Beyond the news: How, with Afghan peace plan at abyss edge, war looms for India

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by Kshatriya87, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Kshatriya87

    Kshatriya87 Senior Member Senior Member

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    http://indianexpress.com/article/ex...peace-plan-at-abyss-edge-war-looms-for-india/

    Inside Afghanistan, many see Dand-i-Ghori as an abyss that the peace talks could fall into — and should that happen, India too could pay a heavy price. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/ex...dge-war-looms-for-india/#sthash.eTIfvWWN.dpuf

    Last autumn, as the largest Taliban military campaign since 1996 swept across Afghanistan, the white-and-black flag of the Islamic Emirate began to fly over the bazaar in the small of town of Postak. Baghlan province, where the town is located, was once home to rich coal mines and rolling sugarbeet fields — as well as a giant military base that guarded the routes into the heart of the country’s anti-Taliban stronghold, Mazar-e-Sharif.

    The town hadn’t fallen, though: Baghlan’s Dand-i-Ghori district had been handed over to ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders in a deal brokered by the country’s Borders and Tribal Affairs Minister, Gulab Mengal, with President Ashraf Ghani’s approval.


    Like so many of President Ghani’s peace moves, things didn’t quite work to plan: the new Taliban leaders ordered girls out of school, stopped the teaching of some subjects, and imposed shari’a laws. Taliban anthems were played over public address systems. And Dand-i-Ghori became the base for the build-up that helped the Taliban overrun the city of Kunduz last year.

    “The accord increased the morale of the enemy, certifying their right to the district,” Baghlan provincial council member Muhammad Hanif recently said. “It was a poisoned deal.”

    Today [Monday], Kabul had hoped to begin to engage the Taliban in another round of Pakistan-brokered talks inside days. But the Taliban leadership has said it would not be participating, even though hopes are high Pakistan would be able to draw in powerful factions. Kabul, diplomatic sources say, is considering proposals to call off military operations against the Islamist insurgency in districts it now dominates, creating what will be called “safe zones”.

    Inside Afghanistan, many see Dand-i-Ghori as an abyss that the peace talks could fall into — and should that happen, India too could pay a heavy price.

    For one, these safe zones could potentially become bases to train and finance anti-India jihadists. Even more important, a deal would almost certainly involve a diminished strategic relationship between India and Afghanistan — which, in turn, would mean India has one fewer lever with which to pressure Pakistan for action against terrorism.

    Last week, five suicide attackers targeted the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, the second strike this year on New Delhi’s diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s intelligence services believe this attack, like the others before it, were likely carried out by Pakistan-based jihadists. They were aimed at evicting Indian influence from Afghanistan’s life — part of the fee Pakistan is demanding for bringing the Taliban to the table.

    Afghan leaders insist they are not planning to cede territory to the Taliban — but the facts on the ground aren’t comforting. In February, Afghan forces abandoned their bases in Helmand province’s northern districts, Musa Qala and Nawzad. The forces, the Afghan military says, were needed to reinforce bases at the provincial capital, Lashkargah, and at Gereshk, a small town that sits on the highway linking Kabul to the country’s south.

    In practice, this means conceding two more of Helmand’s 15 districts — eleven of which are already held or contested by the Taliban — to the insurgent leadership. Helmand is one of Afghanistan’s most productive sources of opium, and ceding control of its administration would give the Taliban a secure revenue source.

    Karmi Atal, the head of Helmand’s provincial council, is among many local residents who suspect a sellout looms.

    “We want to clearly tell [Taliban chief] Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, his rival Mullah Ghulam Rasool, the Afghan defence and interior ministers, and even the Afghan president that they do not own our land,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “Our land belongs to all Afghans so only they have the right to decide its future.”

    These voices may have moral right on their side — but events are being driven by the cold calculations that the United States, China and Pakistan are making. Following a meeting on February 23, representatives of the three countries along with Afghanistan — which together constitute what is called the Quadrilateral Coordination Group — invited “all Taliban and other [armed] groups to participate through their authorised representatives in the first round of direct peace talks with the Afghan government”.

    Islamabad is expected to host the first round of the dialogue — following on from earlier meetings involving the QCG and the Taliban in Pakistan’s Murree resort-town last summer — in the first days of March.

    The dialogue process is driven by the great powers’ belief that Afghanistan’s 170,000-odd military just doesn’t have the numbers, equipment or morale to hold the ground. Faced with assault, records a classified report prepared for President Ghani, which was accessed by The Indian Express, the two battalions 209 Corps tasked with defending the lines of access to Kunduz simply “abandoned their base”. The troops, the investigation found, failed even to “preserve and maintain their equipment”.

    In many regions, police and militia — tasked with holding ground while the military stages conventional anti-insurgency operations — haven’t been paid for months.

    Last year, a staggering 11,002 civilians were injured or killed, up 4% from last year — so Afghans will likely be willing to pay almost any price for a reduction in violence.

    For the talks to succeed in reducing violence, though, two assumptions have to be realised. First, Pakistan will need to corral Mullah Akhtar Mansur’s Taliban faction to the table, possibly along with second-rung groups like the Hizb-e-Islami. This, the argument goes, will put pressure on other factions, too.

    Second, Islamabad will have to rein in so-called “irreconcilable” groups, or hardline jihadists, by using the coercive tools of its intelligence services.

    In order to persuade Pakistan to do this, the Quadrilateral Group has two carrots in hand. President Ghani is known to be willing to bargain away his country’s increasingly close strategic relationship with India — which, in recent months, has seen the first supplies of Indian military aid to any foreign country. The safe zones proposal, in turn, will give Pakistan something with which to tempt its long-standing Taliban allies to the table.

    It seems improbable though, that many Quadrilateral Group diplomats would stake their retirement funds on this outcome. The rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, as well as the splintering of the Taliban, so far seems to be leading to greater violence, with the rebels stepping up their campaign to seize the Taliban’s lead role in the insurgency.

    The Taliban leadership knows, moreover, that joining in negotiations could lead its field commanders — warlords flush with opium revenues, and with little to gain from a peace deal — to abandon their ageing, Pakistan-backed leadership.

    For its part, Islamabad cannot take the risk of mounting too much pressure on the Taliban, for fear of provoking its cadre to help jihadists operating against the Pakistani state.

    Like so many past Afghan roadmaps for peace, chances are this one too could end up leading back to the battlefield — and to bloodshed that will continue until one side finally prevails. India, which has enormous stakes in Afghanistan’s future, will have to be prepared for the long war ahead.
     
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  3. abingdonboy

    abingdonboy Senior Member Senior Member

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    What's new? This was always projected to happen once ISAF departed. The West failed to do anything about the real terror machinery in Pakistan and thus they are just itching to get back into the "game".
     
  4. Kshatriya87

    Kshatriya87 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Just like last time. They will get back in the game and the game will turn around to hit them back.
     
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  5. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    Pakistan May Have Jeopardized the Latest Afghan Peace Talks

    The Afghan peace process, which is being facilitated by various regional states, has once again hit a roadblock with the Afghan Taliban refusing to hold direct peace talks with the Afghan government. A statement issued by the Afghan Taliban recently stressed several long-standing preconditions for dialogue, including the departure of all foreign troops from Afghanistan. “We want to repeat our stance once again that until the occupation of foreign troops ends, until Taliban names are removed from international blacklists, and until our detainees are released, talks will yield no results,” the group said.

    Direct talks were expected to begin in Pakistan next week between the Taliban and Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States (the so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group). Last year’s attempt at talks dissolved after just one round, after Afghan intelligence announced that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for two years.

    In a way, Pakistan may have jeopardized the latest round of talks. The Afghan Taliban’s announcement came only a few days after Pakistani Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, in a rare admission, said that Pakistan still had significant influence over the Afghan Taliban because the group’s leadership is based in Pakistan. Previously, Pakistan has always denied any such claims.

    Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, he said, “I think people who have dealt with this issue recognize that Taliban in the best of times … did not listen to Pakistan always … and now we have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan and they get some medical facilities, their families are here. So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say ‘come to the table.’”

    This statement by the county’s foreign affairs advisor has raised many questions. On Pakistan’s part, the motives of this admission are unclear. If it was meant to bolster Pakistan’s general position over the issue, it has clearly failed. And if it was meant to sabotage the peace process, it has succeeded in doing so.

    Moreover, by openly admitting that the Afghan Taliban’s families live in the country, Pakistan has only officially acknowledged what has already been known: that the group enjoys state-level support in Pakistan. Moreover, it has further confirmed that Pakistan has been following a ‘good’ Taliban (non-state actors which do not target Pakistan’s interests) and ‘bad’ Taliban (non-state actors which target Pakistan interests in any way) policy.


    Strategically, the Afghan Taliban is under no pressure to join any peace process. Since the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan a year ago, the Taliban have had many victories on the military front: insurgent activities increased considerably in the last year, with at least 10,000 security and terrorist incidents recorded in 2015 alone.


    This latest refusal by the Taliban to join any dialogue has weakened Pakistan’s position. From here on, Pakistan’s credibility will further decline as it has not yet been able to deliver on the issue, despite making promises to do so at various forums.

    Aziz’s statement has led to more discontent in Kabul over the progress in the talks and particularly in Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the table. Many claim that Pakistan has not been exerting real pressure on the Taliban, except advising them to join the peace talks. Ahmad Rashid, a journalist and an expert on Afghanistan, recently said that “if the Afghan civil war worsens, Pakistan’s allies, China and the United States, will lose faith in Islamabad’s intentions.”

    The Taliban have even promised to launch more attacks because of the growing number of foreign troops in the country. In the coming days and weeks, the security situation of Afghanistan is likely to deteriorate further, which will only put more pressure on Pakistan.

    Make no mistake: the stability of the region depends on the outcome of this peace process and Pakistan needs to take a clear position on it.

    http://thediplomat.com/2016/03/pakistan-may-have-jeopardized-the-latest-afghan-peace-talks/
     
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  6. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    Enforce Taliban, Al-Qaeda sanctions to combat resurgent threats to Afghanistan: India at the UN
    Mar 16, 2016 09:46 IST


    United Nations: India has called for strictly enforcing the Security Council sanctions on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to combat the resurgent terrorist threat to Afghanistan.

    India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Council Tuesday that the effective implementation of the sanctions "will go a long way in imposing restrictions on the listed entities/individuals' movements, assets and arms embargo."

    He was a speaking at a Council debate on UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), which had its mandate renewed. The meeting heard a dire warning from Nicholas Haysom, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Afghanistan that in "2016, survival will be an achievement for the National Unity Government" as the nation "is being severely tested."

    Cautioning against the Taliban expanding territorial reach, Akbaruddin said, "We urge the Security Council to look into the security situation and the means to contain it with a sense of urgency."

    "The distress signals are unremitting-a worsening security situation; an increase in the tempo of insurgent activities; a greater toll of civilian casualities; and a deteriorating humanitarian situation," Akbaruddin said. "All point to the need for greater engagement by the international community."

    For India's part, he said it "is working to support the Afghan government and people." New Delhi was ready to expand training programs for Afghan military and security forces at its institutions, he said.

    [​IMG]
    Representational image. Reuters

    On the economic front, Akbaruddin said Kabul would be able achieve its full potential if it is allowed the freedom of transit to major South Asian markets. "We are working with Afghanistan and Iran to develop trilateral transit and participation in the development of the Chabahar Port which will augment our connectivity with Afghanistan," he said. While cooperating with Iran in developing the port, New Delhi is building roads in Afghanistan to link to it.

    He referred to the National Assembly Building built with Indian aid that was dedicated in December by Prime Minister Narendra Modi President Ashraf Ghani. "The Parliament complex is a symbol of the resolve of Afghanistan to shape its future through votes and debates and the belief that terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan's future or dictate the choices the people of Afghanistan make," he said.

    During the debate Afghanistan and Pakistan traded charges over cross-border terrorism. Afghanistan's Permanent Representative Mahmoud Saikal demanded an immediate end to incursions from across the Durand Line that marks their border.

    There have been at least 56 instances of violation of Afghanistan's territory from across the border, he said adding, "This jeopardises Afghanistan-Pakistan relations at a time when making peace with Pakistan is essential to making peace with the Taliban."


    Pakistani Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi responded that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists were coming in from Afghanistan. Asserting that "we have a long border which is not easy to control," she said that "there has been opposition to Pakistan's creation of border barriers."

    Saikal sounded a warning about the threat from the Islamic State or Daesh, Al-Qaeda, and other violent extremist and terrorist groups, in addition to the Taliban. "Everything we cherish — equality, democracy, justice and human rights — is under attack from their daily onslaught of violence," he said.

    He called on Islamabad to help facilitate the direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government citing Pakistan prime minister's foreign policy advisor's assertion that his government had "influence on the Taliban."

    Lodhi claimed that "Pakistan condemns all terrorism" and said that there should be no "unrealistic" deadlines or preconditions for the talks between the Taliban and the government.

    India along with most countries expressed support for talks. But Akbaruddin said participants in "the Afghan government-led reconciliation process" must respect the redlines" against violence and should accept the Constitution of Afghanistan."

    Speaking to reporters after the Council session, Haysom said that so far Pakistan was cooperating with the Afghan peace process. Initial indications were that they were doing "some heavy lifting" to facilitate the talks, he said and added that Islamabad realises that it will be accountable.

    http://www.firstpost.com/world/enfo...un-2677698.html?utm_source=FP_CAT_LATEST_NEWS
     
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