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Afghanistan: The Great Expectations

Sagid KhanIf someone has read the novel named “The Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, then he/she might remember the main characters around which the whole plot of novel revolves. The three characters are; Miss Havisham, Estella, and Pip. Miss Havisham, dejected lady due to her love affair, is the guardian of her adopted daughter Estella. Estella is a pretty lady since her childhood and everyone make expectations with her once they see her. Pip is a boy with luck and expectations. Once he sees Estella then he lost both his luck and expectation. His only expectation was to get Estella at any cost.

Afghan Taliban are like Estella who always hope for Afghan masses and those who wanted to work for peace wholeheartedly. India and Pakistan are performing the role of Miss Havisham where they blame each other for all their miseries. India is blaming Pakistan for handling Afghan Taliban in shape of Quetta Shura. On the other hand, Pakistan has made claims that many of the RAW agents have been arrested countrywide.

If we go through the history of Afghanistan, then we will come to know that the Afghans efficiently kept intact their own country at the same time they rule other parts of the world. Their rule in Subcontinent is among the undeniable facts. Since the first Anglo-Afghan war started in 1838-39 till the NATO invasion, headed by US, the Afghan nation kept intact their land and identity but with irreparable losses. According to Afghan history, Afghanistan proved to be the graveyard of empires. Conversely American based Afghan writer Tamim Ansari in his book “Game without Rules”, writes that “Afghanistan proved to be graveyard for its own people in all times and climes instead for someone else”.

Since the Sour Revolution 1979, Afghan Mujahedeen then Taliban and Northern Alliance proved to be Estella for the Afghan people. During 1980s, Afghan people were counting on the aforementioned during Russian invasion as messiah but their hopes dashed after the fall of common enemy. The mujahedeen got divided in different factions and started civil war. This gave rise to the Afghan Taliban whose first step to the helm of the affairs was hanging of President Dr Najibullah in 1996. They called this as a start of new era.

After the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Taliban and all other foreign terrorists scattered inside Afghanistan and other parts of the world. The victory was celebrated at Bone Conference, 2001 while congregating the responsibilities of new Afghan government to Hamid Karzai. After years, when a rise of new dawn was assured then rejuvenated Taliban started to appear again on the horizon of Afghan land in shape of spring offensives. This time, not only the Afghans but the foreigners were worried about their own securities. Time and again it was expected that they will abide by the hopes of Afghan people and would become the part of mainstream politics. Both the handlers and local people expected from them but this time same up to great extent.

This can be seen when Afghan Taliban agreed to open their political office in Doha, 2013 and finally they gave their address to the world to talk. In Doha process the bone of contention was the objection of Afghan government over the hoisting of former Emarat-e-Islami Afghanistan flag by Taliban. The second process was Murree peace process, 2015 where Taliban resumed their talks for restoring peace to Afghan land. But the talks came to an end after the death news of Afghan Taliban supreme Commander Mullah Omar. This news brought Mullah Ahkter Mansoor to power and divided the Taliban into factions. Some of the deserted Taliban groups and specially Uzbakistan Islamic Movement showed allegiance to ISIS in defiance to Afghan Taliban. Where this division increases the danger of infightings at the same time provide an opportunity for the regional and international actors to bring main stakeholders to talks. In this regard the process of Quadrilateral Coordination Group process, 2016 was initiated. Different sessions inside Afghanistan and Pakistan were held with the hope that peace would embrace this part of the land. But the process faced with jeopardy when Afghan Taliban against the expectations of regional countries along with China and America issued the statement that they aren’t joining the efforts for peace.

 After all this, the return of Gulbadin Hikamatyar to peace process remained to build Castles in the Sky. He is already a deserter and nothing fruitful can be expected from him. Welcome and condemning statements appeared on both sides of Pak-Afghan border. Hamid Mir, famous journalist, tweeted that “good news: Gulbadin Hekmatyar is ready to join the peace process in Afghanistan”. On other hand former head of Afghan spy agency Amrullah Saleh tweeted that, “Hekmatyar is like nuclear waste, hazardous and of no use, Pakistan wants to bury him in Afghanistan, big mistake to bet peace on him”.

Now the handlers haven’t that much control over their horses and said Sartaj Aziz that, ‘we don’t have that much leverage over Afghan Taliban”, while on the other hand, India isn’t ready to accept that she is handling miscreants against Pakistan. The suggestions for the foreign stakeholders is to better focus on their own miseries, security and energy crises, like Miss Havisham rather than to worry about Estella and Pip.

Writer: Sajid Khan 

The writer hails from South Waziristan Agency. He is a research scholar at NDU, Islamabad.

He can be reached at  mahsud38@gmail.com


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