Dhaka Courier

Talks between US and Taliban for peace in Afghanistan

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U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2019. Photo from U.S Embassy Kabul

The history of Afghanistan’s war since the communist military coup on 27 April 1978, known as the Saur Revolution, when the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took power. Since that day, an almost continuous series of armed conflicts has dominated and afflicted Afghanistan.

After this Saur Revolution, most of Afghanistan experienced uprisings against the PDPA government. The Soviet–Afghan War began in December 1979 to replace the existing communist government. Afghanistan's resistance forces, known as the mujahideen, fought against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Some factions received support from the United States, with the Pakistani ISI serving as the U.S. middleman, and Saudi Arabia. The Soviet Union had to withdraw its troops in February 1989. The Soviet-backed Afghan communist government survived for three more years until the fall of Kabul in 1992.

In 1992, the Afghan political parties agreed on the Peshawar Accords which established the Islamic State of Afghanistan and appointed an interim government. Militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was opposed to the agreement and with Pakistani support started a bombardment campaign against Kabul. Additionally, three militias that had been able to occupy some suburbs of Kabul engaged in a violent war against each other.

Regional powers such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India and Uzbekistan seeking influence over the geo-strategically located Afghanistan each supported and in some cases controlled one of those militias. While Kabul and some other major cities experienced most of the fighting during that period, most of the more rural parts of Afghanistan, which had suffered especially massive bombardment by the Soviets and Communists, remained relatively calm. In late 1994/early 1995, as the Islamic State's minister of defense Ahmad Shah Massoud had been able to defeat most of the militias militarily in Kabul and had restored some calm to the capital, the Taliban emerged as a new faction threatening Kabul.

The Taliban had initially emerged as a new force in the southern city of Kandahar conquering many southern and central provinces not under Islamic State control in the course of 1994. In early 1995, as they launched a major operation against the capital Kabul, they suffered a devastating defeat against the Islamic State forces of Massoud in what many analysts saw as the movement's end.

 By 1996, however, they had regrouped with massive military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia. In September 1996 they took power in Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The United Islamic Front (Northern Alliance) was created under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud as a military-political resistance force against the Taliban Emirate which was backed militarily by Pakistan's Army and enforced by several thousand al-Qaeda fighters from Arab countries and Central Asia.

Following the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, NATO invaded Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom. The purpose of this was to defeat al-Qaeda, to remove the Taliban from power, and to create a viable democratic state to deny terrorists a place to recruit and operate. Although some of these objectives were achieved, a protracted and costly period of intervention followed and continues as of 2019.

Although Peace talks between US and Taliban officials began late last year, some women in Afghanistan fear the freedoms eked out since US-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001 could slide backwards, and that their voices are being sidelined.

"The international community's silent response is alarming to say the least," said Academy Award-winning Angelina Jolie and refugee activist, a special envoy for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which she began working with 18 years ago. "There can be no peace or stability in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world that involves trading away the rights of women."

"In Afghanistan thousands of women have recently come together in public risking their lives to ask that their rights and the rights of their children be guaranteed in peace negotiations that so far they have been allow no part of," Jolie told a ministerial meeting on UN peacekeeping.

While the Taliban has said in official statements they might consider more liberal policies towards women, their chief negotiator has said the constitution, which protects women's rights, is an obstacle to peace, said the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Jolie also touted the importance of a United States that is "part of an international community," after a retreat by US President Donald Trump from UN agencies and global agreements that has some countries concerned about his commitment to multilateralism.

"I'm a patriot, I love my country and I want to see it thrive. I also believe that America that is part of an international community work together on equal footing and how we reduce the risk of conflict," she said.

"A country that believes that all men and women are born free and equal cannot be true to itself if it doesn't defend those principles for all people, , wherever they live," she said.

How true is the reported statement of Ms. Angelina Jolie at the ministerial meeting on UN peacekeeping on 22nd March 2019.

Barrister Harun ur Rashid, Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

  • Peace talks between US and Taliban officials for peace in Afghanistan
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  • Barrister Harun ur Rashid
  • Vol 35
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