The Taliban insurgents have recently intensified their offensive especially in southern provinces of the country, the former Taliban’s hotbed, in an attempt to take control of more land, triggering fiercest fighting in years between the government forces and the Taliban.
The Taliban were about to seize the control of strategically important Sangin district and the neighboring Khansheen district in Helmand. However, the Taliban fighters were pushed back by the government forces after the arrival of reinforcement troops.
In the wake of the deteriorating security situation in the country, the international community has worked hard to bring the two sides to a negotiation table.
Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have announced that the first round of the quadrilateral meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States will take place in January to work out a clear and comprehensive road map to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation.
All eyes are now on the four-nation meeting that is seen significant in exploring ways for the revival of the dialogue process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Spokesman of the Afghan foreign ministry Khairullah Azad said Tuesday that the proposed peace talks would be held with those militants “who are interested in peace in Afghanistan”.
“In my opinion, all Afghans welcome holding of the meeting which will draw a roadmap for peace talks. I am optimistic that the recent efforts by the Afghan government and Pakistani officials, step by step, would bring fruitful results,” local analyst Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen told Tolo News, a local publication, on Thursday.
Local analysts are in the view that it is usual for warring sides anywhere to show their power and gain ground before they can sit in a negotiation table.
“In my opinion, The Taliban are ready for peace talks. They have known that war is not the solution for the crisis. They have known that the people of Afghanistan will blame them if the war and bloodshed continue,” Mutmaeen said.
The first round of the face-to-face talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government was held in Pakistan in July last year but the process was halted by Taliban new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor following the confirmation of death of former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
On Sunday, Pakistan chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif visited Kabul and met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. They exchanged views on variety of issues including countering terrorism and resuming Afghan peace process.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said recently that Islamabad will continue to support the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
“As a neighbor, Pakistan can play a key role in reviving the peace talks and making it result-oriented,” a university professor and political analyst Sayed Jaffar Rastin told Xinhua on Wednesday.
The analyst is of the view that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would benefit the whole region in enhancing trade and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and the neighboring countries.
In this regard, Rastin said that joining Afghanistan, Pakistan and India with Turkmenistan in the groundbreaking ceremony of TAPI gas pipeline, which links the energy-thirst Pakistan and India through Afghanistan, is significant for cooperation to stabilize peace in Afghanistan.
“The participation of China and the United States in the talks will boost the peace process,” professor Rastin said, adding that the involvement of China and the United States in the Afghan peace process has raised the hope to make the peace talks succeed.
Generally, the perception among Afghans is that during any initial negotiations between the government and the Taliban, the two side must work on a ceasefire and the Taliban should halt violence and sever its ties with all foreign extremist militants who are fighting the government alongside the Taliban.
“Afghan security forces are poorly equipped. We do not have effective air force and our military equipment is too poor to defend security threats in remote areas,” Rastin said.
If the security forces are strong on the ground, the government would have a powerful stance in the peace and negotiations table, he added. Enditem