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Islam and Politics ( 23 March 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Afghan Peace Only Possible Through Broad-Based Negotiations


By Amir Hamza Bangash

Mar 17, 2014

The country that considers itself the ultimate Super Power! and its strategic partners have finally agreed to end the bloody game started more than a decade back.

Karzai government is at talks behind the closed doors with Taliban – based in Afghanistan but alleged to be administered from Pakistan – and has even declined to sign the security agreement with the USA. Pakistani government and the Taliban – which are apparently administered from Afghanistan but operate in Pakistan – are also busy in talks to end the fire started under the supervision of Supreme Power! while the Supreme Power! seems sitting silently in the corner, reading the situation impatiently at both sides of the border.

In this entire scenario, the people are anxiously waiting for some fruitful results as they have really given up, but unfortunately politics is such a merciless game where the powerful care only about their own aims and objectives, irrespective of values, justice and public welfare. No matter who suffers and how much, the winner is the one who crosses that milestone. Indeed, in one way or another, everyone pays for it, in short-term or in long-term; but who cares after all. The power of the powerful decides it.

The recent practice of troubleshooting suggests that all the parties in negotiations have short-term plans of benefits and long-term plans of agony, because the ideal and long-term solution of the issue, based on common sense, suggests something more. Karzai is still a brainy politician, who avoided the faceoff with different stakeholders, but we are indeed exposed. 

The initial committee established by the government of Pakistan and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was really interesting; it contained names of media persons or Taliban apologists. Interestingly, the structure of the committee itself tells us about the story of the results. One should not expect much from the government’s newly-established committee as they don’t have the mandate. However, it shows the seriousness of both the parties in resolving the issue through peaceful dialogue coupled with the show of power, completely creased with the pride, ego and prestige.

If all these selected minds could solve the decade-long war with such a simple mind and tactics, then I am sure this issue would have not emerged. Instead of making the committees and discussing it with them, it would have been much fruitful if the negotiations would have been held in a way that government would have discussed it with its Establishment and all its fractions and by Taliban with its own fractions; then it would have been fruitful.

The motives behind such tactics remain simple: The Taliban and Pakistani Establishment – considered as two sides of the same coin since long – should sit aside and enjoy the pious honeymoon, while the politicians, writers, experts and the public will criticize each other as usual. They will bisect and dissect each other as usual, nobody will blame any of these two (Taliban or Establishment) but everyone will blame the government. If anything good occurs (which is a slight chance), definitely they will claim it as they have sacrificed a lot, against each other.

The recent tactics of the negotiations simply show that all the parties, apparently in conflict with each other, want to buy some more time to decide their future course of action regarding the different organizations. The most important hurdles in this regard are the Security Agreement, which is to be signed between the US and Afghanistan and elections in India and Afghanistan. Imagine the situation: Narendra Modi wins in India and Abdullah Abdullah makes a government in Afghanistan. I assume we would have no way to run, and perhaps it will decide our foreign policy for the next ten years or so. It will be really hard for Pakistan to keep both neighbors busy in such a situation. We would be confined to limited choices.

Pakistani establishment, who often generates and decides on foreign policies of the country, has never been raised in a diplomatic way. It is always good in keeping the best or worst. They know better both extremes, but not the middle ground. It will be indeed good that we wait for the results of both the elections as nothing is going to change much, or it will be the same worthless, fruitless and aimless exercise as practiced in the past.

The only logical, fruitful and long-lasting solution of the issue is that all the parties in the war should sit at one table and decide the future of their interests. This ‘Algebra of Terror’ can’t be solved in pieces, but rather it should be treated in one equation. It will be indeed the test of their nerves and generosity for the sake of greater humanity. It is possible only if Pakistan can forgive the blood of thousands of its innocent people and the martyred foot-soldiers who didn't know the game; if the US can sacrifice the billion-dollar investment in the region; if Afghan government can forget the past and accept multinational structure of its society. If the common aim is peace then it can be achieved easily. However, if the aim is peace through conflict then it cannot be achieved.

The problem is not that one is stranded in the problem, but the real problem is that one is unable or unwilling to understand its problem. The real problem starts when fantasies start replacing the hard realities surrounding the different aspects of the problem. It is the most severe form of a problem when the authority starts deceiving itself and its own people through adorable dreams based on daydreaming.