Shift in Taliban’s stance a good chance for peace

Wednesday, 09 November 2016 04:00 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 228 times

While the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan has apparently been the biggest barrier to Afghan peace process, and the Taliban, as the main insurgent group, have always emphasized on the complete withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan as their precondition for negotiating peace with Afghan government, there have recently been signs that the group’s stance is shifting. 

 

A delegation of Afghan politicians has met with representatives of the Taliban’s Qatar office. The Taliban no longer demanded the full departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan for the resumption of peace talks, Sayed Ishaq Gailani, a member of the visiting team, said, adding that the group wanted an interim government to be formed and presidential election held after two years. These statements come as Sayed Muhammad Tayeb Agha, the former head of Taliban’s Qatar office, had also said in an interview that the departure of all international troops from country as a Taliban precondition for the reconciliation process was not wise and practical.

The recent change in Taliban’s stance can revive hopes for peace in the country.  If the Taliban really agree to shun violence and fighting with the creation of a transitional government, this would be the best solution both to put an end to the bloody Afghan conflict, and offer an appropriate alternative to the current embattled National Unity Government, with which most Afghans are unhappy. 

In addition to the insurgents, other political movements also call for the convention of Loya Jirga, or early election.  The interim government will provide an opportunity for all political sides to choose elections over violence to accede to power. For peace to come, both sides of the conflict have to be poised to compromise on their demands. If the Taliban step back on some of their conditions, their remaining demands, if logical, should be accepted.  

Peace doesn’t mean surrender, and both sides can put forward their rational demands. As a party to the conflict, the militants also have the right to raise their views and demands, which should be taken up. By setting some hard-to-satisfy conditions to please some elements, the government should not impel the Taliban to continue fighting. Given the status quo and the ground realities, peace process is the best option to settle the Afghan conflict, and should be prioritized. The government should utilize the shift in Taliban’s stance to first reach a ceasefire with the group as soon as possible through direct negotiations, and then pave the ground for a lasting peace in the country.