By Ishfaq jamal
Afghanistan is a country which has seen less years of peace and prosperity and more of war over the decades . Post 2001 the country is witnessing a seemingly unending bloodshed. A war between heavily equipped and trained US led NATO forces and local Taliban militants. Post 9/11 it appeared that USA would annihilate the Talban regime in no time and a US backed democratic govt. would take care of the whole Afghanistan. But things didn’t went so humpty dowry , what happened next was USA got trapped in an unending war in which it has to bear the burden of 30 trillion USD on its economy, deaths of thousands of US soldiers and a non dignified exit from war is harming the image of USA. What appears is that two decades of war couldn’t end the stalemate and now USA is compelled to search peaceful ways for ending this conflict.
30 years back Russia left Afghanistan defeated and humiliated and now it is taking a lead for creating a peaceful environment in Afghanistan ,as a peaceful neighborhood is in the interests of Russia. Earlier this month Moscow hosted talks, in which 5 members of Taliban’s Qatar office and representatives from 11 countries including regional giants China, Pakistan and Iran participated. The talks were held in a jovial environment and a positive message for further deliberations was given. Talks are always positive and Jovial and war isn’t. War devastates, conflict destroys, but talks offer a meaning for peaceful and prosperous times. Back in 2016 Russia had initiated meetings among neighbors of Afghanistan as an initiative for ending Afghanistan stalemate, known as “Moscow process” many countries including China, Pakistan, Iran and other neighboring countries of Afghanistan have joined it. Earlier this year also a six member Taliban delegation met a US envoy in Qatar for talks. There was ceasefire in the holy month of Ramzan from both sides and again a ceasefire was announced by Kabul on Eidulazha . All these steps indicate a leap forward towards long needed peace process in Afghanistan. Back home the other important yet more dangerous conflict between two nuclear powers , India and Pakistan presents a more bleak picture these days. India attended Moscow talks on a non official level giving a hint that it has no problems in sharing the table with Taliban which India once considered as a dreaded enemy. India-Pakistan talks has become a butt of jokes considering the uncertainty that always looms over such talks. They have always suffered derailment owing to many factors . Be it domestic political environment, pressure from fringe groups, elections in the offing or a Pathankot like attack , the first victim is always peace process. Both the countries especially India lacks a modus vivendi when it comes to tackling tough situations in Indo-Pak relations. A lack of clear cut policy on Kashmir and talks with Pakistan is what hampers the peace process between India and Pakistan.
After the announcement of ceasefire by Ashraf ghani led government on Eidulazha there was sudden spike in attacks by Taliban. As back channel talks continue between Taliban and US, certain elements in Taliban have intensified the attacks. Many believe that those Taliban groups who are aghast to talks want to derail the talks by spiking the violence and several analysts are of the view that Taliban wants to present itself as a strong party to talk with on talks table. Thus they have spiked in the attacks. Yet these attacks haven’t derailed the talks and all the factions are showing flexibility and not putting complex preconditions for talks. India considers Kashmir as its inseparable part and Pakistan calls Kashmir its jugular vein. How strange, both sides have kept the firepot burning for Kashmiri’s to suffer. Conflict generates more conflict. One major reason why US wants to end the conflict In Afghanistan soon is ISIS increasing its ground and influence due to the vacuum created by the ongoing war. In Kashmir there are reports of ISIS or Alqaeda related factions trying to lure and recruit youth. But GOI seems unaffected ,rather it wants to take leverages from the presence of links of international Jehadi organizations, by presenting Kashmir just as an issue of terrorism. If new Delhi truly considers Kashmiris as its own people, it should immediately start peace process and stop making Kashmir as a scape goat for its election agenda in order to lure voters.
(The author is a freelancer. Views are his own)