Shedding the Millstone

It is in the interest of all concerned to promote the
intra-Afghan talks and move towards enduring peace.
Pakistan too can play its role in the peace process.

By S.G. Jilanee | August 2020

In 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan and thus embark on what was to become its longest war. In the meantime, many governments have changed in Afghanistan. Ashraf Ghani succeeded Hamid Karzai and is still in power with the Tajik leader Abdullah Abdullah also having his claims. The Taliban have also not betrayed any sign of fatigue.

America wants to shed the millstone of the Afghan war. Although sporadic efforts have taken place since the war began, but serious negotiations and the peace movement intensified in 2018 amid talks between the Taliban, which is the main group fighting against the Afghan government and US troops and the US¸ which is said to maintain 20,000 soldiers on Afghan soil to support the Afghan government.

Most of the talks to end the fighting took place in Doha, where a Taliban office is based. It is expected that soon the Taliban and the United States will agree to a phased American withdrawal and the start of intra-Afghan peace talks. Moreover, besides the United States, other regional powers such as Pakistan, China and Russia, as well as NATO are also playing a part in facilitating the peace process

On February 29, 2020, the U.S. signed a conditional peace agreement with the Taliban, which callsed for the withdrawal of foreign troops in 14 months if the Taliban were to uphold the terms of the agreement. On March 1, 2020, however, the Afghan government, which was not a party to the deal, rejected the U.S. and Taliban’ call for a prisoner swap by March 10, 2020, with President Ghani stating that such an agreement required further negotiations and could also not be implemented as a precondition for future peace negotiations.

On March 10, 2020, Ghani signed a decree agreeing to swap 1,500 Taliban prisoners starting March 14, 2020, but on the condition that they sign pledges agreeing to not return to combat. On the same day, meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council unanimously backed the U.S.-Taliban peace deal.

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