Afghan conundrum

Stakeholders scramble amid uncertainty

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The negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban are turning out to be a failure once again as after months of talks and some 10 rounds in Doha both the parties are still weighing options and putting pressure on one another to secure the maximum out of this deal.

Taliban most of all who are in control of a large tract of land in Afghanistan are pushing the envelope to gain upper hand in the deal by striking at will at the Afghan government and the NATO troops. Last week there was fierce battle between the US forces and the Taliban where both the parties claimed to have inflicted heavy damage on the other. One estimate said that 35 Taliban fighters were killed whereas two US troops lost their lives. Only a week ago, the Taliban carried out the deadliest attack in the recent years where over 60 people were killed. Now again a US trooper was killed in a Taliban attack after which the agreement that was reached but was not signed by the US foreign secretary has hit a snag.

The US president Donald Trump tweeted saying they have stopped the talks with the Taliban. The US president’s tweet revealed that the Taliban top leaders as well as the president of Afghanistan were to meet Mr Trump at camp David. The meeting now has been called off pulling a curtain on the nearly year-long back and forth between the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban.

Many in the US’s diplomatic circles have expressed their surprise at possible rendezvous with Taliban at Camp David, knowing the fact that they have been mounting attacks on the NATO forces.

The draft deal says the Pentagon would pull about 5,000 of its troops from five bases across Afghanistan by early next year. The Taliban in turn would ensure that no terrorist outfit – Al Qaeda and Islamic State – shall be able to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks against the US and its allies.

Separately the tripartite talks between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan were held in Islamabad. It was the third round of the talks under the initiative where the three countries take stock of the situation and agree to further cooperation in counter terrorism efforts. This forum expressed hope that the intra afghan talks shall soon begin to find an organic solution to ending war in the country. Experts are of the view that the recent breakdown shall prove to be a temporary one and that the process shall resume soon as both Taliban and the US president are eager to get out of this war of decades the soonest possible. The Taliban wants to be at the helm again, the one that was snatched away from them post the 9/11. And president Trump wants to face his electorate with at least one major electoral promise that he delivered on.