12 March 2012
The U.S.-led process of negotiations with the Taliban and agreements leading to the opening a political office in Qatar in order to bring them back into the political mainstream without a pre-planned joint strategic move with the Afghan government, have raised doubts among the people of Afghanistan. A series of events, including President Karzai’s peace talks last month with a high level delegation of Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (led by former Jihadi fighter Gulbuddin Hekmatyar), the creation of new political parties/fronts by the opposition groups with aims to change the current Afghan political system to a parliamentary one, and the corruption cancer within all governmental and non-governmental institutions are threatening and disappointing people's hopes of the future.
The U.S. and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will withdraw a vast number of their troops from the country in 2014. So far, the only positive achievements are the process of security transitions, but economic fundamentals are still the undergirding support for security forces, a fact which must be considered by the Afghan government.
Despite decades-long chaos in Afghanistan, there is another way of fighting the crisis which may benefit both Afghanistan and the international community. A large number of the Taliban factions are dissatisfied with the government, yet they are weak enough that they cannot fight without foreign support and motivations. The U.S. move toward peace talks would be more remarkable if it were given a chance to be Afghan-led, and in another step same-table talks must be supported or even facilitated by the U.S. and the international community to bring all the Afghan parties (Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami, opposition groups, civil society) together with the government for a long-awaited peace.
People in Afghanistan experienced and suffered intolerable decades of a long civil war, crimes, and tens of trillions of dollars in economic damages, due only to its poor geopolitical location as a historic battleground for east/west global powers and sub-beneficiaries of ethnic conflicts. All of Afghanistan's ethnicities and religious divisions are extremely tired of fighting, and external political interference - especially from neighboring countries - would be a waste of time if mindfully analyzed by the U.S. and its partners.
Current political circumstances in the region justify and demand a hasty peace resolution in Afghanistan, as the strategic conflict-creating projects by regional intelligence agencies are collapsing. Today an insecure Afghanistan will dangerously affect regional countries, especially Pakistan’s stability where thousands of Madrassas operating and among them hundreds are actively generating radicalism.
When ten suicide bombers are sent out to kill the Afghan people, it can be assumed that at least one came from such radical training centers in Pakistan’s territory. So people in Pakistan must understand, they were living in peace when their government and the ISI did not support permanent terrorism sanctuaries in their soil. Moreover, they have already started to feel the pain as Afghanistan does: political conflicts, NATO airstrikes, suicide bombings, and a possible civil war.
Iran could be in the same boat if keep on playing the same failed card in the region, especially with Afghanistan, at a time when pressures and sanctions are piling up for its nuclear programs. Thus, Iran’s people would better off to think twice about neighboring countries. A peaceful Afghanistan may not only support their sanctioned economy for more exports, but Afghanistan can also be generous with a decision on its still-free ports along neighboring countries.
At this point, the real beneficiary of a peace in Afghanistan would be the entire world - billions of dollars expended and thousands of Americans, ISAF soldiers, and civilians died for this war, while Al-Qaeda has lost control over its sub-groups after Osama bin Laden was killed by CIA in Pakistan.
Mutual cooperation pacts between Kabul, Washington, London, and Paris, as well as including regional political players, would be another positive move towards peace.
Afghanistan’s security as a single calm country in the region matters for the west; Pakistan is being thrown into chaos by Haqqani fighters and outnumbered insurgency groups approaching to nuclear sites, while, the world pressures on Iran are mounting. The Afghan people are facing one more chance for peace. It is time to remember the past experiences and the long history of war, for which we have gotten nothing beneficial. Fighting and seeking power for the glory of a single ethnic or an ideological division will never lead to peace; therefore, a nationwide Afghan-led peace talk supported by the international community would be most desirable.
Bahman Daneshdost is graduate of Kabul University and a freelance writer living in Afghanistan.