- Peace does not seem to coming to Afghanistan
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has found that his failure to convince the Afghan government to release Taliban prisoners ahead of a withdrawal of US troops has jeopardized the USA’s peace agreement with the Taliban. In a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, he failed to persuade him to carry out the prisoner release, or to patch matters up with Abdullah Abdullah. Four years ago, Mr Abdullah had been persuaded to accept the position of Chief Executive and to let Mr Ghani assume the Presidency after a disputed election. President Ghani’s re-election resulted in a replay, with Mr Abdullah once again the main candidate, once again defeated, and once again refusing to accept the results. Indeed, he went to the extent of having an inauguration ceremony for himself at the very moment President Ghani was being re-inaugurated for a second term. Mr Pompeo thus needed to combine the two governments into one, not for the release of prisoners, but so the Taliban may have a credible interlocutor for the next stage of the peace deal, supposed to be the intra-Afghan talks which are supposed to produce a lasting peace.
There are now unmistakable signs of the US-Taliban agreement coming unstuck. Wednesday’s attack on a Kabul gurdwara for which ISIL has claimed responsibility indicates that the ability of the Taliban to deliver peace on behalf of the armed opposition might not be as complete as the USA might have thought. If the Taliban fail to deliver on peace, then not just the Afghan government, but the USA will begin to wonder whether they are Wasting their time or not.
This might afford satisfaction to Taliban opponents, but it does not bring peace to Afghanistan. Pakistan has been one of the regional powers most desirous of peace in Afghanistan, but its only role so far was to persuade the Taliban to an agreement, apart from providing a home to the refugees created by the various conflicts that have bedeviled the country for the last four decades. It should be careful to ensure that it plays a positive role in the establishment of peace.