Asfandiyar Wali on ‘Afghan jackpot’
After attending Peace Conference in Kabul, ANP Central President Asfandiyar Wali Khan met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the volatile situation in the region. On the political settlement of Afghanistan, he urged the major world powers including the United States, Russia and China to make joint mediation efforts for paving the way for intra-Afghan dialogue. Reiterating his proposal for the restoration of talks between the United States and the Taliban, ANP Chief suggested that these talks should be led by the sitting Kabul government. The Taliban don not recognise it as the legitimate government although it came to power with the mandate of the people. He emphasised that Afghan government should play a positive role for ending the misunderstanding with Pakistan.
Although worth appreciation, there is nothing new in the proposal of Asfandiyar Wali for achieving the political settlement and formation of a broad-based government in Kabul for restoring durable peace in the war torn Afghanistan. Representative of the United States, Russia and China had held consultative talks in Washington for two consecutive days in the third week of March this year. They discussed how to coordinate their strategies for ending decades’ long war and restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan. These world powers had agreed to continue discussion for further streamlining Afghan peace process because the talks between the United States and the Taliban were moving forward towards a likely peace agreement. US special representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad had taken the European allies of the United States on board before joining the trilateral talks in Washington. But now there seems a paradigm shift in US Afghan policy. President Donald Trump has cancelled the ongoing US-Taliban dialogue process in Doha, citing a reason of continued attacks on NATO and Afghan security forces and civilians by the Taliban. US special envoy to Afghanistan has admitted the failure of Afghan peace talks in a briefing to House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. A statement from Chairman of the Committee Eliot Engel described the peace process dead.
Pakistani leadership has all along sincerely and seiously supported the efforts in trilateral and quartet meeting and Moscow international peace conferences for restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan. These moots paved the way for direct talks between the United States and the Taliban. Strenuous diplomatic efforts had been made to pave the way for meaningful and result oriented intra-Afghan talks involving all Afghan parties. The hosting of Afghan Peace Conference at Burbhan in June signifies the positive role of Pakistan for restoring peace in Afghanistan. The recent trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan is another noteworthy step in this direction.
The United States wants to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the continents of Asia and Europe. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, Defense Secretary Mane Esper urged the European allies to focus on growing economic and military threat from China and Russia. He accused both these world powers of disrupting the US led international order.
Both China and Russia are making serious diplomatic efforts for the broad based political settlement of Afghanistan. In November 2018 Russia succeeded to bring the Afghan leaders including representatives of Kabul government and the Taliban to the international conference in Moscow. Before the commencement of the closed door session, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that participation of Afghan leaders and Taliban was an important contribution aimed at creating favourable condition for the start of direct talks. He emphasised on holding constructive conversations between the sitting government in Kabul, the Taliban and other Afghan stakeholders in line with the hopes of people of Afghanistan. The violence in Afghanistan has gained great momentum before the presidential elections scheduled for September28. There is a dire need of coordinating diplomatic efforts among the world powers and countries of the region for facilitating and promoting intra-Afghan talks and formation of a broad-based government in Kabul to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.