Friday, 23 July, 2021
Geneva International Conference on Peace and Stability in Afghanistan was held on September 21, 2021. The participants and main speakers ranged from Afghan and International Experts from Academia, diplomats (governments), military experts, Journalists and civil society institutions; many with direct experience of conflict and peace in Afghanistan. These prominent experts and analysts discussed in detail the prevailing situation after UN and NATO pull out from Afghanistan and its implications for international and regional peace and security; and presented out of box solutions for resolving this long and bloody conflict. The experts analyzed the situation on the both side of Durand Line where the safe havens for terrorists and Taliban in Pakistan are still posing an imminent threat to Afghanistan and the whole world from where the terrorists can plan and attack the International Community just like 9/11 in USA.
The main topics discussed at the conference by our experts were as under;
With the dramatic capture of Kabul by Taliban, we are witnessing is a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe in Afghanistan. Videos of women handing babies and children to soldiers over barbed wire at Kabul airport illustrate the fear and panic of Afghans who want to leave the country at every cost. Two young boys, falling down from an American military plane has shocked humanity. A bomb blast killed more than 170 innocent Afghans including American soldiers Even on final day of exit, US Drones killed 10 members of a family including 7 children in Kabul. The whole world including Americans pose question, was it worth fighting for 20 years? Taliban, a terrorist organization closely affiliated with terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, has taken over Afghanistan after humiliating US withdrawal.
This exit pose many questions on the credibility of those think-tanks and universities which have been devising policies and planning strategies to win the war on terror in Afghanistan.
The self-inflicted defeat is a strategic nightmare for Americans, as they have lost an important war against terrorism. Rather, terrorists have been rewarded with a country through Doha agreement, from where they (Taliban) can target the whole world with impunity. US has rewarded those who have been involved in gross human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. I would like to warn those Afghans particularly Pashtuns to refrain from blindly supporting Taliban. Those who have been trained for terrorism and violence, cannot be reformed within days and become human rights champions. So, the only option we have is to resist them.
Americans have lost trust. The world does not believe them anymore. The world is shocked and confused. How a civilized country like US can become a partner and ally with a terrorist group like Taliban. So, US has lost its status of a super power. A vacuum has been created to be filled by new immerging powers.
Taliban have their internal conflicts to be resolved. The Taliban leadership in DOHA who adopt a pragmatic approach to garner international support will clash with the harsh ideological approach of operation commanders and foot soldiers on the ground who want a purely theocratic state, which will result in internal conflicts and tug of war.This pragmatic approach will give ground to ISIS and AL QAEDA which will weaken Taliban in future.
The authoritarian states like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, interested in exploiting the mineral resources and rare-earth metals will support hardliners ideological elements in Taliban while the West will try to force pragmatic leadership of Taliban to strengthen democratic institutions and promote & protect human rights particularly the rights of women. So, this war between authoritarian states and the liberal Western democracies will further weaken Taliban and can result in further conflict and bloodshed.
The Taliban takeover of Kabul will have far reaching implications and repercussions for Afghanistan and the whole region.This takeover will further increase enmities between the north and south of Afghanistan. As, Tajiks, Uzbeks and even Hazaras will feel threatened, isolated and betrayed. So, Afghans need to work hard to stop an imminent war between Tajiks-Uzbeks and Pashtuns, which may cause unimaginable destruction to Afghanistan.
The Taliban victory will inspire and encourage the radicals and terrorist groups in the region which points towards the fact that south east Asia is going to be affected and there is imminent threat of increase in ISIS activity in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippine, Malaysia, Pakistan and India.
Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism is fully supporting Afghan Taliban and other terrorists groups in the region. But, she will ultimately be affected by terrorism in the days to come as Taliban takeover will further radicalize the Pashtuns living in Pashtun-dominated areas of Pakistan like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistani Military will use violence to pacify Pashtuns which will result in the persecution of Pashtuns and increase in enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity.So, Afghanistan particularly Pashtuns are faced with astronomical challenges of how to protect their lives and basic fundamental freedoms in Taliban era.
We believe that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political settlement supported by US, UN, and International Community is possible for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Acknowledging the Kabul Peace Process as the main forum and vehicle along with other regional and International peace initiatives on Afghanistan, the future of peace and stability depends a wholistic peace achieved through incremental peace processes in a gradual progress as deftly put forward by ANNA Larson, “ Afghanistan is at the crossroads facing two possible futures: indefinite violent conflict, or gradual progress towards sustainable peace. Choices made now over strategy, tactics and resources can tip the balance either way”. We need a radical new approach to peace in the country.
While the declaration of the religious scholars of the International Conference titled “Peace and Stability in Afghanistan” held on 10-11 July 2018 is very important, we should emphasize the importance of women’s full and meaningful participation in reconciliation, security and economic development. Commitment for implementation of the Afghanistan National Action Plan on women, security and peace is very vital.
While Afghanistan is faced with the challenges of Taliban Insurgency and transnational terrorism sponsored by Pakistan and Iran,, the corruption and weak institutions but on the positive side she has advanced in areas of socio-political, economic, educational and human rights reforms, ANA is more capable of mounting attacks and winning against Taliban and Haqqani Network, organizing successful presidential Elections.
Proposals and initiatives will be discussed for establishing peace in Afghanistan, restoration of economic structures, promotion of integration into regional economic processes and making Afghanistan a gate way to central Asia. In this regard all the options including short, medium and long-term objectives will be specified for peace and security in Afghanistan and in the region. There are no magic wand solutions but with incremental approach of gradually building confidence, stability and legitimacy through a series of agreements supported by reforms and joint-actions will reduce violence and lead to a comprehensive peace deal or/and a new Social Contract inclusive of all Afghans.
Khyber Institute for Research & Strategic Studies (IRESK)
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