As the Taliban and the Afghan government delegations sat face to face, for the first time, to chart a US-sponsored peace roadmap, it is important to recognise the crucial role of the Trump administration in pushing for peaceful settlements in different parts of the world.
These efforts are largely ignored by the media which prefers to focus on the shortcomings, and they are too many of them to ignore, of the presidency of Donald Trump. But to his credit, the US president has in the past month alone been involved in many historical events — the UAE- Israel Peace Accord, the Bahrain-Israel Peace Accord and the Afghan peace talks.
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Form day one, President Trump stressed that the US should end its military operations in hotspots around the world. That was his guiding principle when he travelled to South Korea more than a year ago to meet at the border area with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
His critics contend that the recent initiatives are mere election stunts aimed at shoring up the president’s re-election chances, considering his rival Joe Biden’s steady lead in the polls. So be it. Pushing the warring Afghan parties to sit and talk about the future of their troubled country is a “truly momentous” breakthrough, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rightly said at the start of the talks. The head of Afghanistan’s peace council described the talks as an “exceptional opportunity for peace”.
The outcome of the talks, however, will depend on the Afghan parties themselves. They only need to take a critical look at their country, which has endured 40 years of senseless wars. They only need to imagine what the proud nation of Afghanistan could have achieved with unity and stability in those four decades.
Better late than ever. The new talks offer a unique opportunity for Afghanistan to recover. However, the Taliban must negotiate with sincerity, the ability to compromise and full commitment to a peaceful settlement. Previous efforts to end the conflicts have failed because of the Taliban’s unreasonable terms to impose their version of extremist ideology on the largely moderate and tolerant people of Afghanistan. They must cut all ties to terrorist networks such as Al Qaida. Their alliance with the notorious group has resulted in the deadly September 11 attacks, which led to the US military invasion of Afghanistan in 2011.
The new peace talks started on the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the US — a clear message to the Taliban to cut ties with terror.