The Turkish Foreign Ministry has said on Wednesday that the much-anticipated Istanbul conference for the Afghan peace process has been postponed to a later date, however, Ministry expressed resolve to continue its efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan. The Istanbul conference was scheduled to held on April 24-May 04 through tri-parties efforts including UN, Turkey, and Qatar. The purpose of the conference was to reenergize the stalled Intra-Afghan Peace Process; however, the efforts were failed for the time being. Earlier, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told the media that the group would not participate in Istanbul Conference. According to the reports, the Taliban had asked the US to guarantee the release of their 7000 prisoners and the removal of UN sanctions on the Taliban’s leaders in exchange for the group’s participation in the Istanbul Conference. However, Afghan government conditioned the release of prisoners with ceasefire commitment by the Taliban. Reports suggest that Pakistan was asked to use its influence to motivate Taliban for participation in Istanbul conference, but its efforts could not prove to be fruitful in front of Taliban.
The world had been urging the conflicting Afghan Parties for peace during the decades long war, particularly in post-Soviet era during 1990s but conflicting armed groups did not budge to international calls and continued the fight for their personal interests. The anarchy led to the emergence of Taliban, who plunged the country in another war through their association with Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. After, 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan went into another war which lasted for two decades. Now, the world again brought the opposing Afghan parties at the table and trying to end the conflict so the Afghan people could live in a peaceful and dignified manner in their country. However, the egoistic approach of both sides Afghan government and the Taliban and moved the deal toward catastrophe. Both sides had sticked to their personal agenda instead of securing the future of the people of Afghanistan who had suffered over four decades due to self-centered agenda of the Afghan leadership over the past four decades.
As learnt, a high-level Pakistani delegation consisting both military and political representatives is visiting Kabul to held in depth discussion on current situation of the Afghan Peace Process. On other hand United States, had clearly stated out its policy to leave the Afghanistan in coming days, however, it announced to continue its financial assistance for some specific sectors of Afghan society including improving access to essential services, promoting economic growth, fighting corruption and narcotics trade, delivery of health and education services, supporting women’s empowerment, strengthening Afghan civil society and media. However, any such and other assistance would be minimal and on yearly basis. The United States would not extend a blank cheque to Afghan government or people for any purpose after it withdrew troops out of the country. All such commitments would be subject to the approval of the US Congress. It was a historic opportunity for Afghan Parties to forge the peace in their country through a win win position instead of securing their group interests. If, once US get out of the country without any solid future arrangements, the country can plunge into similar situation of 1990s and the dream for peace could not be fulfilled. So, both parties must act wisely, either fulfill each other demand or put it to grand agreement between them and join the peace process to achieve lasting peace in the country.