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Afghan Peace Process

  • Category
    World Affairs
  • Published
    25th May, 2019
  • Afghanistan’s High Peace Council Secretary and President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Mohammad Umer Daudzai recently visited India.
  • Speaking at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Daudzai said that India’s role is ‘key’ to the peace in Afghanistan.

Issue

Context:

  • Afghanistan’s High Peace Council Secretary and President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Mohammad Umer Daudzai recently visited India.
  • Speaking at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Daudzai said that India’s role is ‘key’ to the peace in Afghanistan.
  • Also, India recently handed over two Mi-24 attack helicopters to Afghanistan. These helicopters are a replacement for the four attack helicopters gifted by India to Afghanistan in 2015.

About:

Background:

  • There has been a continued 25 years of civil war in Afghanistan. An Afghanistan force and Taliban conflict has been sustained during this long time and damage social and economic life make peace elusive for Afghanistan.
  • International efforts especially by US and NATO countries have been failed. They have spent hundreds of billion dollar and army services but no avail.
  • However, today progress towards a peace process is increasingly seen as central to securing a just and stable future. At reconciliation meet in November 2018 by afghan authorities, India was present and the first time all stakeholders were present in the same room.

Analysis

Role of USA in Afghan Peace Process:

  • S. and Taliban negotiators have concluded a draft peace framework. This draft framework was built on years of direct and indirect talks between the two parties.
  • Under the framework, the Taliban would be required to deny safe haven to international terrorist groups like al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed Islamic State, has to enter into direct talks with Afghan government and also agree to declare ceasefire.
  • In exchange, the United States would withdraw forces from Afghanistan within eighteen months of a final agreement.

Contribution of other countries in the process:

  • The effort to achieve this draft peace framework was made possible with the help of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar at various stages.
  • Yet the framework does not make clear what role regional states will play in achieving a final settlement.
  • Just as regional competition fuelled Afghanistan’s long war, regional states have a role to play in resolving it.

Pakistan:

  • Pakistan has been a central participant in all phases of Afghanistan’s long war.
  • The US promised to pursue a pressure strategy aimed at punishing Pakistan for its malign behaviour, including by allowing Taliban leaders and fighters to freely live and organize from its territory.
  • But Pakistani civilian and military leaders feel optimistic about the current draft framework, as its pursuit delayed the escalation of this pressure campaign.
  • The best-case scenario for Pakistan is likely a narrow agreement that does not force it to take responsibility for its past actions in Afghanistan.

China:

  • China’s interests in Afghanistan are most closely aligned with Pakistan, although Beijing’s concerns about violent extremism and terrorism are out of step with Pakistani behaviour.
  • S. and Chinese diplomats have worked together to support an Afghan peace process, and Beijing will want to be involved enough to account for its counterterrorism and border security concerns.
  • China has much to offer in terms of inducements to support a peace agreement in Afghanistan, particularly economically through Belt and Road Initiative investments in Pakistan (the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) or Central Asia (the Silk Road Economic Belt).

Russia

  • Russia hosted a second round of Taliban talks in February 2019 without participation of Afghan government.
  • These talks risk easing pressure on the Taliban and further bolstering its standing, but could be leveraged to help the U.S. diplomatic effort.
  • The U.S. and Afghan governments should find ways to take advantage of Moscow’s efforts and show up to any Russia-hosted talks, even if only to deny the Taliban an uncontested boon.

India

  • With limited options of intervention in Afghanistan, India is playing a role of a responsible democratic country and a true friend and neighbour to the Afghanistan.
  • Indian is engaged with Afghanistan by following ways:
    • Developing social infrastructure as hospitals, schools;
    • Public infrastructure such as Salma dam, and parliament building ;
    • Humanitarian assistance such as medical missions;
    • Training of military officer and soldiers;
    • Military warfare such as military helicopters and repairing the old soviet era helicopters.
  • India is likely concerned that any deal that could introduce the Taliban back into the Afghan government could dilute its political influence in Afghanistan.
  • India’s hedge toward Iran, by investing in the construction of the Chabahar port (the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean), could pave the way for a continuing economic role.
  • But India would probably see a peace agreement, particularly one championed by Pakistan, as a short-term setback to its interests in Afghanistan.

Afghan as an elusive benefit for India:

  • Afghanistan is a gateway for the north-south corridor for India.
  • Afghan have a rich source of oil can help India to full fill their demand.
  • India developed Chahbar port to increase import and export with Afghan and counter Pakistan in West Sea.
  • Elusive peace in afghan can help India project of TAPI.
  • Help India to overcome china one-road-one-belt initiatives.

Effect on India if Taliban comes to power:

  • Pakistan will gain huge strategic influence and India will lose the same.
  • India's access to central India will get affected.
  • After conquering Afghanistan Taliban may turn towards India to increase terror activities.
  • Pakistan will then focus on Indian border only.
  • As China has also raised its stakes it will use it against India.

Reasons for India to be part of reconciliation process with the Taliban:

  • Regional Stability: Security and Stability are foundations over which development can be built on. Peaceful neighbourhood and trouble free regional climate will provide space for the regimes to focus more on development as threats of violence by Taliban’s in the region will be minimized.
  • Counter China and Pakistan's vested interests: India should play a considerable role through Quadrilateral group plus 2 talks to thwart the efforts of china to place puppet regimes which can play according to their own vested interests. This can be counterproductive for India's aspirations and concerns.
  • Connectivity with Central Asia: India's trade with Central Asia and reaping benefits from the enhanced connectivity will be largely dependent on Afghanistan's domestic environment. A peaceful and cooperative Afghanistan will be a key pin in India's central Asia policy. The latest trilateral transit agreement between India. Iran and Afghanistan is a significant step in this direction.
  • TAPI for Energy security: Violence free Afghanistan is desideratum for finishing the project of TAPI and sustaining the benefits from it through energy supplies from Turkmenistan.
  • Gateway to "Link west" policy: Afghanistan will act as a gateway to India's increasing rigour on its west Asia policy.
  • Minerals of Afghanistan: The cost of access to minerals will be minimum and helpful in expanding the production of Indian Industries.

Way forward:

  • India needs to make stands tougher on Afghan issues. India needs to take other stake holders such as Russia and Iran together and make their stand clear.
  • India should be more vocal to USA that leaving Taliban unfinished will leave the region in same or even worse state as it was earlier. Complete surrender of Taliban is good for USA’s and region security.
  • India needs to use soft Image as weapon and it should highlight that Afghan people voice is most important so instead of handing power to any form of government US should try to stabilise region.
  • It is a truth of U.S. policy on Afghanistan that there is no military solution to the conflict. But instead of putting the full power and resources of the United States behind a diplomatic push, successive administrations have chosen to put the military mission first. They have often deployed just enough resources to have an effect on the ground, while minimizing attention from increasingly weary constituents in the United States. It is long past time for a different approach.
  • The U.S.-Taliban draft framework is exactly the type of high-stakes diplomacy needed to end Afghanistan’s long war, or even just the U.S. period of that conflict, which is the longest war in U.S. history.

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

Analyse the role India has played in establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan, what has been its relation with Taliban and how it should pursue further relations with Afghan government and Taliban in the recent context?

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