By Iftekhar A. Khan
July 27, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - The peace talks between the United States and the Taliban to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan have gone on for some months.
After eight rounds of talks in Qatar, US Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad leading the negotiating team seems upbeat about ending the longest war the superpower has inflicted upon any country so far. The sticking point is that the superpower wants complete cessation of hostilities by the Taliban before the talks can meaningfully conclude. But the Taliban are not amenable to dictation.
The Taliban justify themselves in rejecting US dictation, as they think the superpower is in no position to dictate them when they control more than half of Afghanistan territory. And they want to negotiate peace from the point of strength. As it is, whenever the peace parleys proceed in Qatar, there’s an attack either on the government forces or on installations in Afghanistan.
In the recently held talks it was decided that government institutions, especially educational institutions, would not be attacked. But soon a blast took place outside the Kabul University. Ten people lost their lives and 33 were wounded. Even Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s seat of power – Kabul – is not safe from terror attacks.
However, it is important to point out that Taliban constitute a small minority among the Pashtuns. The Pashtun tribesmen who are in majority in Afghanistan are fearless fighters. At one stage during the negotiations, when Zalmay Khalilzad warned them of adding more troops in Afghanistan if they didn’t cease hostilities, they considered it an empty warning. For they knew that if by increasing the troops the war in Afghanistan could be won, the superpower wouldn’t have initiated peace talks in the first place.
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