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Little Hope

The Pakistanis are looking forward to the resolution of the civil war in Afghanistan for a number of reasons, one of which is the opportunity to recruit out of work fighters as jihadis for Kashmir. This is only one of the many elements that hinge upon the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government that began on Saturday for a proposed peace in the much beleaguered nation. India, too, has concerns about what would occur there as it has invested heavily for the prosperity of that country, and its own strategic interests. It has taken months for the two contending parties to begin talks after a US-Taliban deal on conditions for American troop withdrawal (a commitment President Donald Trump had made to his people).
This important development is the latest act of a tragic drama that has been played out in the region for decades, ever since the Soviets decided to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. The ongoing Corona pandemic may have put the issue in the background for the while, but it is an equally tragic one that has destroyed the lives of entire generations of the Afghan people. It may be noted that even though the Taliban dominates in certain parts of the country, even during its own rule, it could not subjugate the Northern Alliance. Nor could they, in turn, be wiped out by the present dispensation in Kabul, even with the help of the Americans. This should make clear to all concerned that force of arms cannot unite the nation, much less take it forward towards progress.
Even as the talks were to begin and the crucial issue of releasing prisoners by both sides being carried out, the Taliban continued with their attacks, the latest being the one in which the Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh had a narrow escape. This indicates the refusal of the Taliban to compromise on their agenda which sees no future for a democratic, liberal and modern society. Afghanistan’s strategic location is of interest not just to Pakistan and India, but also Iran and China. Iran cannot have a hardline Sunni state as its neighbour with all that it implies. China cares little for Afghanistan’s welfare and is willing to make self-serving deals with anybody to bypass the emerging Quad blockade. Pakistan is a willing cohort in this strategy. So, except for India, no other regional force cares a fig for the well-being of Afghanistan’s common people. Should the Taliban get their share of power after the talks, it is only a matter of time before they eliminate the others in Kabul. This will trigger another tragic phase in Afghanistan as the peace that results will be that of the graveyard.