In name of peace, is Afghanistan returning to 1990s?

Create: 08/10/2015 - 11:33

In 1995, the Taliban emerged in Afghanistan and captured 90 percent of Afghanistan by 2000, imposing the Sharia law. Were they really followers of Islam and practiced it in letter and spirit? They answer is clearly a big no.
The Mujahidin government’s failure triggered a civil war that posed a grave threat to the security of Pakistan and the rest of the world. Pakistan and the US subsequently launched the project called Taliban to put an end to the civil war and curb the influence of Russia and Iran in the country.
Taliban were mainly students of Haqqani Madrassa in Pakistan where they studied and were trained by the Pakistan intelligence service ISI. They were backed against the Northern Alliance by the Pakistan military, especially in the north of the country, where they faced a tough time.
During Taliban’s oppressive rule, there was no development work; girls were barred from going to school and people starved to death in the absence of even elemental services. The Afghans saw the brutality of the Taliban hanging civilians and lashing women publicly. Every Afghan was virtually humiliated.
In the execution of this entire project, the ISI played a crucial role by providing Taliban all forms of support, including the militia’s rise to power. At that time, all policies were framed in Islamabad and implemented in Kabul. With a proxy government in Kabul, Islamabad plundered Afghanistan mineral wealth at a massive scale.
After 9/11, when Taliban-US negotiations on the surrender of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden collapsed, the Americans invaded Afghanistan with the support of Pakistan. Consequently, the Taliban went to Pakistan, where the ISI provided them safe heavens.
Even during the presidency of Hamid Karzai, high-level Afghan officials worked for the ISI and Afghanistan failed to achieve peace. Despite all kinds of efforts by the Afghan government, Pakistan wanted to lead this process. The main element behind the failure of the Qatar peace process was Pakistan, which sought to control the whole effort in its own interest.
At all forums, Pakistan denied interference in the internal matters of Afghanistan. But its former military officials acknowledge their intentions to retain their influence in the landlocked country. On the other hand, Pakistan scholars publically supported the Taliban and approved of their atrocities.
After the killing of Bin laden, the real face of Pakistan was unmasked but still there was no change in its stance until the Pakistani Taliban attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
President Ashraf Ghani seems to be as tilted toward Pakistan as his predecessor was toward India. It has been almost nine months that the national unity government was formed in Afghanistan. Ghani has since met several times the Pakistan Army chief. As a result insecurity has declined in Pakistan but the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse with each passing day.
Almost three Afghan provinces are on the verge of falling to the Taliban. More attacks are taking place in Kabul and elsewhere. President Ghani believes Pakistan’s position has changed and the shift will help in bringing peace to Afghanistan.
In to strengthen bilateral relations and build trust, Afghanistan signed a controversial Memorandum of Understanding with the ISI -- a deal which benefits only Pakistan, whose role remains far from supportive.
In response to efforts by the president, Pakistan arranged peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Islamabad. The first direct talks between Afghan antagonists spurred hopes for peace.
But the question remains: Has Pakistan really changed its position and is honestly facilitating the reconciliation process?
Just two days before the second round of talks, the news of death of Mullah Omar came out. Afghan officials were informed Mullah Omar had died two years ago in a Pakistani hospital -- an event that fuelled a fierce leadership struggle in Taliban and cancellation of peace talks.
Despite differences at the top, Taliban chose Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor as their new leader. In his first audio message on the continuation of war in Afghanistan is an effort to muster the support of fellow fighters.
Does Pakistan really want peace in Afghanistan? Again the answer is in the negatives, as Islamabad continues to pursue its own interest in Afghanistan. It seems poised to realise its objective under a wobbly national unity government. If the so-called peace process is led by Pakistan, key players will once again come to power in Kabul, a spooky scenario where Afghanistan will never be able to shake off the Pakistani yoke.
If Afghan wants to have peace, the process must be led and owned by the Afghans -- an unachievable goal for a weak government like the sitting one. The Afghans need to resolve their internal differences and strengthen their security; otherwise Afghanistan will revisit the situation it witnessed in the 1990s when it was seen as the headquarters of the Pakistan military.