Peace talks slow in Afghanistan, but US must not abandon them now

Afghanistan continues to suffer from deadly violence as the historic Taliban-Afghan peace talks are underway thousands of miles away in Doha, Qatar. These talks brokered by the United States follow the US-Taliban agreement signed on February 29, under which a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire would be an item on the agenda for intra-dialogue and negotiations. -afghanes “to discuss the terms of a possible agreement”. on Afghanistan’s future political roadmap.

Other issues addressed by the deal were the withdrawal of US troops, the reduction of violence, and the Taliban’s commitment that Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations do not act in Afghanistan.

For its part, the United States agreed to reduce the number of troops from 12,000 to 8,600 in 135 days and to phase out all American soldiers over 14 months. President Donald Trump told reporters last week that the number of US military personnel in Afghanistan would be reduced “very soon over the next two weeks, to 4,000 – less than 4,000. And then we’ll make that final decision a little more. late.

The Nineteen Years War was a disaster: an estimated $ 2 trillion cost the United States, more than 2,000 American soldiers and 157,000 Afghans died. Afghan civilians, especially women, are disproportionately affected most.

The Doha negotiations are being conducted by a contact group on each side to determine the rules and procedures for the next round of formal talks to chart the course for a post-war Afghanistan. Progress is slow and there is mutual recognition of the need for patience.

At the start of the talks, the Taliban insisted on the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence to guide rules and procedures. For the Taliban, it is not enough that the country is already governed by an Islamic system; they want it to be even more Islamic.

During negotiations, the ceasefire is the priority of the Afghan government. But for the Taliban, significant progress in the talks must precede a ceasefire, and some of its leaders insist that the ceasefire will only follow after a power-sharing agreement has been concluded. been concluded.

During five years in power between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban banned women from going to school, holding a job, and even leaving their homes without a male escort. The women were beaten for not wearing a burqa. Thus, an agreement on women’s right to education, work and political participation is essential for Afghans.

No woman is part of the Taliban delegation, while the Afghan government delegation has five. Taliban negotiators told reporters that while they might accept a few women in government, they would not “support a woman prime minister or a woman in the country’s high court.”

U.S. Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, assuring members that women’s and minority rights are a top priority for the United States and that they have not been abandoned in the negotiations.

Despite having a major stake in the future of Afghanistan, India had remained on the sidelines of the US-Taliban negotiations, but it has now decided to engage in the process. The reason: He wants to thwart Pakistan’s attempt to install the Taliban as proxy in Kabul, fearing that Pakistan’s terrorist ties to the Taliban could endanger India’s interests in the region. He also fears that with the US withdrawal, China will fill the void and that the Sino-Pakistani economic corridor will extend to Afghanistan. China plans to play a central role even if it is not directly involved in the conflict due to its power, proximity and above all the attraction of Chinese investments in the post-war economic development of China. Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is at a crossroads, people there thirst for peace and stability, which they have dreamed of for 40 years. He wants to maintain the progress he has made in the areas of human and minority rights, media freedom and the building of democratic institutions. The future remains uncertain, but the United States must not abandon the country again, which it did after helping the Mujahedin push the Russians out of their territory.

Ved Nanda is a distinguished university professor and director of the Ved Nanda Center for International Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. His column appears on the last Sunday of each month and he accepts comments at [email protected]

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