Saturday, 30 April 2016

Major stumbling blocks to the Afghan peace process

Major stumbling blocks to the Afghan peace process
Sunday, 24 April 2016 | Written by Heart of Asia
Some lawmakers and political analysts believe Pakistan and the United States are still sabotaging Afghan peace process to protect their own interests, and it won’t be successful until the Afghan government assures the US that peace is also in the interest of America.
The lack of proper policy and consensus in the government on peace process, excessive reliance on Pakistan, and the personal interests of some groups in war are some of the key challenges hindering the Afghan reconciliation process.
Gharzai Khwakhogai, a military expert, says both the first round of face-to-face peace talks between Afghan officials and the Taliban in Murree, a hill resort near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, and the quartet peace initiative known as the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) were derailed by US and Pakistan because they are still pursuing their goals through war.
US officials themselves confess that they are here in Afghanistan to safeguard their own interests, which is the destabilization of Central Asia and Russia by allowing the conflict to spill over into that region, so how we should expect them to help restore peace to our country, Khwakhogai tells The Heart of Asia.
Pakistan plays a double game with both China and America, and also views Afghan peace as a danger to its interests, he believes, adding that Pakistan has economic interests in China, and receives millions of dollars in aid from the US for its cooperation in the so-called war on terror; therefore, Pakistan will lose the assistance if peace is restored to Afghanistan.

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"There are a lot of people in the Afghan government who think will lose their personal interests if peace comes; they see their interest and survival only in the war. If another group joins the government and seizes power, their share will decrease, hence they oppose the peace process,” he told the Heart of Asia.
Shahzada Shahid, a lawmaker and spokesman of the High Peace Council, believes a dearth of unanimity in the government is a major hurdle before peace. “Another problem thereof is that peace is directly dependent on the international community, in particular the US. For instance, if the government reaches an agreement with Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), the most important issue will be the removal of members of the group from the UN Blacklist. But if foreigners don’t see Afghan peace as a necessity, they won’t lift the sanctions, thereby making the peace deal impossible with every militant group,” he explained.
However, Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a political analyst, says that a lack of political will on the part of Afghan leaders and the US and absence of a proper policy, over-reliance on Pakistan and some government officials are the main challenges facing the peace process.
Pakistan and the US, who are also now undermining peace talks with the Taliban and HIG, are undoubtedly the key saboteurs of Afghan peace process over the past 13 years, he told The Heart of Asia.
"Unfortunately, Afghan leaders don’t dare talk to the US. If peace process makes any progress, Afghan leaders should first clearly tell the US to define its interests to the Afghan government, and then Afghanistan should give it the assurance that its interests will be protected in the peace process," Zaland uttered, believing that Afghan officials should convince Americans that their interests in the regional could also be safeguarded through peace, and should therefore give up the protraction of war.
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  • The statements, views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Ivo R.Toniut