How to Fix Afghanistan’s Broken Peace Process
This article was originally published by Foreign Policy.
For the past five years, the Afghan government has sought a peace deal with the Taliban without much to show for the effort. But in the 10 months since President Ashraf Ghani has taken office, the long-stagnant peace process has shown new sparks of life. Negotiators have quietly, sometimes secretly, met with the Taliban’s political leadership in neutral locations such as Qatar, Norway, and China. These first efforts were tentative — talks about talks — but most recently, on July 7, members of the Afghan government and Pakistani Taliban reportedly met in Islamabad to talk about how to end fighting in Afghanistan. The meeting was “warm” and “positive,” and the pre-dawn meal the sides shared was pervaded by “a sense of celebration,” a Pakistani official with knowledge of the talks told Reuters. Another round is planned after the holy month of Ramadan.
While the talks have yet to yield anything substantial, they are a signal of the new Afghan national unity government’s renewed dedication to resolving this conflict. (It’s one priority where there has been progress while other core tasks, such as formation of a new cabinet, have floundered.) Now, it looks like Ghani is creeping, however slowly, closer toward the political settlement to end fighting with the Taliban that for so long eluded his successor, former President Hamid Karzai.
But achieving a peace that will end the 13-year war between the U.S.-backed government and the Taliban will only come about if the political solution reached is one that the Afghan people are willing to support — a peace agreement over which they feel ownership. And for Ghani to do that he has to fix the problems that plague the current peace process and the body tasked with its implementation: the High Peace Council.
Check out our infographic to learn more about the complex workings of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program.
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