Biden needs to go through all the wrong decisions made by Trump and come out with valuable and healthy steps to maintain democracy in Afghanistan and to respect the blood its soldiers had shed, and end the war, writes Majidullah Rasooli for South Asia Monitor
Three weeks have passed since the negotiating parties - the Taliban and the Afghan government - have arrived in Qatar. During this period, no news-making meetings were held between the two sides, and these talks seem to have stalled. The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has participated in this round of talks with a big message about ceasefires.
After returning to Qatar, members of the Taliban delegation insisted on the release of the remaining prisoners and the lifting of sanctions on their leaders for not starting talks.
Doubts on Taliban’s intentions
The Republic's desire to reduce violence and ceasefire is known, and achieving this goal has helped in building confidence in the outcome of the dialogue. The persistence of violence has caused more disgust and hatred and has cast doubt on the Taliban's intentions for peace and negotiation. This clearly indicates the amount of will to end violence on both sides of the negotiation teams.
No matter how much the Afghan people are persecuted and abused, they will hate the terrorists. It turns out that in this round of talks, the Taliban are not very encouraged by the outcome and are stubbornly looking to waste time until the clear position of the new US administration becomes clear. Recently, we are witnessing increased violence throughout the country, which shows that the Taliban are not committed to Taliban- US Agreement of February 29, 2020.
Pakistan, on Joe Biden's first day in office, said that the new US administration should be committed to the Taliban-US agreement and the peace process. An agreement that is not approved by the Afghan government, even as the political community, civil society and people are worried about losing the achievements and values of the last two decades.
John Bolton, former President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, wrote in his book ‘The Room Where it Happened’ that the former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was the absolute decision maker in the negotiations and the political fate of Afghanistan, and that he sought an agreement with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan with dignity. He also stated that Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump's special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, has not been accountable to any US institution other than the Secretary of State, and that Khalilzad had a clear authority to absorb the Taliban into Afghan society.
Legitimization of the Taliban
There is no doubt that the signing of an agreement between the world's most powerful country and a group (the Taliban) has not only damaged the country's global reputation, but has also made the Taliban known as an active political group. If there is any benefit to the historic US-Taliban agreement, the position of the United States' 20-year strategic partner (the government and people of Afghanistan) has no doubt been undermined.
The continuation of Khalilzad as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan's peace has created a negative and frustrating mentality towards the new US administration and highlights the continued support for anti-democracy efforts and the so-called religious regime that the Taliban want in Afghanistan.
The Taliban prayed for Trump's victory during the US presidential election; it was all the Taliban hoped to keep Khalilzad at the heart of the peace process in order to meet the group's other demands.
With the signing of an agreement between Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar, the senior leader of the Taliban and its chief negotiator at the Doha talks, a large number of dangerous Taliban prisoners were released from the country's prisons.
This gave great advantage to the Taliban and did not help in any way in reducing violence. Now, targeted assassinations of prominent political, media, and civil figures are a new form of violence and which has persisted for months and continues.
Pakistan and the Taliban believed that the continuation of the Trump administration was a golden opportunity for the Taliban to replace the republic and democracy in Afghanistan. "Trump was not interested in the kind of system in Afghanistan and sometimes thought that the Taliban's claim to a religious government (Islamic Emirate) was the will of all people," Bolton wrote in his memoirs. Pakistan is concerned that the Taliban will withdraw from the political arena and will miss the opportunity to change the political system in Afghanistan.
Undo wrong Trump decisions
Biden needs to go through all the wrong decisions made by Trump and come out with valuable and healthy steps to maintain democracy in Afghanistan, respect the blood its soldiers had shed and end the war. The constructive and soft-spoken views of his close friend (former president Barack Obama) can also pull his administration out of the mire created by the Trump, Pompeo and Khalilzad triangle and provide a viable option for ending the long-running war in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the people and the new generation have made many sacrifices for the realization of democracy and human rights. These currents are not going to retreat and perish. The nascent democracy needs to be consolidated and should not be allowed to give way to authoritarian regimes. Therefore, Afghanistan should not be turned into a nest of terrorism again by wrong agreements.
(The writer, a Kabul university lecturer who is also a member of a presidential committee in the Afghan Ministry of Defense. The views are personal)