Stability is Core to Peace in Afghanistan By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

NEEDLESS to say, there is an international understanding to render a stable, viable, and sustainable Afghanistan, the world community needs to foster a comprehensive programme to promote peace through dialogue and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

It goes without saying that anchoring a new social contract between state and society is pivotal to sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

But a true insight into the Afghan syndrome, says that the dream of the Afghan peace process faces a mammoth challenge —manifested by a fundamental lack of confidence among the warring parties and the faction groups in the Afghan society as a whole.

Hence a new radical approach is required from within and outside Afghanistan to build peace incrementally.

This starts with measures to reduce violence as an essential enabler to increase dialogue towards a more inclusive social contract that can involve all of Afghan society – men and women.

The steps that could be more pragmatically taken include the following measures:

1-Reorient strategy to prioritise the reduction of violence as an essential foundation to address underlying political issues.

2. Support local initiatives for the establishment and expansion of peace zones in which Taliban opt to renew their ceasefire

3. The international community must support Taliban who cooperate in de-escalation in asserting the legitimacy of their rejection of violence by not making them take stands which might compromise their status among their Taliban peers.

4. Develop realistic options for pro-peace Taliban groups to reduce their dependence on external support, for example by expanding their access to health-care in urban areas.

5. Ensure top-down and bottom-up elements of the incremental peace strategy work in synchronization by enhancing Track One effort to engage the Taliban leadership in dialogue alongside local engagement with Taliban through the peace zones.

6. Establish a hybrid (state and non-state) International Contact Group to work with the Afghan High Peace Council to marshal support for the incremental strategy and assist in monitoring compliance with violence-reduction commitments. Long-term steps to renegotiate an inclusive social contract.

7. Launch a National Peace Dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict, including transitional justice and women’s meaningful participation, with opportunities for armed and unarmed actors to participate.

8. Establish a high-level independent consultative group on political and economic reform and renewal of the social contract which draws on deliberations in the National Peace Dialogue.

9. Establish a Peace and Security Commission of senior national and international men and women to ensure that Security Sector Reform efforts reinforce the peace process.

10- In the given situation, there appears an urge of establishing an interim government in Afghanistan with the consensus of the Afghan groups. The role of the regional peace stakeholders must coincide with the growing needs.

It is an established fact that presently the Afghan society seems to be moving toward no worthy direction. There is a need that the local Afghans must reject any adventurous forces seeking anarchy in Afghanistan.

Although the Taliban have at times been credited with being good at maintaining security through very heavy-handed means, yet they have had no technocratic understanding of how to perform the other functions of government. For this, they require a competent strategy.

As for China’s role in the post-war reconstruction phase, the Chinese expert Pan Guang, a senior expert on counter-terrorism and Afghan studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on last Sunday that “in order to prevent the situation from spilling over, China has already started counter-terrorism cooperation with other countries in the region including Tajikistan and Pakistan to strengthen border control.”

What China could do is to participate in providing investment to help the country’s future development, Pan said.

Currently, Russia is interested in a stable, predictable and neutral Afghanistan. The territory of this country shares a long border with friendly Central Asian countries.

They, in turn, have a visa-free regime with Russia and are bound by joint agreements within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). It is in this backdrop, Moocow has announced to retain its diplomatic core in Kabul.

Likewise, the voice of Brussels echoes that the EU will engage in dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan to prevent a “humanitarian and potential migratory disaster”, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday (17 August) after an emergency video conference of 27 member states’ foreign ministers.

“Cooperation with any future Afghan government will be conditioned on a peaceful and inclusive settlement and respect for the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and persons belonging to minorities, as well as respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations, commitment to the fight against corruption and preventing the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorist organisations,” the statement read.

The Taliban have promised women’s rights, media freedom, and amnesty for government officials in the group’s first news conference after taking charge of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the armed group’s spokesman, said on Tuesday that the rights of women will be protected within the framework of Islam.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey are positively intended to engage with the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, China, and Russia, they all want to see a stable and sustainable Afghanistan in terms of political, social, and economic stability.

To that end, post-war Afghanistan needs a Marshal like plan — a plan that was given to Europe to meet the needs in the post www11 phase.

But to replicate and foster such graciousness of cooperation requires a collective reconstruction approach by all international peace holders.

In this regard, the Biden Administration callous announcement to freeze approximately 9 billion Afghan dollars is by no means a positive and judicious approach demonstrated by Washington at this critical time of the Afghan nation.

Beyond 31 August, Washington must think in terms of searching for a viable, peaceful course in Afghanistan instead of isolating its role in reconstructing the future of Afghanistan.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.​

Source: Published in pakobserver on 26th August 2021

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