Making peace in Afghanistan

Making peace in Afghanistan
File Photo

In recent past, the talks between the US and Taliban haveshown ample promise of a breakthrough in near future. In fact,  Washington is so keen for the dialogue tosucceed that it ended contact with Afghanistan's National Security AdvisorHamdullah Mohib after he criticized US negotiator with Taliban, ZalmayKhalilzad for shutting out Afghan government from the talks.

The latest round of US-Taliban dialogue concluded on March11 after sixteen days. Though sides have reported progress, but they are stillsome distance away from an  accord.  The sticking points remain  the time of withdrawal of US-ledinternational forces and the Taliban's assurances that it won't harbour groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS after the US is gone.

However, eventually the peace and stability in Afghanistanwill have to be the responsibility of the regional powers. And it is unlikelyto happen if the regional powers pursue their disparate interests in thewar-torn country.  The US will also needto make some subtle adjustment in its Afghanistan policy to make it work. Inits current form, the policy almost entirely neglects the regionalgeo-politics, prevailing issues and the contending interests of theneighbouring countries  like India andPakistan which essentially keep the conflict going in Kabul.

So rather than an Afghanistan-centric policy, US needs abroader regional approach to work for an integrated solution to the conflictsand the competing interests that in  turnfuel the war in Kabul. The conflict in Afghanistan  is now so much enmeshed with the regionalrivalries and the issues that it appears improbable that there would be longterm stability in Kabul unless steps are taken to get the regional countriescooperate 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 Delhiand Islamabad realizing the momentous changes sweeping through region willcooperate to not only steer the region through the fraught transition of apost-US Afghanistan but also take concrete steps to address their lingeringdifferences which alone will be the guarantee for a sustainably peaceful SouthAsia and the broader region.

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