Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated on Wednesday the second Kabul Process with the theme Peace and Security Cooperation at Kabul, Afghanistan.
Ghani made a strong pitch to bring back the Taliban on negotiating table to ‘save the country’. He reiterated his government’s commitment to end 16-year-old long war that resulted in blood-bath. He announced to free up some Taliban prisoners as a welcome gesture to start dialogue but stressed that Taliban must shun violence. The remarks are significant as President Ghani himself has referred to Taliban as ‘terrorists’. He also said his government is working in the direction to give visa facilities to family members of Taliban leaders and to lift sanctions imposed on them.
Just a day before the peace conference, Taliban held behind the door meetings with USA in Doha, Qatar. Taliban is in favor of direct talks with the USA as it thinks the elected government in Afghanistan runs from Washington. Taliban had demanded withdrawal of US security forces and NATO as a precondition to peace talks. Al-Jazeera reported that a Taliban official said:
“Our struggle is for the liberation of the country. It is not a power struggle. How can a liberation struggle be deemed complete without foreign forces pulling out?”
USA earlier on two occasions rejected a similar offer as withdrawal of its forces could plunge the war-torn country into civil-war.
USA has earlier announced its new policy in Afghanistan policy which is outcome based and not time bound. The change came in the backdrop of Chinese moves in the region. Chinese presence in Pakistan and a massive infrastructure project in the form of a ‘great wall’ has made the Pentagon worry. Also to check Pakistan’s activities and to give security to the nascent state of Afghanistan USA’s presence is indispensable.
Warning Bell for India
The recent announcement to have dialogue with Taliban leadership and its recognition as a political force will seriously jeopardize India’s stake in Afghanistan. India has consistently opposed the role of terror outfits and fundamentalists to run the government. India had no diplomatic relations with the earlier Taliban govt formed in 1996. Also Pakistan had long used Afghan Taliban to wage proxy war against India and to serve its interest in Afghanistan. India has invested heavily in building massive infrastructure and has shown a new ray of hope to the Afghan people. A new Taliban govt in Kabul will defeat all the gains made by India so far.
Representatives of 25 countries and organizations including NATO and UN attended the Kabul Process held on 28th February, 2018.