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Uzbekistan- draftsman of the bumpy road to Afghan Peace Process

Sojla Sahar

The peace process of Afghanistan is currently the center of concentration for the whole political world. All eyes are closely screening the changing situations between the actors, every step is being considered as a ray of hope for a peace and stable world predominantly in the war-torn Afghanistan.

In the long-devastating conflict Afghanistan was not only wounded. Along with it its neighboring countries suffered immensely at the cost of its people and economy. One of these countries is Uzbekistan. A state that is the pioneer and founder of the Afghan peace talks.

Uzbekistan was one of those states that struggled to bring the conflict actors on the negotiating table. Afghan peace process is considered as the outcome of Uzbekistan’s uninterrupted efforts for initiating dialogues between the direct and indirect actors. The Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov met with the Taliban’s back in 2019 in the capital of Doha, Qatar. At the meeting, Mullah Beradar endorsed the sincere and endless efforts of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for initiating the peace process and for the political, economic endeavors in Afghanistan.

In June 2018, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced for the first time that it was establishing contacts with the Taliban members that were reportedly invited to but they declined to participate in the conference. As Taliban’s were not ready to come into the spotlight at an international conference.

Later, they agreed to come to Tashkent in August 2018. It was for the first time that the Taliban’s agreed to come into the limelight since their participation at the 6+2 meeting that was held in Tashkent in 1999. It was entirely the result of Uzbekistan’s diplomatic efforts for peace and economic prosperity that compelled the Taliban’s to show trust on them and attend the conference.

Uzbekistan capitalized on the fact that neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban’s were ready for engaging into negotiations with each other due to long-standing lack of trust and difference of agendas.

This international high-level conference hosted by Uzbekistan on “Afghanistan peace process Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity”. This conference is considered as the foundation of current ongoing Afghan Peace Process. This conference accelerated the process of peace settlement in Afghanistan.

The developments of the conference set the building blocks for long-lasting peace in Afghanistan. The developments included, firstly, settling the basic principles of a peaceful settlement and the achievement of a extensive international consensus on them, secondly, development of mechanism for launching negotiations between Afghan government and the armed opposition. Thirdly, the adoption of roadmap for the international community to assist in the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. Lastly it was strong-willed with undisputed plea of the entire direct and indirect actors to the armed to opposition to engage into dialogues with an aim to put an end to the violence.

The intermediary role played by Uzbekistan played a pivotal role in engaging both rivals into negotiations. Currently this is being considered as the miracle of the century. Uzbekistan did its job, shifted messages between both the direct actors- the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban’s. These efforts resulted in alteration of perception of both actors and compelled them to drop their guns and talk about the future of Afghan people and work together for the sake of beaming light for bright future in the eyes of sufferers of war.

Uzbekistan has a significant and immensely strong position in the Afghan peace process. Tashkent has clarified it goal for Afghan peace process by saying that Tashkent wants the rule of Afghan people on their land and the Afghan peace process should be managed by Afghan people themselves without unwanted and unnecessary interference of other countries. It’s about Afghan people so it should be them deciding for their future and not the outsiders.

Ending the long-devastating conflict of Afghanistan and efforts of Uzbekistan for the speedy launch of Afghan peace process are being recognized by the U.S as well. US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad also speaks about the crucial role of the Tashkent Forum, recognizing that “the conference laid a solid foundation for achieving current practical results.” It was after this conference that direct negotiations between the American side and the Taliban were launched, the ultimate result of which was the signing of the Agreement between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, in the capital of Qatar.

It outlined almost all the important conditions for achieving peace in the country – a reduction in violence, the withdrawal of foreign troops, the release of prisoners, and as a result, the launch of inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue.

The signatories of this important Agreement, including the head of the political office of the Taliban in Qatar, Mulla Baradar, expressed their sincere gratitude to Uzbekistan, along with other key countries, for their assistance in promoting the peace process.

In an interview to the Frontier Posts, the ambassador of Uzbekistan to U.S. and Canada, H.E Javlon Vakhalov confirmed the strong interest in further development and regional cooperation. He also highlighted the willingness of Uzbekistan in reconstruction and rebuilding of the Afghanistan infrastructure and institutions. Ambassador also highlighted the importance of trade and economic prosperity for both countries and talked about Uzbekistan’s “Neighbors First Policy” adopted by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Uzbekistan has been supporting the narrative of political settlement by the Afghan people while respecting their will. This will also bring end to drug mafias operating in the region, rule of warlords and end to the division in the society. Peace in Afghanistan will bring mutual regional cooperation, foreign investment and economic prosperity in the developing region of Central Asia.

Peace in Afghanistan holds importance for peace throughout the region as war and violence has direct impact on the fragile economies of Central Asia that are struggling to stabilizes and prosper. Unrest in the South of Uzbekistan will bring unrest and bloodshed in their state. Currently, peace is crucial for whole of the region; there is not an option to opt for another long war and foreign interventions. All the actors either direct or indirect have lost immensely and now there is not much space for bearing any more loss.

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