The stakeholders of the Afghan conflict are giving positive signals to jell together and move forward on the peace process. Talking to the outgoing Ambassador of Afghanistan Shukrullah Atif Mashal, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quershi urged Kabul government to seize the historic opportunity for negotiating a comprehensive and broad-based inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan. On the recommendation of Loya Jirga, President Ashraf Ghani has issued a decree to release 400 of 5000 Taliban prisoners.
The release of these prisoners was a major condition of Taliban for entering into talks with government in Kabul. The removal of this hurdle will make the political environment more conducive for intra-Afghan dialogue, the first round of which is expected to be held next week although no firm date has been announced as yet. The Taliban had also put the condition of withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan to streamline the peace process. US Defence Department Pentagon has stated the phase-wise withdrawal of US troops will continue during the next four months and their number will be reduced less than 5000 till November. Pentagon is treating foreign troops’ reduction as inevitable for the forward movement of peace process.
Taliban have dropped the hint of giving more space to President Ashrag Ghani government in talks for political settlement. Their spokesperson in political office in Doha Subhail Shaheen said in an interview with Voice of America that Taliban would enter into negotiation with the intention of finding a solution to the conflict and expressed the hope that sitting Afghan government will demonstrate flexibility to facilitate forward the success of peace process. Meanwhile, another Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid has cautioned against the possibility of attack by ISIS (Daesh) terrorists on the prisoners to be released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison. The Taliban spokesperson has also pointed an accusing finger on officials of Afghan Intelligence Service. His fears are genuine if looked into the context of recent attack on a prison in Jalalabad.
India does not want a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. It is playing a visible role of spoiler to torpedo the US-Taliban peace deal. The spike in terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan on civilians and Afghan government forces in the past few months by ISIS Khorasan and other terrorist outfits under its umbrella amply explains it. There is no iota of doubt that India wants Afghanistan destabalised to keep this region in turmoil. The contents of former Indian spymaster Vikrim Sood’s book titled, “The Unending War” clearly tells it. Pakistan and other countries of the region including Central Asian States, China, Iran and even Russia are worried about the presence of sanctuaries of ISIS and other terrorists outfits inside Afghanistan and their spell-over effect on other countries, which will endanger the security situation in the region. It is high time that the US and other world powers take cognizance of India’s destabilizing role in Afghanistan. Moreover, before the total withdrawal of its forces, the US must lead an Iraq-Syria style military operation for wiping out ISIS Khorasan and other terrorist outfits that are operating under its umbrella.