Ambiguities in US-Taliban deal may disrupt peace process, warn experts

By: News Desk      Published: 09:47 PM, 5 Mar, 2020
Ambiguities in US-Taliban deal may disrupt peace process, warn experts
Brig (r) Said Nazir, EP-IPS Khalid Rahman and former ambassador Syed Abrar Hussain address a roundtable session of US-Taliban peace deal.

The recently concluded agreement between the US and Taliban contains various ambiguities that could lead to the disruption of the Afghan peace process and make the situation in the volatile region uncertain again, highlighted experts at a roundtable held in Islamabad on Thursday.

The apprehensions were expressed at a session titled ‘US-Taliban Deal: Prospects of Peace in Afghanistan and Way Forward for Pakistan’, which was held at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad.

The deliberation was chaired by Executive President IPS Khalid Rahman whereas the speakers included Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Abrar Hussain, Brig (r) Said Nazir, security analyst, Justice Dr Mohammad Al-Ghazali, Jumma Khan Sufi, renowned author and scholar, Abdul Hadi Mulla Khal and Tahir Khan, senior journalists and experts on Afghan affairs, and Dr Sadia Suleman, faculty member of Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

All the speakers were unanimous that there were enough ambiguities and uncertainties in the agreement which any of the involved stakeholders could exploit to further their own interests. The speakers pointed out the discrepancies over exchange of prisoners, lack of a guarantor in signing the deal, absence of clarity regarding the structure of future Afghan government, ambiguity over power-sharing mechanisms within Afghan stakeholders, absence of ownership and economic commitment on part of the US, and lack of involvement of local leaderships and ethnic and other groups as some of the weak areas that could hinder the progress in this regard.

Agreement on various issues among the local tribes within Afghanistan was another uncertainty pointed out by the experts, stating that it will be a big challenge for the Taliban to bring all the local stakeholders on the same page given the complexity of the region. Taliban, according to the speakers, had expertise in fighting wars but bringing all the stakeholders within the country to an agreement will be a real test of their leadership and political acumen.

The speakers were appreciative of Pakistan’s role in getting the deal done, but advised the country against being very vocal in taking credit as that will only attract pressure in case the agreement fails to hold. Considering the changing realities of the region and the unpredictable nature of both the Taliban and the US, the speakers urged Pakistan to stay vigilant and be wary of any adverse consequences should things fail to settle as per expectations.

The development was however seen as a positive sign for Pakistan, as it will not only help in improving the security paradigm of the region, but will also enable Pakistan to focus on its Eastern border, and in providing better moral support to the Kashmiris in their struggle against Indian occupation. Improved connectivity and trade prospects, continuation of suspended projects such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline, de-weaponisation in the region, and better control of drugs were pointed out as some other areas that could be to the country’s advantage after stability in Afghanistan.

The speakers saw the evolving regional situation as an opportunity for Pakistan to benefit from, advising the government to make a comprehensive plan for all possible outcomes of the peace deal, aimed at reconstruction of its relations with Afghanistan and improved management of its borders.