By Iftikhar Hussain Jazib
President Ashraf Ghani’s December 2015 Pakistan visit and joint inauguration of Heart of Asia Conference with Pakistani Prime Minister came as a breakthrough for a fresh restart of peace and reconciliation dialogue with Taliban. In recent quadrilateral meetings of Pakistan, Afghanistan, USA and China, all the parties further explored this issue and decided to make all-out efforts to facilitate and support this process. According to the media reports, Pakistan’s viewpoint on all issues pertaining to Afghanistan including Taliban’s takeover of Kunduz was hailed by USA and China in these meetings. However, peace and reconciliation is a sensitive matter, despite Pakistan’s unequivocal efforts, its success lays mainly on Afghan Government’s own political will. Therefore, the hostile forces within Afghanistan should not be allowed to undermine this process once again.
The reported troubles in the unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and dismissal of NDS head by President Ashraf Ghani reflect the complexity of the current situation in Afghanistan. Some elements of NDS announced the death of Mullah Omar in July without the consent of president Ghani and his efforts for peace and reconciliation with Taliban were sabotaged. In December 2015, when he was set to initiate fresh efforts in this regard, same elements of NDS launched a false propaganda campaign to prove Mullah Mansour as assassinated in a gun fight. Therefore, it is an uphill task for Afghan Government to proceed with this process as enemies of Pakistan and Afghanistan do not want stability in this region. Same elements in NDS are against intelligence sharing with Pakistan’s ISI and a memorandum of understanding between Afghanistan and Pakistan in this regard could not be implemented due to the antagonistic approach of Afghan officials. Actually, this negative policy was responsible for fall of Kunduz, as revealed by some sources.
In the midst of worrisome troubles in Afghanistan, Taliban’s takeover of Kunduz was the most embarrassing development for US and all its allies in War Against terrorism and it has made everyone doubtful about Afghan institutions’ capability and commitment to counter ongoing insurgency. Apparently, Taliban’s attack came as a surprise because Afghan National Army and NDS were totally unprepared to confront this invasion. When Taliban insurgents launched this attack, the personnels of Afghan security forces were running for their lives in panic, while the gravity of the matter only became known to rest of the world when general public started uploading selfies on the social media with Taliban fighters. This utterly incompetent, incapacitated and unpopular image of Afghan government was an international embarrassment. Unfortunately, instead of putting its own house in order, Afghan government, specially NDS started blaming Pakistan’s ISI for Kunduz debacle as usual. However, highly placed sources in diplomatic circles believed that US government has rejected lame excuses of Afghanistan as Pakistan has shared concrete evidence with CIA in this regard.
Some sources in Pakistan and USA have revealed that senior military and intelligence officials of Pakistan have shared those reports with Americans in which Afghan government was given early warning about preparations of a major Taliban attack in Afghanistan. According to these sources, Pakistan sent first report about Afghan Taliban’s activities in March 2015, 6 month prior to the Kunduz debacle. NDS received these reports from Pakistani authorities on monthly bases till August 2015 but surprisingly, NDS and Afghan National Army did not make efforts to thwart this invasion. Moreover, Pakistani officials have also pointed out that a few hundred militants could not mount such attack without insider support. It is unbelievable that 14000 troops of Afghan National Army and hundreds of NDS operatives were completely unaware of Taliban activities in Kunduz. Informed sources have further told that Pakistan has also shared intelligence reports on this attack in advance with other important regional countries including China; therefore, its viewpoint is hailed by international community.
In fact, the fall of Kunduz was direct result of troubles in the unity government of Afghanistan and post Kunduz situation has made these faultlines more visible. Many journalists believe that the fall of Kunduz was result of rival political interests of president Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani had appointed Mohammad Omar Safi as governor of Kunduz against the wishes of Dr Abdullah. Therefore, a local Tajik militia commander Mir Alam, who was an ally of Dr Abdullah, was not cooperating with the governor of Kunduz. Thus, these parallel governments with conflicting interests made the matters worst in the province, which ultimately gave space to Taliban to mount this attack. The oppression of some war lords against Pashtuns has also increased support for Taliban in Kunduz, according to some analysts.
Afghanistan’s governments were supposed to resolve Afghanistan’s problems in last 15 years but unfortunately, Afghanistan did not get much success and all the major issues are still unresolved. Government functionaries and their family members were involved in various vices, while political considerations strengthened warlords. The corrupt practices of ex President Hamid Karzai’s government dragged every institution of the country in unaccounted corruption. Dr Abdullah, who remained his Foreign Minister till 2006, became the strongest opponent of Karzai for same reasons and quit his government. Now, when he is Chief Executive of Afghanistan, he is also not making efforts to shape the environment for betterment of Afghanistan due to his political considerations.
In this troublesome situation, the success of peace and reconciliation dialogue depends on President Ashraf Ghani’s political will and skills, as besides convincing Taliban, Ghani will also have to develop consensus with his political partners and rivals for a future deal in this regard. Moreover, the ground realities had proved that NDS allegations on ISI for involvement in Afghanistan are completely wrong, To the contrary, it is actually following an antagonist policy. Such overtures of Afghan institutions and government functionaries have hurt the interests of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past. Therefore, we must realize that only a relationship based on mutual trust and respect can help in overcoming the woes of both the nations.
The writer tweets@radiant_j_007