The notorious Taliban militant organization announced the opening of their new “office” in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday in what is being called an effort to hold “peace negotiations’ with the United States of America. They are looking for, as we previously reported, a political solution that would bring about a “just” government and end foreign occupation of Afghanistan.
The U.S. has agreed to hold the meeting and now we wait for probably the most important negotiations of contemporary world politics.
This may sound very confusing to many and would serve as a great platform for Afghan-American conspiracy theorists to come up with new speculations. And we cannot blame the people since the news is actually strange and unexpected.
The following are four major questions that need to be answered by all the parties involved.
After 12 years of destruction, war and death of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians, both the parties have agreed to talk about peace. The withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014 might have a lot to do with the decision but constant attacks by insurgents, more recently at Kabul International Airport, prove how fragile the state, even after negotiations, is going to be. So if the situation is as complicated as it was in the past few years, why have both the sides decided to negotiate now?
This question certainly doesn’t imply that there shouldn’t be any discussions at all. It’s just that people, especially in Taliban-stricken countries like Pakistan and (of course) Afghanistan, are wondering why wasn’t this step taken before? It would have saved a lot of lives. Why did the Taliban wait for the NATO forces to go away? Why didn’t the United States, during twelve years of war, realize that the removal of force from Afghanistan could yield positive results?
Why Doha, Qatar?
Another important question, that may not sound very important, is that why the militant organization has chosen Doha for its office. Interestingly enough, Qatar has built strong military ties with the U.S. over the years and is home to U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Center. Though Qatar has been the preferred centre for negotiations with Taliban, this is the first time ever the militant organization itself officially opened an “office” there.
Why Has Hamid Karzai Refused To Enter?
Just a few hours later when the United States agreed to talk to the Taliban leaders in Doha, Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to enter the discussions as a protest against the other two parties’ indifference towards his government. It’s a bit awkward for him to take this step because he has forever been in favor of holding peace negotiations with the organizations that has forever called him a U.S. puppet. Earlier this year in March, Karzai was all set to meet Taliban in Qatar to talk about ending the war in Afghanistan. Even if it is true that the Afghan President has backed out over misinformation and contradictory statements, this was not an opportunity to miss out on.
This could be a hindrance in the way of peace talks even before their commencement.
What’s Next? Especially For Pakistan And Afghanistan
The peace negotiations will mainly focus on the release of prisoners of war which majorly include Taliban militants held by the U.S. army in detention camps. So what’s the possible outcome of the talks? And will the militant leaders let go of their extremist stance? Because that is the main problem there. It has always been. And if the U.S. comes out satisfied will it take steps to stop the drone strikes in Pakistan? The Taliban want to be recognized as a strong political force and even if they shun al-Qaida, what’s the possibility of them not being any different from what they have been like for the past 12 years?
Also, will the talks include all the innocent lives destroyed by the U.S. and Taliban in the conflicted regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan? Because there are tens of thousands of them and it’s not like one can adopt the notion of ‘forgive and forget’ and ‘move on’ in this case. Will there be criminal prosecutions of war crimes in Afghanistan and violation of sovereignty by the U.S. in Pakistan?
These questions might have answers. But until and unless they are answered by the concerned parties those answers will remain theories. We also know that the solution to end a more-than-decade-long war will take time, actually a lot of it, but still, these questions ought to be answered to clear doubts. These talks are of great importance for the people who are, and have been in the past, affected by the decisions taken by both the parties involved in the negotiations. Let’s just hope something positive comes out of it.