Searching for an elusive peace

What is Important?
From UPSC Perspectives
Prelims:Key facts
Mains:Highlights,Concern,Challenges & Role of India

Why in News?

Afghan government controls barely half the country, with one-sixth under Taliban control and the rest contested.


  • Russia hosted a regional conference on Afghanistan to nudge the reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities
  • Representatives from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, the U.S. and India were also present at the meeting, making it the first time that all stakeholders were present in the same room.
  • Considerable political manoeuvring preceded the meeting. It was earlier planned for September, but failed to materialise. The Taliban were opposed to attending since the Afghan government insisted on co-chairing the meeting.
  • The diplomatic solution was to have Afghanistan represented by the High Peace Council (HPC), set up and supported by the government with the specific aim of furthering peace talks, though formally not part of government.

Taliban reconciliation

  • The idea of reconciliation with the Taliban has been around for over a decade,As the Taliban insurgency grew 2005 onwards, the British, deployed in Helmand, soon found merit in doing side deals with local Taliban commanders by turning a blind eye to opium production in the area
  • With the help of the Germans and the Norwegians, they began to persuade the U.S. to work for a political outcome.After being elected in 2008, President Barack Obama ordered a full-scale review of the U.S.’s Afghanistan policy
  • Operation Enduring Freedom formally ended in December 2014, handing over primary responsibility for combat operations to the Afghan security forces even as the insurgency gained ground
  • The U.S. had realised that it had run out of options
  • Coming to power in 2014 after a bitterly contested election, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani moved to improve relations with Pakistan, even calling on then Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, at the GHQ, to push for reconciliation
  • In December 2015, Russia publicly acknowledged that it had “communication channels with the Taliban for the exchange of information” and “a shared interest with the Taliban to counter the threat posed by the IS”
  • A new initiative (Quadrilateral Coordination Group) involving the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan was launched in January 2016
  • After a couple of meetings, there was a roadmap; Pakistan was to use its influence to get the Taliban to the negotiating table.Mr. Ghani launched the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation, and in February, made an unconditional dialogue offer to the Taliban

Role of India in Afghanistan

Democratic India cannot afford to let things slide, without effectively trying to find ways and means to change a situation which is certainly not to our advantage. As a regional superpower, India has high stakes in Afghanistan.
  •  Ramp up economic diplomacy in Afghanistan to bring immediate benefits to Kabul amidst the deteriorating conditions in the country.
  •  Step up security cooperation with Afghanistan, especially in the training of its police and armed forces and intelligence sharing.
  •  India must counter the emerging argument that Trump’s new approach will intensify the Indo-Pak rivalry in Afghanistan and the old one that Kashmir holds the key to peace in Afghanistan.
  • India needs to open channels of communication to Taliban and put their focused attention in instilling peace.
  •  Not only is there the ‘human cost’ involved but also the humanitarian assistance that we have been providing. Moreover, if Afghanistan was to disintegrate, we might stand to lose our cultural and civilizational connection as well.

Way forward:
  • India doesn’t have the leverage to play spoiler but its presence is recognition that its economic cooperation programmes make it the most widely accepted development partner
  • During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s India visit, both countries expressed their commitment to the Moscow Format
  • Pragmatism dictates that India remain engaged with the multiple processes underway
  • Peace remains elusive but India’s engagement demonstrates the commitment to the idea of a stable, independent and peaceful Afghanistan

Searching for an elusive peace Searching for an elusive peace Reviewed by The Hindu Current Affairs on November 16, 2018 Rating: 5

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