Afghan peace process still in limbo

The revival of the stalled Afghan peace process is still far away from reality as the warring parties – Afghan government and the factions at war in Afghanistan including Taliban – are showing little interest in reaching an agreement.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Despite all efforts, the Taliban are not ready for peace talks.

Updated May 21, 2016

The revival of the stalled Afghan peace process still seems like a distant reality, as both sides – the Afghan government and the Taliban militant group – are showing little interest to sit across the table from eachother.

The Taliban is least bothered to respond to the calls to re-join the peace process, which broke down last July, after the confirmed death of Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

The Taliban stepped up its armed campaign against coalition and Afghan forces under the Omari operation, the latest spring offensive named after the group's former leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. They set up an expulsion of foreign troops and released their prisoners as a precondition for talks.

The Taliban-claimed an attack on April 19, which claimed 64 lives and injured 347 others. QCG condemned the attack in its recent meeting.

The Quadrilateral Coordination Group of the US, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan — which was formed a few months back to push the peace process in Afghanistan — met for the fifth time in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, on Wednesday, but could not come up with a roadmap to help end fight in the war-ravaged Afghanistan.  

Islamabad confirmed that the Afghan Taliban did not respond to the quadrilateral peace talks. Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry urged President Ghani's administration to come up with a more unified and coherent approach for peace talks. 

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

Kabul, however, successfully engaged an insurgent group, Hizb e Islami led by Afghanistan’s former Prime Minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Former mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is one of the most significant figures in modern Afghan history. A former prime minister, he is remembered chiefly for his role in the civil war of the 1990s which helped end the Soviet occupation.

Apparently President Ghani's administration was also not expecting a breakthrough in the fifth round of QCG meeting, as no one came from Kabul to attend it. Afghanistan’s ambassador in Islamabad was asked to attend the meeting convened by a four-nation group. 

Tahir Khan, a senior Pakistani journalist closely following militancy in Afghanistan, wrote on social blogging website Twitter that Kabul proposed that the Taliban be labelled as irreconcilable and an action be initiated against them if they fail to become part of the peace process.

The quadrilateral meeting had reiterated that violence served no purpose and peace negotiations remained the only option for a political settlement.

During a news briefing in Washington recently, the State Department spokesman John Kirby said all groups should sit at the table with the Afghan government to build a lasting peace and put an end to the ongoing violence in the country. 

Victims of ongoing violence

Hundreds and thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan have become victims of this unending conflict since 2001.

Victims of Terrorism

A separate ministry has been established in Kabul to compensate the victims of war. But the unending figures and weak governance structure made the task difficult.

Muhammad Taqi lost both his legs in a recent incident and failed to receive compensation from the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled in Afghanistan. Photo: Azam Khan

Prospects of expected 'peace deal’ with Hizb-e-Islami

Hizb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - a former prime minister of Afghanistan - was designated as a “foreign terrorist organisation” by the US for its close ties with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The conclusion of the fresh huddles is that the Kabul administration will work to remove Hekmatyar and his party's name from UN terrorist blacklists, as per the agreed terms.

Deputy spokesman for Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, said that the draft accord is waiting to be approved by the president.