For many, US President Donald Trump’s announcement scrapping the talks with the Taliban set for Camp David and aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan, was the first real indication that the peace process for the war-torn nation was nearing the final hurdle.
Thus far Taliban has refused outright to talk directly to the representatives of the government of Afghanistan. In reality, any peace deal must be inclusive of the government of Kabul, must be acceptable to the international partners of the US who have contributed in terms of men, material and money in bringing stability to regions of that troubled nation, and must also acknowledge the emerging secular make-up of Afghan after decades of violence.
If there has been one constant over these past 18 years in Afghanistan, it is the violence that has been brought by members of the Taliban in their efforts to enforce an extremist regime on their fellow countrymen and women. Their forces have continued to wreak havoc to provinces that were relatively stable.
Using violence as leverage
The American side is right to suggest that violence must not be used as a leverage to gain negotiating advantage during peace talks. It now falls on Taliban to refrain from using terrorism as a bargaining chip. It too must ensure that groups like Al Qaida do not get a footing on territory controlled by the Taliban.
The US-brokered talks at Camp David — the inner sanctum of US diplomacy — were planned to include Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani. Pertinently the democratic process in Afghanistan has been frustrated and disrupted by repeated Taliban violence, and the institutions and those who serve that nation have been targeted time and time again.
Too many have given too much to restore peace, stability and progress to the people of Afghanistan for their collective wishes to be ignored in a peace process that risks being negotiated for the expedience of the few. The truth is that Afghans have suffered immensely in the last several decades. If the desire for a peace deal in Afghanistan is built solely on the desires by the US administration to scale down its troop numbers after 18 years, that is a peace that is myopic. Instead, any future deal must be built upon the vision of a modern, secular Afghanistan respectful of all traditions. For that the US must get Afghan peace talks back on track.