Whether we like it or not, peace with Pakistan is possible. But peace with The Taliban is not. There are many reasons why, I will examine a few. This will be under the assumption that Nation States are still the most powerful and influential actors in the world. The world has not entered the era of which Nation States have conceded to non-state actors, it is actually the opposite. Nation states are the driving force of many non-state actors to subordinate other nation states. However there are means of mitigating non-state actors by stringent diplomacy and with that a strong will for political comprehension is needed.
Peace is not possible with Taliban because nor are they a state nor or are they created to become a part of any state. They are a rogue insurgent group that leverage off of grievances by certain groups. They look for groups of people that are not happy with the ruling government and offer a venue to express those grievances for loyalty. This usually happens with members of society that share some interests as them but not all. Gradually these members become a part of the Taliban because there is no room for divergence policies in The Taliban, none at all. The Taliban can never become a part of the state because their fundamental principles are antithesis to all states but its self. Therefore discussing peace with them would be a waste of time and resources.
Instead individuals who are not content with the current government must voice their concerns politically and democratically. The state and the institutions must be respected and must be prioritized, because no one is more important than the state and its institutions. The government on the other hand must also ensure there is compliance with its people and dissent must be tolerated and addressed peacefully. A common respect for all members of society is key and to ensure no one is being left out.
Pakistan on the other hand is a nation state and peace is possible. They are a nation that relies heavily on their military for peace and order that in its self portrays a nation that yearns for stability. Nation states desire economic development more than anything else because without development the state will collapse. Pakistan has been a victim of miscalculation on developing its economy, it has not put in place a sustainable policy directive to compete through trade. It has actually made them become a subordinate state in the region, and hostile epicenter of global jihadists.
But for peace to be possible with Pakistan, the Afghan government must address Pakistan’s regional concerns which are reasonable. Afghan government can do this promptly by
- Full recognition of the Durand line, with a physical border in place with points of entry
- Treating India and Pakistan as equals
- A massive long term trade agreement with Pakistan
Implementing these three policy measures will ensure a relationship based on economic interests and shared common goal to develop in an accelerated pace. It will also estrange Pakistan’s paranoia that Afghanistan is a threat to its stability.
Of course for this to happen Afghan political elites must enter a consensus and dissent within the elites must be sorted out first. Members of the society must compromise their tribal/ethnic interests for the good of the nation. This delicate area of tribal/ethnic interests has destroyed Afghanistan many times before as they have been the vulnerable wound that all major powers have exposed. The political elites must transcend from just attracting their own members to attracting other areas of the community. To therefore create a consensus to make peace with Pakistan and disregard The Taliban.
I believe this is the only way for sustainable peace in Afghanistan. It is one thing to have peace but another thing to have sustainable peace. The Taliban receive aid not only from Pakistan but others as well, their loyalty is only to fundamentalism, of which devalues reason, humanity and integrity. Therefore peace with the Taliban can only be temporary because as I have mentioned they were not created to become a part of another state, they were created to seek and destroy anything and anyone that dissents.
By MASSUD EBADY, -KP
THE PASHTUN TIMES