Peace in Afghanistan


Taliban  and an array of influential political and civic leaders in Afghanistan have agreed on a set of principles for negotiations over the country’s political future. This  has come as a major step toward ending  18 years of war in the country. In a joint resolution on  Tuesday that followed two days of dialogue, some 70 representatives of the warring sides said that post-war Afghanistan would have an Islamic legal system which would guarantee equality for all ethnic groups and ensure women’s rights “within the Islamic framework of Islamic values.” The resolution  represents the most important effort  so far by Taliban and its interlocutors  to lay out a shared vision of their political future.

Though sides have reported credible progress,  they are still some distance away from an  accord.  The sticking points remain  the time of withdrawal of US-led international forces and the Taliban’s  assurances that it won’t harbour  groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS after the US is gone. The recent months have witnessed a broad understanding over these issues. And hopefully this will conclude into a final agreement in the weeks or months to come.
However, eventually the peace and stability in Afghanistan will have to be the responsibility of the regional powers. And it is unlikely to happen if the regional powers pursue their disparate interests in the war-torn country.  The US will also need to make some subtle adjustment in its Afghanistan policy to make it work. In its current form, the policy almost entirely neglects the regional geo-politics, prevailing issues and the contending interests of the neighbouring countries  like India and Pakistan which essentially keep the conflict going in Kabul. So rather than an Afghanistan-centric policy, US needs a broader regional approach to work for an integrated solution to the conflicts and the competing interests that in  turn fuel the war in Kabul. 

The conflict in Afghanistan is now so much enmeshed with the regional rivalries and the issues that it appears improbable that there would be long term stability in Kabul unless steps are taken to get the regional countries cooperate to end the forty year long bloodshed in the country.  The deeply challenging project of a peaceful Afghanistan, therefore, demands a broader regional cooperation, more so, between India  and Pakistan. It is only hoped that New Delhi and Islamabad realizing the momentous changes sweeping through region will cooperate to not only steer the region through the fraught transition of a post-US Afghanistan but also take concrete steps to address their lingering differences which alone will be the guarantee for a sustainably peaceful South Asia and the broader region. 

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