QUESTION : Discuss the future aspect of actual progress in Intra-Afghan talks and challenges before India at the same time.
ANOTHER AFGHAN PEACE PUSH AND A ROLE FOR INDIA
Topic- Taliban Peace Pact
WHY IN NEWS ?
In¬tra-¬Afghan talks bringing the Taliban face¬-to-¬face with representatives of the Afghanistan govern¬ment and Afghan civil society has finally started in Doha.
The talks are a key outcome of the U.S. ¬ Taliban and U.S. ¬ Afghanistan agreements.
BACKGROUND OF US AND AFGHANISTAN WAR :
The war in Afghanistan was launched by the US in 2001 after the 9/11 attack. The US-led coalition aimed to overthrow the Taliban.
More than 2,400 US troops have been killed during the conflict.
About 12,000 are still stationed in the country. President Trump has promised to put an end to the conflict.
US- TALIBAN PEACE DEAL COMPRISES OF :
• Troops withdrawal– US and Taliban signed an agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, which will enable the US and NATO to withdraw troops in the next 14 months.
• Taliban commitment-The main counter-terrorism commitment by the Taliban is that Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
• Sanctions removal-
UN sanctions on Taliban leaders to be removed by three months (by May 29, 2020) and US sanctions by August 27, 2020.
The sanctions will be out before much progress is expected in the intra-Afghan dialogue.
• Prisoner release– The US-Taliban pact says up to 5,000 imprisoned Taliban and up to 1,000 prisoners from “the other side” held by Taliban “will be released” by March 10. This process took longer than originally foreseen but has now been completed.
It has been identified as another potential “trouble spot”.
The agreement states ceasefire will be simply “an item on the agenda” when intra-Afghan talks start and indicate actual ceasefire will come with the “completion” of an Afghan political agreement.
CHALLENGES AHEAD OF INDIA ARISING FROM THIS PACT :
INDIA’S DILEMMA –
India should reconsider its current policy that a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan must come through an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled process” (considering that the elected Afghan Government is hardly in control of the peace process).
India might, consider the option of entering into direct talks with the Taliban. But, If India does so, it would constitute a major departure from its consistent policy of dealing only with recognized governments.
INTERESTS OF MAJOR POWERS IN THIS AGREEMENT :
• US– The peace talks provide U.S. President Donald Trump an exit opportunity weeks before his re-election bid.
• European Union– It has made it clear that its financial contribution will depend on the security environment and the human rights record.
• China– It can always lean on Pakistan to preserve its security and connectivity interests.
• Russia– Blocking the drug supply and keeping its southern periphery secure from extremist influences is key.
WAY FORWARD :
• As much as the prospect for peace in Afghanistan depends on actual progress in the intra-Afghan talks, what is equally essential is regional consensus to support the peace process.
• India’s vision of a sovereign, united, stable, plural and democratic Afghanistan is one that is shared by a large constituency in Afghanistan, cutting across ethnic and provincial lines.
• India should increase its active engagement in the peace process which would allow it to work with like-minded forces in the region to ensure that the vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal does not lead to an undoing of the progress made so far.