Sacrifices of the Afghan Forces would not be Forgotten in the Peace Talks with Taliban: President Ghani

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AFGHANISTAN: In a statement, on Saturday December 19, 2015, after the inauguration of new building for Ministry of Interior, President Ashraf Ghani stated that the sacrifices and achievements of the Afghan National Security Forces would not be forgotten in the peace talks with Taliban. He also assured security forces that their presence, professionalism and independence will be taken into account during peace negotiations. Stressing the need for stability in the country, he said peace is a priority for all Afghans and that the war has been imposed on the country. He said government is trying to leave no stone unturned in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Ghani thanked all security force members for their sacrifices which have helped secure the country, and particularly thanked the families of women police officers for having allowed them to join the ranks.

Though he has emphasized on the peace process, he has recently made it clear that the process would not be carried out at the altar of Afghan constitution and the sacrifices of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The important factor to consider is what would be position of Afghan government when it starts negotiations with Taliban at a time when Taliban seem to have gained much strength.

In recent months Afghanistan has seen deterioration in the security situation to a large extent. Taliban have been able to establish their dominance in few of Afghan provinces; and in certain northern districts, for the first time, they have been able to show their astonishing strength. The fall of Kunduz to Taliban was another major example showing how they have reorganized and prepared themselves to carry out complex attacks. The attack also raised concerns about the capability of Afghan government and security forces to ensure security of the people.

As the concerns were mounting regarding the future of peace and tranquility in the country, Barrack Obama announced that US would delay the drawdown of its troops. He announced that the current posture of troops – 9,800 – would stay in the country through the end of 2016. He also announced that a total of 5,500 soldiers would stay in Afghanistan after 2016, when he leaves office.

It seems that US is really concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and it shows that it is interested in monitoring the situation closely. However, the important thing is to pursue a peace process that may guarantee a lasting peace in the country. US has been supporting such a peace process but that has not been successful yet.

Since the peace talks hosted by Pakistan in Murree, there has not been any sort of development. In the recent Heart of Asia Conference Pakistani government again announced its support for peace talks with Taliban, and President Ashraf Ghani also agreed to restart the peace process, but there are doubts among the Afghan officials regarding Pakistan’s intentions. The cooperation between both the governments regarding the process has never been long lasting. There have been many episodes in the drama of the peace process but it has never been concluded.

It is important that US along with the regional powers must monitor the peace talks and ensure that they do it for the better future of the people of Afghanistan, not for their own political and strategic interests. With the support and involvement of US and the countries like Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and India, a lasting peace can be developed in Afghanistan.

For Afghanistan to enter the peace talks from a position of strength, it is necessary that ANSF must be further strengthened. It is a good sign that US forces will remain in the country for a couple of more years, but important point is to make use of this presence to a maximum extent. NATO has also welcomed Obama’s decision and it will also keep its forces in the country for some more years. However, there should be practical efforts to ensure that this presence benefit ANSF as much as possible.

Following President Obama’s decision regarding its troops, Germany also gave willingness to keep its troops in Afghanistan. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly welcomed President Obama’s plans to prolong the troops’ engagement in Afghanistan.

The role and support of international community in Afghanistan are of immense importance. As the security challenges are rising with the attacks of Taliban and rise of Islamic State (IS) militants, the security measures and apparatus in the country will be highly tested; and they can only be successful when the unconditional support continues for them. The only condition that can be set is the restoration of peace and tranquility; before that, drawdown of the troops may mean isolation of Afghanistan in the quagmire of instability and terrorism.

At the same time, it is important that Afghan government must enter the peace process from such a point that there are no compromises made regarding Afghan constitution. The contributions by the Afghan people in general and security forces in particular must not be lost in any way and there should be determined efforts to safeguard them during the talks with Taliban. Compromises in those areas would mean a defeat for Afghan government. -DOA

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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