On Saturday, US and Taliban have signed an agreement after months of negotiations in Doha, capital of Qatar, to take steps to bring to an end the United States’s longest war. US had invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to avenge 9/11 which it said had been planned by Al Qaeda then based in Afghanistan. Though the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan quickly collapsed, the war dragged on.
Saturday’s agreement was signed in the presence of leaders from Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, Indonesia, Uzbekistan Tajikistan and more significantly India. The agreement will pave the way for the US to gradually withdraw its troops. The pact has four points: a timeline of 14 months for the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan; a Taliban guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad that would threaten the security of the US; the launch of intra-Afghan negotiations by March 10; and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
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 exclusively Afghanistan-centric policy, US also 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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