no need for Mr Tahir Khan to play the philosophy of the devil’s advocate? The Americans will continue to act in their two centuries history by immitating the role of Imperial Rome and the Talibans will remain firm in their resistance in their thousands year of history. Pakistan has no role in the dispute other than pretending to have one which is not called for.by any of the conflict parties.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • ahmed41
    May 29, 2016 - 8:22AM

    @Rex Minor:

    Rex Sahib : …” The Americans will continue to act in their two centuries history by immitating the role of Imperial Rome and the Talibans will remain firm in their resistance in their thousands year of history.

    Pakistan has no role in the dispute other than pretending to have one which is not called for.by any of the conflict parties….”

    you are right !!!!!!Recommend

  • May 29, 2016 - 11:55AM

    My dear friend Tahir Khan salaam,

    You may accept that Afghan crisis is a coin with very complicated combination of various elements on each side. According to my understanding your analysis is portraying only one side of it which is already accepted by majority of Afghans (war is not solution). But other side of it is a boiling pot which regional and international spying companies are trying to keep it always upon the fire. According to me the only solution is to stop feeding the fire and to willingly pour water on it. It is responsibility of anyone to extinguish the fire in the neighborhood, not to apparently carry a water-pot but pull of oil instead. If my house is burned, your one is also turned to smoky and ugly. It is impossible to ply double cards forever. I think it is the right time to come to the fact and to acknowledge that later is also batter then never. Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Jun 5, 2016 - 2:16PM

    Pakistani logic: killing terrorists is bad for peace but hosting and arming them is good for peaceRecommend

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