Although the United States is finalizing its exit plan from Afghanistan, there are still huge challenges that need talks with the Taliban hold some guarantee. Under the prevailing situation the ground reality reveals that the Afghanistan is not conducive for any massive shift, which will be a major setback to the already volatile conditions devoid the support of Taliban and would mean another stormy phase in the history of Country.
Therefore, the decision to transfer security responsibilities to the Afghan National Forces by 2014 would not serve the interests of either country as peace will not come simply by setting out a transition plan. What is in fact needed is a political transition that will settle disputes between all the ethnic groups and militant factions for the future stability of Afghanistan.
Unsurprisingly the war in Afghanistan has in fact reached a stalemate and though the United States is preparing for the final phase of its long journey in the Country by shifting its troops to support role only, however, the talks for negotiated settlement have so far yielded a few clear results. Under such circumstances the country will not be able to stand on its own to secure itself from the challenges ahead and there is fear that once the exit process is completed the country will again descend into civil war, the result will be disintegration.
Indeed, the stability in Afghanistan depends on having a government being reasonably representative to further determine in achieving the objectives of self-government on the lines to provide with a kind of governance that would truly secure the country. Hence, there must be a political deal with the Taliban to accommodate their leaders in the future setup. In that case they will not stand in the way of things like broadening access to education and above all they will help the country move away from corruption besides ensuring peace and stability.
As it is an undeniable fact that the Taliban is still a living force in Afghanistan and their presence can be witnessed in almost every piece of land beyond the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base. The US invasion definitely dispersed them from their strongholds but the actual situation reveals that they are still dynamic and organized particularly for the past few years, during which we have witnessed some more planned attacks on Nato and Afghan security forces.
That's why peace talks with the Taliban were long been regarded as an integral part of any future strategy for Afghanistan and the need is now being felt more vigorously than any other time to secure the country from the obstacles ahead.
But unfortunately, the United States for years now ignored the fact that the talks with the Taliban and other ethnic groups were in the best interests of the entire region. Anyhow after years of refusal, the United States has finally agreed to the fact that the talks are the only way out to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Better late than never, it has finally accepted the harsh reality that the future stability of Afghanistan depends on political reconciliation with the Taliban. But now much will depend on its strategy to pursue the peace process till it culminates in ultimate guarantee to enduring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
For this purpose, the United States would have to ensure that the peace efforts guarantee stability, strengthening governance and rule of law, building understanding and capacity in conflict prevention, mitigation of problems and resolution of disputes for the Afghanis and their institutions.
Besides these efforts must be intensified as an accelerated diplomatic push would be required in the months ahead to ensure stability not only in Afghanistan but in the wider region as well. As such the United States would have to stay involved in Afghanistan and in addition to enhancing its capability to fight back any major threat to the country's stability; it should invest through diplomacy, development, education and trade particularly in those areas where extremism flourished.
It is premature to predict what would be the outcome of the peace efforts involving the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan but one thing is sure that if the Taliban get share of power, they will manage to avert the threat of civil war that has reduced the country to ruins only.
However, there is a will there is a way and the best is yet to come as hope is always there, the Washington is scaling back its relationship with the regional partners on more willing terms by accepting to the fact that its success in Afghanistan depends on having a partnership that is committed to face the challenges ahead. So there are more chances that the talks would have some promising results.
To weigh all factors, there are some signs emerging that the peace process is gaining momentum and both the Afghan and Pakistan Governments are making progress in their drive to persuade the Taliban to put down arms and to come forward to play their part in the Country's development. In this respect, the recent developments that head efforts to make peace with the Taliban are worth mentioning:
First; scores of suspected Afghan militants were released from jail; most of them detained by the US led troops hunting down Taliban militants and were held at Bagram airfield before being transferred into Afghan custody. The US officials were fully supportive on taking this unilateral decision on the releases.
Although this act was criticized by many analysts and termed that the Afghan Government is taking some bold steps to kick-start peace talks with the Taliban before the Afghan Army and Police take on responsibility of security. However the Afghan authorities assured that they have signed a pledge from them that they will not involve in any militant activity. While the defence ministry and the high peace council clarified that they were released after many processes of investigation and evaluation.
Secondly, Pakistan has released some top brass Taliban leaders from its custody to bring the Taliban to the negotiations table. Although Pakistan was long been accused of supporting Afghan insurgents, it has sent the strongest signals that it will deliver on the promises to help Kabul and the United States on the stability of Afghanistan.
The peace efforts by the Afghan Government, the Pakistan and the United States together would of course defuse the prevailing tension and unrest to a large extent but in the long run much more would be required, involving all the options on table. As only a long term policy and broad based approach could resolve the decade's long dispute. The approach that is based on national interests and sovereignty to strengthen democracy in addition to enhancing capability of the Afghan security forces and that can be reached through peaceful negotiations with all the stakeholders.
It is only after that the desired objectives can be achieved-the objectives that were long been cherished from all sides. And it is only then the transition of responsibility about security situation in Afghanistan from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan National Security Forces could be made in the best interests of the masses.(The Frontier Post)