Round after round of negotiations between the United States (US) and Taliban reveals that two sides are inching closer to a peace deal that will end America’s longest war. If the words of the Taliban’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, are to be believed, the two sides are busy in finalising the peace agreement.
Nevertheless, what is worth asking is if the deal will be a watershed moment in the histories of the US and Afghanistan? Or is the US President Donald Trump in a rush to withdraw from Afghanistan? If that is the case, will the solution, that the peace deal holds, be a sustainable one? What kind of withdrawal and peace deal will we be witnessing? These are some of the fundamental questions that need to be addressed before finalising any peace deal. We don’t know much if the two sides, especially the US, have deliberated over these questions or not, the reason being that neither of the two parties has conveyed anything substantial about the negotiations to the world.
Given the unstoppable Taliban attacks targeting the Afghan government, fears are that the so-called peace deal will usher in a new civil war on Afghan society. Such concerns are not a product of overthinking. While the talks were in progress, Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan shook with a suicide attack. That a gun battle ensued between the Afghan forces and the Taliban in the Baghlan province’s Puli Khumri tells us that the US couldn’t persuade the Taliban to give up on violence. The only thing for certain is that the US is in a rush to vacate Afghanistan before the Afghan elections. This rush means that the US is leaving the Taliban to be at the helm of Afghanistan. The rush to strike a peace deal before the elections could be a mistake and its costs for Afghanistan will be profound.
Some analysts argue that a power-sharing agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban will prove instrumental in averting the threats of any civil war. However, the argument is founded on a naïve understanding of the ground situation. Once the foreign troops leave, there will be no one to control the Taliban who believe in the efficacy of violence.
Even if the Taliban agree on a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government, all sides have ignored the Islamic State (IS). The stakeholders have ignored the question of dealing with IS all this time and this will prove a thorny subject in the post-war stability of Afghanistan.