Challenges and Spoilers

The future of the Afghan peace process in light of impending challenges, possible spoilers and priorities of the new US administration, needs to be explored.

By Amjad Ali | March 2021


Afghanistan has faced one of the worst spates of violence in 2020. The Kabul administration as well as the Taliban outfit, in order to overpower the other at the negotiations table, have been unceasingly unleashing violence against each other. The victims, unfortunately, have been the citizens. The challenges to the Afghan peace process are never-ending; nevertheless, there is hope that this year will usher in peace and prosperity in the warn-torn country.

The US-Taliban agreement, which was signed on 29 February 2020, included the timeline for the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, prisoners’ swap between the Kabul administration and Taliban, and guarantees on part of the Taliban to sever ties with the foreign militant groups, including Al-Qaeda.

The agreement was to pave the way for intra-Afghan negotiations that were intricately complex and befuddling. However, the Afghan government refused to comply with the clause of the agreement related to a prisoners’ swap between the Taliban and Kabul on the grounds that it was an agreement between the Taliban and the United States, and Kabul was not part of the agreement.

The delay in the implementation resulted in a surge of violence that created suspicions that a derailment of the peace process was in the offing and Afghanistan might be thrust into perpetual violence again.

Fortunately, mediation efforts by the US and Pakistan helped in bringing the two recalcitrant factions to the table.

When there is talk of the spoilers at play in the Afghan peace process, it is often reminded that it is India that may play this role. Needless to say, India is one of the beneficiaries of pervasive instability in Afghanistan. It has used this platform to wreak havoc in Pakistan as well by whipping up insurgency and terrorism.

It can of course be said that likely spoilers can well be the Afghans themselves. No external power, whether India or other state or non-state actor, can be a more potent threat to the intra-Afghan peace process than the Afghan factional spoilers .

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