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REINTEGRATING AFGHANISTAN

Reintegrating Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been suffering from the horrors of wars and instability for decades now. These have made the people undergo great misery; therefore, most of the people are now fed up of the circumstances and they keep on longing for peace. The common people in Afghanistan require nothing more than peace today as the situation is once again turning instable and insecure. It is really weird that some people still think that peace can be acquired through wars and, therefore, Afghan government must launch a full-fledge war against the Taliban.

Afghanistan, the country that has been crying for peace since long, is again on the verge of tumult and chaos. Events and developments during the recent months have again jeopardized the already-fragile peace process. Taliban have intensified their attacks after refusing the peace talks and the fatal attack in Kabul, a week after the Taliban declared their Operation Omari, killed and wounded hundreds of people. In retaliation to this audacious act, Afghanistan hanged six Taliban prisoners convicted of terrorism offences “fulfilling a vow to crack down on terrorism”. At a time when President Ashraf Ghani should be unveiling a viable political framework for talks with the Taliban, he has taken a harsher stance against Pakistan by blaming it of not doing enough against the Taliban that could further complicate the peace process.

With the return of violence with ever more intensity, the prospects of peace in Afghanistan seem dim again. Insecurity and the political disorder have again become rampant and the frustration President Ghani has shown in recent weeks is creating many doubts about the future of the war-torn country.

The expectations of reconciliation with Taliban have shattered into pieces and the Afghan government is groping in the dark and is finding no clue whatsoever as to how peace can be brought to the country.

At a time when civilian death toll is making the Afghans disappointed than ever before, there are evident differences between President Ashraf Ghani and the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. To the Afghans’ unmitigated sufferings and miseries, the Taliban attacks continue posing threat to their life and curtailing their freedom to a great extent. Needless to say, resuming peace talks was the only gleam of hope for Afghan nation and people waited patiently for a fruitful result. Although, Taliban have been refusing to indulge into peace talks by setting hard preconditions, and intensifying their attacks yet it is important that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China plays its role in bringing Taliban to the negotiating table. The silver lining is that the back-channel contacts to convince the Taliban to restart the peace process are still functional.

Over a period of time, a powerful lobby has evolved in Afghanistan whose stakes are better served if the country remains unstable. For instance, there are credible reports that Afghanistan’s CEO Abdullah Abdullah is trying his best for quick deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan, which goes to prove that the biggest hurdle in peace talks is not Taliban but the vested interest groups in Afghanistan. It is also being reported that the US and India had agreed during their meeting on Feb 10, 2016 in Washington to deploy about thirty thousand Indian troops in Afghanistan to protect US interests there.

Ashraf Ghani, otherwise a prudent leader, is often swayed by this anti-Pakistan lobby. Who would know better than him the dynamics of war economy, and power of the interest groups thrown up by such economies? However, he needs to know more about the political options exercised by other countries which came out of similar turmoil that bedevils today’s Afghanistan.

While the international community is making an all-out effort to bring Taliban back to the negotiation table, especially through the QCG, Ashraf Ghani panics on every bomb blast and every takeover attempt of peripheral middle order urban centre by Taliban. Ghani often angrily denounces Pakistan for failing to rein in the Taliban despite the fact that Pakistan has repeatedly made it clear that it has limited influence over them.

There is a need for paradigm shift if the Afghan peace process is to take a sustainable trajectory. Instead of blaming Pakistan for their failure to either defeat the Taliban in the battlefield or to coax them to come over to their side, the Afghanistan government should put its own house in order. Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan and only that. And, peace can only be negotiated between the Afghans and the Taliban without any undue foreign interference.

Since the Karzai era, sinking economy, perpetuating corruption and incompetent security agencies have marred Afghanistan’s domestic environment. No wonders the fault lines that prompt Afghan leadership to blaming Pakistan for everything that could go wrong in Afghanistan are snowballing.

The Afghan government must realize that all notable Taliban groups have united under the command of Mullah Akhtar Mansur. The Taliban are, hence, now better placed as a fighting force. To defeat Taliban mindset and bringing them into Afghan mainstream, it is imperative that political stability is brought to the country because political stability and harmony are the most important factors for the integration of the Afghan nation. Nonetheless, achieving such a position is a far cry and the present attitude of Afghan government and its Western allies is further deterring the process.

The reintegration of the Afghan society is only possible through a separate process – it can neither be the outcome of a miracle nor the result of the reconciliation process alone as is mostly thought. At the present scenario, even it seems improbable that the reconciliation process may reach to any sort of viable agreement with Taliban, let alone the integration of the entire nation. For reintegration to happen, it is necessary to bring about some very basic structural changes within the Afghan political setup.

So, all the groups in Afghanistan should bridge the gaps among themselves. Then, the government must reinforce the soldiers to counter terrorism. The world is to join forces to eradicate the terrorism not only from Afghanistan but from the surface of earth. The international community will not have to turn blind eye to the war-torn countries, especially Afghanistan, which has always extended the hand of peace to warring factions.

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