The Afghan Taliban and the US-sponsored Ashraf Ghani government could be again heading towards a deadlock as the US, after its disastrous war with the Taliban, is slated to move out, leaving Ashraf Ghani and Afghan-Taliban to decide their future for themselves.
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However, the two factions i.e. Afghan Taliban and Ashraf Ghani could not decide over the swapping of prisoners and finally, after many turns and twists, Ghani relented to set free the 400 Taliban prisoners on August 14, 2020. The move, which was considered as the final hurdle before the long-delayed peace talks between the two warring sides, could finally make to a start.
According to the France24.Com report, the prisoners include some 44 insurgents of particular concern to the US and other countries for their role in high-profile attacks and Ghani warned that their release was a “danger” to the world.
After the prisoners deal, talks started at Doha. Senior Afghan official Abdullah Abdullah, as a part of ‘ironing out issues’, was on a three-day visit to Pakistan, as Islamabad is considered to play a pivotal role in the whole Afghanistan scenario.
An elaborate article on it in TheConversation throws light about the stakes involved in Afghanistan. The article suggests that the talks have a rocky road to success, as there hasn’t been any consensus whether the Afghan Taliban would snap their ties with Al-Qaida in the post-US-free Afghanistan and that the country would not become the safe haven for fighters after the final withdrawal of the US.
Apart from differences on women’s rights, the challenge will be whether any agreement on a lasting ceasefire can be reached until political progress is made” particularly when the US President Donald Trump is bent to force the agreement before the November 2020 elections.
“It’s likely the negotiators will agree on all these broad principles – except the idea of Afghanistan being a republic. That’s because the Taliban still presents itself as an Islamic emirate forced into exile by the US invasion” in 2001.
In 2020, little is known about the specifics of what the Taliban wants the future Afghan state to look like. However, the group does appear to want an inclusive, Islamic political system in which Shariah laws are enforced” and this is where Ashraf-Ghani finds himself reluctant to give-in. There are also three women member delegates involved in talks at Doha.
However, what has blown the lid is the confidential report by NATO which says that now Taliban are no more to be a rag-tag army, but on the contrary, will be full of prospects of their own financial power, hence, will not be at the mercy of the US or Europe at all.
An extremely important article published in RadioFreeEuropeRadioLiberty has given extensive coverage as to what all are the disclosures the NATO report tells.
“The Taliban’s burgeoning finances could make the militant group immune to pressure from the international community as it negotiates a role in postwar Afghanistan, according to a confidential report commissioned by NATO and obtained by RFERL.
The Taliban “has achieved, or is close to achieving, financial and military independence,” a scenario that could allow the group to renege on key commitments it has made under a U.S.-brokered peace plan aimed at ending the war, the report warns.
The Taliban has expanded its financial power in recent years through increased profits from mining and exports, the report says, estimating that the group earned a staggering $1.6 billion in its last financial year (ending in March 2020).
That financial independence enables the Afghan Taliban to self-fund its insurgency without the need for support from governments or citizens of other countries,” says the report. “Unless global action is taken, the Taliban will remain a hugely wealthy organization, with a self-sustaining funding stream and outside support from regional countries,” it says.
The report was completed before the start of formal peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government that began in the Gulf state of Qatar on September 12. The article in more than 2000 words has appeared to make the world realize that perhaps a very dangerous scenario is what awaits as this time it would be the self-sufficient and self-reliant Afghan Taliban in control of their own destiny and future.
Ironically, the NATO report has also given a message to the Arab nations, who are all-out to embrace Israel. The new Afghanistan would not be a ‘remote-controlled device’ of the outside forces, whether they be the US, European nations, the Gulf states, or even Pakistan.
Afghan Taliban has already started to use their expertise in extracting ‘minerals’ and exporting which has made them earn a living for themselves, unlike what the non-Afghan Taliban governments had engaged in; opium harvesting and trading!
Russia is already supporting the Afghan Taliban and now, China too has come forward to invest in the war-torn nation in exchange for peace. China will also help the Afghan Taliban extract Afghanistan minerals apart from building the infrastructure.
India’s external affairs minister Jaishankar attended the inaugural session of the ‘Doha talks’ on September 15, 2020, in a clear signal to have shed reluctance and engage with the emerging new dispensation in Afghanistan.
While addressing, Jaishankar advocated for a ceasefire between warring parties in Afghanistan and sought a commitment from both the Afghan government and the Taliban representative that Afghan soil would not be used for anti-India activities.
Afghan Taliban is against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is against the Pakistani government and hence, even if there may be a compromise between Ashraf Ghani or an emergence of a unity-government at the most, there is a likelihood that TTP and Afghan Taliban will be at loggerheads.
The latest to come is that the Afghan Taliban has reached the outskirts of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul which means almost the whole of Afghanistan is now under their control, and now it is for all the stake-holders to strive for a bright future instead to give a bloody-nose to each other and descent Afghanistan further into chaos.
Penned By Haider Abbas. The writer is a former State Information Commissioner, India. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics. VIEWS PERSONAL