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Afghanistan-stepping towards peaceful elections

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Ali Sukhanver

No tale of pains and joys of Afghanistan could be completed without referring to the name of the US diplomat Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad who is at present Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the US State Department. He had been the highest-ranking Muslim American in the George W. Bush administration. His diplomatic services with reference to the countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have been so marvellous that he remained ‘the blue-eyed boy’ of every US government. Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad is an Afghan by birth that is why now the Trump administration has given him a fresh assignment of looking into the Afghan affairs on behalf of the US State Department. This assignment is in fact a mission of securing a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan. It is being hoped that Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad would succeed in finding out a viable solution to the Afghan issue. In continuation to his new assignment he is visiting the region now-a-days and his sole purpose is to speed up the peace efforts in Afghanistan. According to different media reports, Zalmay Khalilzad has expressed his desire of having a peace agreement with the Taliban before the upcoming Afghan presidential elections which are expected on 20th April 219. There are rumours that these elections could be delayed for some time because President Ghani does not find the law and order situation of the country suitable for the elections.

Experts on Afghanistan Political affairs are of the opinion that President Ashraf Ghani is apprehending Taliban’s influence and interference in the election process. In spite of President Ghani’s all possible efforts and in spite of all US’ struggle, the influence of the Taliban could not be minimized in the Afghan social and political set-up. The Taliban were there, they are there and they would be there in near and far future. According to a report prepared by BBC , the Taliban are now in full control of 14 districts (that’s 4% of the country) and have an active and open physical presence in a further 263 (66%), significantly higher than previous estimates of Taliban strength. ‘In Afghanistan, about 15 million people – half the population – are living in areas that are controlled by the Taliban. Taliban fighters, whom US-led forces spent billions of dollars trying to defeat, are now openly active in 70% of Afghanistan,’ says another report. In short the Taliban are a reality which could not be and must not be ignored. Any effort of throwing them out of the Afghan scenario would simply effect the law and order situation badly. It is just his day-dreaming if President Ashraf Ghani thinks that by postponing the elections, he would get time for wiping-off the Taliban influence from the Afghan society.

            As far as the role of Taliban in the social and political scenario of Afghanistan is concerned the people of Afghanistan rank them as the ‘sons of the soil’. No doubt they are a group of people with a particular philosophy of their own but they do belong to the Afghan lands. In spite of the fact that the western media has ever been defaming them as a group of ‘miscreants’ and a ‘gang’ of foreign supported ‘terrorists’ but the people of Afghanistan have a different view about them. If they were really the terrorists and criminals they could not have achieved unprecedented success in the battlefield as well as in the recent diplomatic ventures in Russia and central Asia. The fact of the matter is that the Taliban have never accepted the interference of the foreign forces in Afghanistan. Since day one they have been fighting against the foreign invaders and intriguers. The only target they have set before them is to kick out the foreign forces from Afghanistan by creating all possible hindrances and hurdles in the way of the foreign invaders. If Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad is really serious and sincere in settling the matters in Afghanistan he must keep in mind that no such effort could ever be successful without involving the Taliban. It is another reality that the Taliban could never be pressurized by use of force; the only way to deal with them is to convince them to join peace-talks. But at the same time it must also be kept in mind that the Taliban do not have a very pleasant and positive experience regarding the peace-talks, arranged in the past. They are always deceived and betrayed. Let us hope this time history does not repeat itself. No peace effort could be successful unless it is supported by sincerity and honesty.

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