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Afghanistan’s Future Amid Peace Talks And Deadliest Attacks

‘Afghanistan becomes world’s deadliest country for terrorism’ – flashed the news headline in 2018.  The current tide of terror incidents depicts somewhat similar scenario. In fact, with violence getting worse, it will not be erroneous to say that the month of October proved to be the bloodiest nightmare for Afghans.

War in Afghanistan commenced under the United States “War on Terror” in 2001 after 9/11 attacks. The purpose behind Afghan invasion was the removal of Al Qaeda terrorists deemed responsible for the attacks on World Trade Centre and Pentagon. Interestingly, the same terrorist organization was set by the help of USA along with its regional supporters to remove the Soviet troops and stop the spread of communist Ideology in the region through Afghanistan during the cold war. After its success in 1989, United States left Afghanistan in the middle of the civil war and became the only super power leading the new world order. The very people who were trained to fight Soviet troops, Talibans declared war against US and now training militants to kick NATO forces out of the Afghan territory.

After 20 years of brutality, destruction, bombings and mass killings, USA, initially reluctant to talk with Taliban, now seeks a political negotiable solution of Afghan war and wants to sign a peace deal with Taliban, which according to them will end the violence and conclude the US involvement in Afghanistan. The peace process and negotiation intensified in 2018 along with the help of regional powers including Pakistan, who are playing the role of facilitators in the peace talks. Negotiations have been taking place in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the Taliban office is based.

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In February 2020, after several meetings, US signed a conditional peace agreement with Taliban and agreed for the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in 14 months if Taliban uphold the terms of agreement. The same deal was rejected by Afghan government because it was not a party to the agreement. Both US and Taliban are determined for the peace but Afghan government is reluctant. Why?

According to analysts, Afghan government is disinclined because they are concerned about their future. Once US troops evacuate the country, what would happen after? Who will rule Afghanistan, Civilians or Taliban? US also left Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal but what followed? the bloody civil war in the country while on the flip side, US was enjoying the status of “the only super power” in the world. Millions of Afghans left their own country and became refugees due to the violence in their native land.

Therefore, Afghan government’s apprehension is justified. Despite the peace talks and agreements, insurgent attacks in Afghanistan spiked and showed an increase of 70% as compared to the previous year. Thousands of people ferociously killed. Taliban conducted more than 5,000 attacks during the peace talks in the same year. More than 20 attacks were launched by ISIS and Taliban in the month of October alone, in which hundreds of lives were lost.These attacks include suicide bombings and the most recent attack on Kabul University, in which terrorists stormed the educational institute in the heart of the capital and killed more than 20 people, mostly students, right on the spot.

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The peace talks, US attitude, and Taliban demands for the release of their prisoners are not going well with the Afghan government. Insurgent groups are still very powerful. They are controlling more than half of the country’s territory. The surge in attacks despite the peace process showed that nothing or very less will change even after the withdrawal of US troops and power will remain in the hands of the Taliban.

Spokespersons of Afghan government said that the ceasefire is their top priority because innocent people are pleading for an end to the everyday violence. But they want a permanent solution not a temporary one. Furthermore, peace talks are also facing delay due to the US elections and COVID-19 crisis. Who will be the next US president and what will be their stance on this burning issue? Only the time will tell.

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Naya Daur