Pakistan desires that US should not promote the interests of its adversary in Afghanistan either to; enhance its security concerns along its western borders or else to block its entry into hydrocarbon rich Central Asian Republics. US must remember that, only sincerity in the negotiations and incorporating its true stake holders and rightful neighbours would bring stability in Afghanistan for its honourable exit.

By Dr Raja Muhammad Khan

In a recent statement, the former Taliban Minister, Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, now a member of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan has said that, Taliban have decided to soften up their stance for a peace in Afghanistan. Today, they are ready to make comprises on some of the aspects which were never thought of earlier. He however said that, “The Taliban are not back to govern the same way as the old Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. When they are back, they will be back as (other) Afghans.” With the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, one could see this change in the attitude of the Taliban leadership. They are no more adamant to their previous stance that they would talk only once the occupants leave their country. Indeed, the shift in the Taliban strategy has transformed them from “being a non-state to a state actor.” On its part, United States is also negotiating with Taliban considering them as a legal entity.

It is not only that Taliban have changed their stance and attitude, but apparently there is change in the US perception and attitude too. A few months earlier, US official stance was that, they would never talk with Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Then there came a change of stance and its officials said that, US is willing to talk to good Taliban and so on. However, now Mr Grossman and other US officials have met with the people of Mullah Omar, the former Taliban head of Afghanistan, whom they were accounting for as the bad Taliban. There is also a visible flexibility on the US side, which is no longer insisting that the Taliban accept the existing constitution as a pre-condition or disarm them, before the talks.

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 While these negotiations are on their way, the American military operations are continuing in various parts of Afghanistan as a routine. Still there are night raids and indiscriminate firing by US and NATO troops, killing innocent Afghans. Degrading of Afghan people has reached to a level that US soldiers have been found in humiliating and desecrating the dead bodies of their opponents, the Taliban fighters. This humiliation is unique in nature whereby US marines are urinating on the dead bodies of the Taliban, a worst form of humiliation in this highly civilized world of 21st century.

Unfortunately, except few words of condemnation, the champions of human rights in US, Europe and else where in the world including Pakistan are quite on this extreme act of US soldiers. Apart from this particular event, United States soldiers have the worst record of the violations of human rights in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Punishing one odd soldier may not redress the grievances, but a change has to come through the change of attitude of US military commanders and those running and directing the human tortures in centers like Guantanamo Bay.  On their part, Taliban are continuing the negotiations despite such like inhuman acts by the occupants. Perhaps, being sons of soil, they think that, Afghan had enough and any how, these negotiations may pave a way for the ultimate pull out of foreign forces from their soil.

Taliban, otherwise consider this negotiation as their success, and they have rightly announced this as such on January 16, 2012. Only after this declaration of success, Taliban officially expressed interest in negotiations with Washington. Indeed, opening of Taliban office in Qatar and starting of negotiations was a US desire and through Qatar Government, as intermediary, US covertly made all these arrangements. The reality is that, after a decade’s of military engagement; White House and Pentagon have reached to the conclusions that they are loosing in Afghanistan and situation is just like Vietnam. Although, such a realization was there once the late Richard Holbrooke tried to start the negotiations, but resisted by Pentagon.

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Nevertheless, according to a new book of Zbigniew Brzezinski, then security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, United States is facing serious challenges to its very survival if it fails to take some immediate measures.  The book entitled, “Strategic Vision” has revealed many grey areas, facing this global giant, owing to the wrong policies of Pentagon and White House hawks. He himself being a hawkish of the time is critical to the status-quo policies in US. In his book, Mr Brzezinski finds, “alarming similarities between America today and the Soviet Union just before its fall, including a gridlocked governmental system incapable of enacting serious policy revisions, a back-breaking military budget and a failing decade-long attempt to conquer Afghanistan.” Rather acting as a colonial power, US needs to be a balancing factor in the global politics. Mr Brzezinski also feels that, US must become a “responsible partner to the rising and increasingly assertive East.” US role should be as a “balancer and conciliator” among Asian nations. Envisioning all the symptoms of a dying empire, US policy makers perhaps finally decided to talk to Taliban as a way out from this never-ending and convoluted conflict in Afghanistan.

For a peace and stability in Afghanistan, US-Taliban negotiation is a welcoming step. However, the peace process would remain fragile unless it has the backing of all groups and warring factions of Afghanistan, besides other stake holders; the immediate neighbours, which remained associated with the conflict for over thirty years now. Pakistan is one such country, which has been directly and indirectly associated with the conflict in Afghanistan, ever since the Soviet invasion in it in 1979. It helped US and West in the first phase and following 9/11, it is playing the role of frontline state to fight the terrorists and extremists. For this role, Pakistan paid a heavy price in all fields viz; economic, social, politic and military. It is felt that US is negating Pakistani role in its recent talks with Taliban. Though US tried to rebuff this impression, as in a recent briefing of Ms. Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson of State Department, said that Pakistan is very important country and has a role in the process.  She further said that, “We very much want Pakistan to be part of this, as do the Afghans. We have at every opportunity been clear that we think that Pakistan has a very important role to play in supporting this reconciliation process.”

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Right from the beginning of US invasion in Afghanistan in October 2001, Pakistan is the only country which has been emphasizing for a political solution of Afghan issue, through integration of all groups and factions including Northern Alliance. Today, Pakistan welcomes the peace talks between US and Taliban. However, being the worst sufferer of this prolonged instability in Afghanistan, would like that its interests must be catered for. Pakistan never wants to assume the role of an imperial neighbour, but would surely like that; the true representatives of the country must get their due share in any future setup of Afghanistan.

Furthermore, Pakistan desires that US should not promote the interests of its adversary in Afghanistan either to; enhance its security concerns along its western borders or else to block its entry into hydrocarbon rich Central Asian Republics. US must remember that, only sincerity in the negotiations and incorporating its true stake holders and rightful neighbours would bring stability in Afghanistan for its honourable exit, otherwise, the process would remain fragile like ever.

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