Deal and After

Now that a peace deal has been signed between the Americans and the Taliban, will the hostilities finally end and the country will move towards nation-building?

By Nikhat Sattar | April 2020

The US, Taliban peace deal, signed on 29th February, 2020 in Doha, feels like a film which keeps you rooted to the couch in suspense as the turns and twists unfold, and, at the same time, the story remains the same.

The deal was signed between Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump's special envoy and the Taliban representative, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban who was imprisoned in Pakistan for eight years until 2018. Questions remain whether Baradar can still represent the new generation of Taliban fighters.

At the time of writing this, the deal was standing, but just, tottering on its shaky foundations like a house of cards. Perhaps “peace deal” is a misnomer. It is more of a conditional truce to enable the Americans to get out of the country they have ravaged for over 18 years, more than the total time in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed, resulting in the largest number of refugees and the social and economic fabric has been left in tatters.

The Afghan government, headed by Ashraf Ghani, who won the elections in September 2019, (a fact contested by his arch rival, Abdullah Abdullah), was kept out of the year long talks. Trump, keen to withdraw his troops in a bid to woo his voters for his second term, linked the action to reduction of violence by the Taliban and talks between them and the Afghan government to come to a consensus on a governance system for the war-torn country. The Taliban, on their part, had demanded release of 5,000 prisoners imprisoned by the Afghan government in return for release of 1,000 US prisoners. The troop withdrawal has begun (the plan is to reduce the numbers from 12,500 to 8,600) but the Taliban continue to launch offensive attacks against Afghan forces with the US retaliating.

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The writer is a development professional, researcher, translator and columnist with an interest in religion and socio-political issues. She has translated various writings including Dr. Khalid Masud’s seminal biography of the Prophet

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