PEACE TALKS ON AFGHANISTAN: A COMMENT
"Delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States held talks on Monday to try to resurrect efforts to end nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan, even as fighting with Taliban insurgents intensifies. The officials met in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, to launch a process that they hope will lead to negotiations with the Taliban, who are fighting to re-impose their strict brand of Islamist rule and did not attend Monday's talks. The Pakistani prime minister's foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, said the primary goal should be to convince the Taliban to come to the table and consider giving up violence. "It is therefore important that preconditions are not attached to the start of the negotiation process. This, we argue, will be counterproductive," he said. "The threat of use of military action against irreconcilables cannot precede the offer of talks to all the groups." Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry were joined by Richard Olson, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and General Anthony Rock, the top U.S. defense representative in Pakistan, as well as China's special envoy on Afghan affairs, Deng Xijun. "Participants emphasized the immediate need for direct talks between representatives of the Government of Afghanistan and representatives from Taliban groups in a peace process that aims to preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It said the group would discuss a road map at its next meeting, on Jan. 18 in Kabul".Asad Hashim & Tommy Wilkes, "Effort to revive Afghan peace talks begins in Pakistan". Reuters. 11 January 2016, in www.reuters.com
"It is, of course well known that the only source of war is politics---the intercourse of governments and peoples; but it is apt to be assumed that war suspends that intercourse and replaces it by a wholly different condition, ruled by no law but its own. We maintain, on the contrary, that war is simply a continuation of political intercourse with the addition of other means."Karl von Clausewitz. On War. Translated and Edited by Michael Howard & Peter Paret. (1976). p. 605. Whether or not or indeed exactly how the 'peace talks' in Afghanistan between the regime in Kabul and the Taliban progresses, it all and I repeat in employing the mot 'all' depends upon the course of 'interaction' that takes place on the battlefield. If the Taliban succeed in undertaking more and more aggressive and successful attacks on government forces in not only the South and East of the country and in the rural areas, but also in other parts of the country and in the urban areas where the government in Kabul should have the upper hand, then do not, repeat not, expect much by way of any advances in the peace talks between the two sides. As it is very much the case, that the Taliban have not the least interest in sincerely exploring a negotiated settlement unless and until it has been shown conclusively that it cannot expect to win or even to lose well on the battlefield. Until the regime in Kabul and its Western backers are able to drive into the collective minds of the Taliban leadership that it has nothing to gain by continuing the armed struggle, will peace talks reach a definitive and successful stage. Until then, all talks will be merely a form of playacting and nothing more. And as of to-day it is very much the case that the nothing which is occurring on the battlefield can be said to be disposing the Taliban towards the idea that further armed struggle will not be fruitful for them. As the American defense expert, Anthony Cordesman, noted a few weeks ago:
"It has now been almost exactly a year since U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat forces formally left Afghanistan. So far, the Afghan government and Afghan forces are losing at every level: Politics, governance, economics, security, and popular support. This becomes brutally clear from the metrics available on the war, as well as from virtually all media reporting." 1Until the facts on the ground in Afghanistan change, do not expect anything to come of the so-called 'peace talks'. 1. Anthony Cordesman, "Afghanistan a Year After "Transition": Losing the War at Every Level". The Center for Strategic and International Studies. 22 December 2015 in www.csis.org.