Afghan Peace Deal Must Include Withdrawal Of Foreign Forces
Abdul Qayyum Kundi argues that America is merely seeking to reduce its presence in Afghanistan while avoiding the withdrawal of forces. Pakistan will continue facing the pressure on its economy, society, and politics as long as there are foreign forces in Afghanistan.
There are multiple reports that America and the Afghan Taliban have already agreed on a reduction in violence agreement for a seven to ten days period. If this succeeds then there will be an agreement for permanent ceasefire and initiation of intra-Afghan dialogue. After that, there will be a foreign force withdrawal agreement but there is no commitment of complete withdrawal. I am quite concerned about all these developments.
It seems there will be a perception of a deal to help President Trump in his re-election while there is no actual peace deal in place. In other words, perception and reality will be two different things. I have been sending foreign policy advice to the government and also share it with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as opposition political parties.
The current government’s foreign policy, so far, has been a total failure and there are many indications that we compromised on our sovereignty. There was no promised arbitration from America on Kashmir rather they provided diplomatic support to India; Saudi Arabia refused to support Pakistan’s Kashmir position as a country as well as at OIC, CPEC was placed on the back burner at the annoyance of China, and America successfully pressured Pakistan to bring Afghan Taliban to the negotiations table without conceding space that serves strategic interests of Pakistan.
I will not support any Afghan peace deal that does not guarantee the gradual but complete withdrawal of foreign forces from the region. The presence of these forces creates an imbalance in power that has resulted in a never-ending conflict as well as resulted in a great game competition between world powers.
I was also against unilateral ceasefire commitment from the Afghan Taliban while there is no accompanying announcement of the end of the war from the United States. The war has two parties not one and it is unnatural to expect that one party is still active in war while the other is pressured to announce a ceasefire. It seems Pakistan played its role in convincing the Afghan Taliban to agree to a unilateral ceasefire although it is ambiguously called the reduction in violence. The media announcement from the Afghan Taliban suggests that they conceded to that demand under pressure and are not fully committed to it.
I was against engaging the Ashraf Ghani government in the dialogue because they do not enjoy the mandate of the people and are imposed by the occupying powers. This fact was confirmed when only 20% of voters turned out to vote in the last presidential elections held in October 2019. Apart from low turnout, there were so many irregularities in it that everyone has raised questions about its legitimacy. The elections commission of Afghanistan has not formally announced the result which means that Ashraf Ghani does not have the mandate of the people. I have supported an intra-Afghan dialogue in which all prominent personalities should take part including Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, Amrullah Saleh, Hamid Karzai, Gul Badin Hekmatyar, and many others.
It is quite clear that America does not intend to leave Afghanistan and is only seeking to reduce its presence. They also want to change the nature of their forces that is more focused on preserving their regional interests including keeping an eye on Iran, China, and Pakistan. NATO has announced that it will coordinate its plans with America.
Pakistan will continue facing the pressure on its economy, society, and politics as long as there are foreign forces in a neighboring country. The current government does not have the capability or the will to handle this pressure. A new republic must be developed to ensure the independence and sovereignty of the nation. I will continue engaging with other political parties to convince them that the only viable path to the future is that all of us come together on a dialogue table to start working on it.