By Mushtaq Rahim
Published on Pajhowk News Agency website on 5 May 2015 after first published here (http://peace.pajhwok.com/ps/node/209)
The Afghan Government and International community has finally realized that the times of “Wining the Battles” have long passed. Recognition of the fact that every conflict has an end in talks and negotiation only dawned on them after nearly a decade long arm struggle against a handful Taliban throughout the country, particularly in the south. The revelation of need for talks only happened after heinous battles across the country leaving scores of civilians affected in collateral damage besides casualties to the conflict actors i.e. Taliban, International Community backed government and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF).
Though late, pursuing the solution in reconciliation and peacemaking process is a commendable initiative. In line with “better late than never” the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) reveals to be a step forward in the right direction. Particularly, backing offered by the International Community and “go ahead” offered by the Afghans adds credibility to the reconciliation and peacemaking efforts.
Nevertheless, to achieve a positive result from an effort has to be aligned to a couple of basic principles. Firstly, it has to be motivated by sincerity of purpose and right intention. Secondly, the process has to be commenced on a right footing and technically correct basis. Unfortunately, the Afghan peace process lacks both of the principles and as such a hope of an affirmative outcome starts diminishing.
The peace process has been adopted as a way out of the Afghan conflict by the international community only at the verge of their draw down from Afghanistan. Otherwise, Afghans in general have been suggesting throughout the course of last decade that reconciliation can be a beginning of a lasting peace in Afghanistan. Even Afghan Government took some initiatives during mid-2000s by instigating its own version of peace and reconciliation program under the leadership of former president and ex-chairman of senate Sebgahtullah Mujadidi. It is though mentionable that it proved a milking cow and another political bribe for the elderly professor. However, the international community continued to muscle its way arrogantly. In other words, the intention is not to help Afghanistan achieve lasting peace but rather is a quest for easy passage out of Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the Government and predominantly president Karzai is using the peace process for continued degradation of his political opposition blooming from north of the country. The senior mediators assigned to the program are almost all those individuals that president want to remain busy in something and as such do not oppose the government. Lack of sincere intention, however, is also lacking in Taliban camp as well and justifiably so as they know that instead of taking a piece of cake, why not vie for the whole chunk after the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2014.
Lack of pious intention and sincerity is coupled with technical incompetency of the program which paves the way for a catastrophic end of the program. First and foremost, the program is launched with a one way approach i.e. seeking Taliban to join the peace process. It is mainly focused on reaching out to Taliban for reconciliation and joining the national mainstream. Unfortunately, Taliban have replied back more than once negatively by slaying the peace interlocutors.