Ghani’s unacceptable bluster


WEB DESK: The three-member Afghan Taliban team from the political office in Qatar has not come for peace talks in framework of Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group; it is here in compliance with the order of their chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour and their visit is ‘in the interest of both countries [Pakistan and Afghanistan] and would have fruitful results’.

What that ‘fruitful results’ are going to be it remains a mystery, especially when only a day before in his speech at the Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference in New Delhi the Foreign Secretary said Pakistan remains seriously engaged with other QCG members for early direct talks between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban. Interestingly, the arrival of the Taliban team almost coincided with the visit here of the United States Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Jonathan Carpenter.

It would be grossly improper to suggest that the two sides met in Islamabad, but no less interestingly in its latest take on situation in Afghanistan the State Department appreciated the “positive role” Pakistan in sharp contrast to its strong criticism a week before. Perhaps, in the wake of Afghan Taliban’s spring offensive the political situation in Afghanistan is undergoing a dramatic change.

Maybe, instead of sitting with the Afghan government on the negotiating table the Taliban find fighting it on the ground a better option. Reportedly, they have good presence in 15 of the 32 provinces, control almost the whole of Helmand province and are moving unto Kunduz and Kabul, undeterred by more than quarter of a million Afghan army and active airpower provided by the United States.

If there was any doubt about their clout in and around the capital city of Kabul they removed it by blowing up an explosive-laden truck close to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) building. That was the opening shot fired by the Afghan Taliban’s spring offensive codenamed ‘Operation Omri’ to ‘renew the Jihadi determination’ and score ‘strategic victories’.

Obviously, with so much in hand the Afghan Taliban find little interest in joining the Kabul government at the QCG peace table – in contrast to their presence at Murree for peace talks which were sabotaged by some clever minds in Ghani-headed unity government. The Ghani-Abdullah may have defeated the Hamid Karzai group in the last national election, but what they seem to have inherited and preserved is his policy of blaming Pakistan for any and everything that goes wrong in their country.

In the case of Kabul explosion, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah took no time to announce cancellation of his scheduled visit to Pakistan in light of “initial evidence of today’s suicide attack”. Then at specially called joint session of parliament President Ashraf Ghani warned he would lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council against Pakistan if it did not take punitive action against Taliban leaders based on its soil. What a mockery – Pakistan is bending backward at the cost of breaking its back to appease Ghani-Abdullah duo to receive in return rebuke of being mischief-monger.

And then he went a step further saying Kabul doesn’t expect Pakistan to bring Taliban to the table, completely forgetting that it was Pakistan which hosted the first and only round of talks the Afghan government could have with their nemesis, the Afghan Taliban, and even when Kabul has been in cahoots with runaway Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists.

On the face of it, the situation on the ground is heavily tilted against the government in Kabul. But instead of accepting the reality and try finding common ground with Taliban, President Ghani somehow thought it fit to warn from the floor of parliament that only those Taliban would be engaged who have some reason to be granted amnesty. However, the emerging ground realities in the Afghanistan don’t warrant such a hollow bluff and bluster. And this cuts out a new role for the Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group – it should become a trilateral forum and invite Afghan government and Afghan Taliban as equal partners to discuss power-sharing mechanism.

Source: Business Recorder