Afghan talks: so far so good

Time has now brought both the countries, as well as Iran, on the same page on the 17-year-long conflict

Editorial December 28, 2018

The Afghan peace process is moving forward. The direct talks between the US and the Taliban in Abu Dhabi last week have been followed up with a recent vital engagement between former foes Iran and the Taliban, as well as Pakistan’s contacts with Russia, China, Iran and Afghanistan during Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s recent emissary journey. Players like Iran and Russia appear serious about bridging their differences with other stakeholders in the long-drawn conflict. Tehran sounds optimistic about the talks and says the peace process will continue.

Positive signals are coming from Moscow too. It calls the US decision on partial withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan a ‘step in the right direction’. Having themselves lost the war in Afghanistan despite fighting for a decade, the Russians learnt it the hard way that the use of force is no way to conquer Afghanistan. The same lesson they expected of the US to understand: that there is a need to employ political and diplomatic methods to carve a way out of the Afghan conflict. In that, Russia and Pakistan enjoy unanimity of views. But puffed with the pride of power, the US had long ignored the precious piece of advice as it had also to learn the valuable diplomatic lesson the hard way, just like the Russians.

Any state with a stake in the region is understood to have established some kind of contact with the Taliban. Russia is no exception. There have been reports of increased Russian influence in Afghanistan in terms of engagement with the Taliban and even making supplies to them. The Islamic State group is also a bonding factor between both. While the Russians perceive the group as a threat to the region, the Taliban find it as a potential spoiler to its future rule in Afghanistan. So while the US was fighting the Taliban, Russia was supporting them. But time has now brought both the countries, as well as Iran, on the same page on the 17-year-long conflict — something that augurs well for the Afghans and the region.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2018.

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Ts | 2 years ago | Reply Afghan taliban should kickout usa from afghanistan
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