Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announces team to hold peace talks with Taliban.
• In December 2018, Afghanistan, USA and Taliban has started talks over Afghanistan Peace Process in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The key stakeholders observed that the slow progress in the peace process remains productive.
• USA troop withdrawal: In December 2018, USA announced withdrawal of its troop from Afghanistan amidst ongoing talks with Taliban in Abu Dhabi.
• Taliban’s Conditions: The Taliban wants the pullout of International Forces as a pre-condition for talks. USA withdrawal of almost 50% of the troops from Afghanistan may be the result of negotiations from Taliban.
• Afghan Government’s Conditions:
- The constitutional rights and obligations, of all citizens, especially women, should be ensured.
- No organisation that has ties with “terrorist networks” will be allowed to join the political process.
- Agreement within the framework of an Inclusive and Democratic Society.
Chronology of Afghan Peace Efforts:
• Heart of Asia (or Istanbul Process):
- The process aimed to promote politico-security cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.
- India hosted 6th Ministerial Conference of Istanbul Process which resulted into Amritsar declaration aimed at elimination of terrorism immediately. It was launched in 2011 with three main pillars:
- Cooperation with Regional Organizations,
- Political Conference
- Confidence Building Measures.
• Kabul Peace Process and Security Cooperation: It aimed at Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive peace process. It was launched in June 2017. It is a gathering of 23 nations along with the European Union, United Nations and NATO intended to discuss security and political issues in the Afghanistan.
• Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan: It was launched in March 2018 when Kabul peace process did not result into concrete solutions. It called on the Taliban to accept the Afghan peace offer and cease violence.
• Moscow Format: It aims for political solution to the Afghan crisis. It took place in November 2018. This is the first time India directly participated into any Afghan peace talk where Taliban representatives were also present. In this twelve nations plus Taliban held talks.
- Russia seeks to end the violence by political agreement with Taliban.
- India believes that if Taliban returns to power then the various gains made in Afghanistan such as freedom of media, human rights regime etc. will be reversed.
• United Nations conference on Afghanistan in Geneva: The Geneva Conference on Afghanistan took place on Nov. 27-28, 2018. It emphasized upon the need to show solidarity with Afghan people to ensure peace and security in Afghanistan.
• During Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979-89, India recognized USSR backed Democratic republic of Afghanistan.
• India did not extend its support to Taliban government in 1990s and even supported anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.
• In 2016, PM Narendra Modi was conferred with Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award.
Significance of Afghanistan:
• Afghanistan remains a gateway to energy rich Central Asia.
• Stability and Peace in Afghanistan is necessary for elimination of terrorism from South Asian region.
• The country also has huge reserves of oil, gas and rare earth metals. Both India and Afghanistan signed Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2011.
India Afghanistan Bilateral Cooperation:
• Infrastructure: India helped in construction of Salma dam in Herat province, Afghan Parliament and Zaranj to Delaram road.
• Security: The capacity building of Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in fighting terrorism along with three Mi-25 attack helicopters has been provided by Indian government.
• Trade: “India-Afghanistan Joint Working Group on Trade, Commerce and Investment” has been formed to explore ways for increasing trade. The development of Chahbahar port in Iran will help boost trade ties.
• The world has witnessed that 17 year old war has brought nothing but the demise of hopes and aspirations of the Afghan people in particular and the world community in general.
• It is high time to end this war by bringing up the permanent political solution through Afghan Peace Process to ensure peace in Asia and the World.