Olive branch or trap
The US military commanders are talking about the prospects of Afghan peace talks with emphasis on Pakistan’s role in political settlement of the conflict. Increasing prospects of peace talks with the Taliban shows that US strategy in Afghanistan is working despite continuing violence and insurgents control over wide areas of the country side, top US military commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson said on Monday. He told reporters the advancement towards reconciliation the goal in President Trump’s strategy has seen progress last year and that is significant.
“I believe this advancement towards peace is extremely relevant and in a way is perhaps more important than some of these metrics we have been using. However, the Central Command Chief, General Joseph Votel, in his visit of Kabul, expressed “cautious optimism” about the progress made. He said the strategy, which set no deadline for US forces to leave Afghanistan, squeezed the Taliban and created space for diplomatic and social pressure.
A senior military official, while speaking to media at Central Command Headquarter in Florida on Thursday, said that General Joseph Votel has described Pakistan’s cooperation vital in achieving peace in Afghanistan. He said this South Asia strategy and cooperation from Pakistan remains a key to accomplishing the overall objective of durable settlement in Afghanistan. “We continue to work closely with Pakistan to help them fulfill the important role that they have indicated they want to play. Now is the time for them to step forward,” said Votel while reiterating the US administration stance to do more.
Almost a year after US President Donald trump sent more troops to Afghanistan and give military commanders more authority to use air strikes against the Taliban, thousands of civilians are still being killed and wounded the Kabul government holds no more than two third of the country. The US forces surge is mainly focused on the Taliban, ignoring the threat from ISIS and their affiliate militant outfits to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and the stability of the region.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are making joint efforts for restoration of mutual trust to facilitate the implementation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). Pakistan has remained actively engaged in all peace initiatives to end the lingering Afghan conflict. It participated in tripartite jump-start conference with Russia and China that was held in Moscow in December 2016 and attended the follow up regional peace initiative held in February 2017. Again Pakistan participated in 12 party international peace conference hosted by Russia in Moscow in April, 2017. It also contributed its sincere efforts in the trilateral and quartet peace moots.
The US has started a triangular cold war against Russia and China whereas these world powers have shown greater interest in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. According to Professor Michael Clare, “a permanent campaign to contain Russia and China in Eurasia has begun. The US has also shown concern with Gawadar, CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative. The new cold war will impact the efforts that are being made for achieving peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always fulfilled its commitments while remaining a staunch ally of the United States in this region but the latter has ditched it time and again after achieving its strategic objectives.