Time to prioritize peace parleys

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 03:40 Written by  Heart of asia Read 85 times

Afghan government and its western allies have continued to lay great emphasis on war following the failure of the quartet peace initiative launched by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China.  Also, the Afghan peace process was not appropriately discussed at the key Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, and even US Foreign Secretary of State John Kerry, as the architect of the National Unity Government (NUG), threatened the Taliban in his speech to the summit.


While the repeated setbacks in the peace process are certainly a challenge, it should not be treated as the end of the road. Although accomplishing peace through a dialogue in a country like Afghanistan which has been suffering from war for decades may not be easy, it is doubtlessly possible. The settlement of decades-long dissidence necessitates patience, perseverance, and continued dialogue. Working out a negotiated settlement to a complex conflict such as that of Afghanistan involving multiple actors requires time and exploration of different approaches.
The quadrilateral process ended up in debacle due to the non-fulfillment of commitments by Pakistan was only one of such approaches which did not lead to peace and stability in the country; however, it brought together representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government for the first time ever. It was the first ever direct talks between Afghan officials and the militants.
 
The collapse of the quartet process, which was highly expected to yield fruits, was certainly a huge blow and challenge to peace efforts, but it should not be used as a justification to continue the war. While Afghan government and its foreign supporters have ever since focused their efforts on fighting against Taliban, the experience of the past decade and half showed that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. 
Given the country’s deteriorating security situation, and the rising casualties among Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ADNSF), there is a dire need for the resumption of the reconciliation process. The government which is in a state of disarray and has lost the ability to contain the situation, must prioritize peace talks. The continuity of the status quo, in which the government neither can gain an upper hand nor shows willingness to come to the negotiating table, is in the interests of none, but the enemies of Afghanistan.
Afghan sides to the conflict have to exercise tact, and pursue their ends through peaceful and political means. Furthermore, the international community, including America and regional powers, should also seek their interests in Afghan peace, not the protraction of war.