Accelerated efforts are being made toward Afghan Peace. Afghanistan’s situation for almost four decades has resulted in instability and unrest in the whole region. Afghanistan itself and the entire region has suffered a lot and could not make any economic development. Afghanistan is situated on major trade routes linking Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and Eurasia, China, and the Arabian Sea at Gwadar and Karachi – Pakistan, further linking Africa and Europe.
A stable and safe Afghanistan is a pre-requisite for regional stability and prosperity. There is consensus among all neighbors and stakeholders to Afghanis issue that peace must have prevailed in Afghanistan. Russia and China are significant stakeholders and play a vital role in achieving permanent, sustainable peace in the region.
In this regard, Russia is set to host a conference of the representatives from Pakistan, China, Iran and the US, the Afghan government, and the Taliban on 18 March as part of Moscow’s attempt to break the deadlock slow-moving peace process. Few countries are not sincere with Afghan peace. They exploit instability in Afghan to serve their evil interests; as the State of Israel and India, they are spoilers and not wishing peace in Afghanistan. Spoilers cannot be part of solutions. So India was not invited to Moscow Conference to be held on 18 March 2021.
The Russian foreign ministry confirmed the conference and said the focus would be on “ways to help improvement intra-Afghan talks in Doha, shrink the level of violence and end the armed conflict in Afghanistan and enable it to develop as an independent, peaceful, self-sufficient state that would be free from terrorism and drug trafficking like evils.”
A Foreign Office official said that Pakistan would attend the Moscow meeting as it “supports all efforts that contribute towards peace” in Afghanistan. The Pakistani delegation will be led by Islamabad’s special envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Retired Sadiq, who had served in Kabul as Ambassador of Pakistan and a well-known Afghan issue expert.
Russia is holding the meeting as part of its political and diplomatic initiative to develop a “collective mechanism” for the Afghan peace efforts, which will be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-originated.
Moscow is also strident for hosting the stalled Intra-Afghan dialogue. The negotiations that began in Doha in September made slow progress because of differences between the two sides. The situation became further uncertain after the new US administration decided to review the 29 February 2020 deal.
Against the backdrop, Russia is making efforts to seek Intra-Afghan talks’ resumption while also pursuing a broader regional consensus to achieve an acceptable solution to all-afghans factions and a durable, permanent solution.
For this purpose, Russian presidential special envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Zamir Kabulov recently visited Islamabad and sought Pakistan’s support for Moscow’s initiative. There is complete harmony between Russia and Pakistan on Afghan issues, and they are collaborating sincerely for an early and sustainable solution.
Moscow already hosted a similar meeting in 2018 where the Afghan Taliban were for the first time given an international platform. The US attended the meeting as an observer, which opened the avenues of dialogue between the Taliban and US direct-negotiations in Doha – Qatar.
The development emanated when the US launched a renewed diplomatic push to seek a political solution to the Afghan war, which was unwinnable. The US spent Trillion Dollars, suffered the lives of thousands of its Servicemen, and outnumbered injuries, with some fatal. Yet could not control any significant territory in the intense war for two decades.
The US Secretary of State recently presented the Afghan government with a four-point plan envisaging an UN-sponsored conference of regional players, a new inclusive government, and a 90-day ceasefire. The Biden administration is also seeking to form a “transitional Afghan peace government” to supervise the national elections. All of these and any other option proposed by stakeholders will be discussed and try to build consensus satisfying all stakeholders and Afghan people.
Interestingly, Russia pitched a similar idea seeking an interim government to include the Afghan Taliban and all other political factions.
The US and Afghan governments have accused the Taliban of not fully implementing the Doha accord. The US and NATO insist the troop’s withdrawal is conditioned based. Taliban, however, overruled the allegations that they were not implementing the Doha agreement. The Taliban listed several steps to implement the deal. The statement declared that not a single American soldier was killed since the deal was signed a year ago.
Russia backed the Taliban’s claim, and Ambassador Kabulov alleged the insurgent group “flawlessly” implemented the deal. Contrarily he instead accused the US of not adhering to the accord.
Moscow is seeking a resumption of Intra-Afghan talks but proposing interim government by including all factions, including the Taliban. The Ghani administration related sharply to the Russian proposal and insisted that the current administration had been given a 5-year mandate.
Stakeholders, including Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran, have a broader consensus on the Afghan peace process. They want a permanent political settlement of the Afghan war and also recognize the Taliban as a political entity, as they hold 70% of Afghanistan under their control. Taliban representatives have, in recent years, frequently traveled to these countries.
The convergence among these key regional players aims to prevent Afghanistan from slipping into a civil war, which will threaten these countries.
It is expected, the Moscow Conference will accelerate the peace process and definitely overcome most of the hurdles.