EU pushes India, Pakistan to back Afghanistan peace bid

Source:-EU pushes India, Pakistan to back Afghanistan peace bid

Europe is trying to move countries in this region to get the Taliban to accept a peace offer made by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani during the Kabul process in March this year. The Taliban have, since then, publicly rejected the election process, attacking voter registration centres etc. Last week they announced the start of their spring offensive, the season of intensive fighting.

But they haven’t openly rejected the peace offer either, as they did last year when a similar offer was made. That is a ray of hope for EU’s special envoy Roland Kobia, who was in India this week to talk to Indian officials to support Ghani’s offer and make a push on that front. That’s a tough sell in India because New Delhi does not believe that the peace offer is the beginning of a peace process. Pakistan, India believes, continues to use the Taliban as its proxy to keep a control on Afghanistan, never having given up its quest for strategic depth against India.

The European Union, however, believes a process can start if the Taliban can be persuaded to begin talks with the Ghani government. “We deeply believe that the more the process is between Afghans with less foreign influence, the better the prospects for peace and security,” Kobia said in a conversation with TOI. The US too is trying to push Pakistan to get the Taliban to accept the peace offer and begin talks, something that was discussed during a recent visit to India by a senior official from State Department Alice Wells.

 “To us, it is an encouraging sign that the Taliban have not yet answered because if they had responded immediately, it would have been a rejection. They have rejected the elections and have now announced the spring offensive. But they haven’t rejected the peace offer. Which compared to the past, notably, to Kabul one, is a major difference. There seems to be an evolution there. There seems to be something happening within the Taliban movement and/ or with foreign partners that have influence or leverage on the Taliban that seems to be a discussion of what to do with this offer. This I think is a rather encouraging sign.” An attack near the EU embassy in Kabul recently was traced to the Taliban, but many believe there was some amount of conflicting opinion within the Taliban, especially about attacking civilians. But for the moment, the hardliners within the Taliban seem to be winning the argument.

One of the problems seems to be a multiplicity of conversations with the Taliban. Kobia said, “The difficulty is that about 15-17 countries talk to the Taliban, so many countries have channels. And hence exert some influence.”

Pakistan is at the head of that group, with an outsized influence on the Taliban. Acknowledging it, Kobia said, “Pakistan is a key actor in the region for stability and for talking to them (Taliban). Pakistan needs to step up its efforts when it comes to convincing all the different groups to join the negotiating table … and translate into concrete terms the commitments taken in Kabul and Tashkent by all countries.”

 India says it is for an ‘Afghan-owned, Afghan-led’ peace process, but remains wary of Pakistan’s intentions. To this has been added the recent activities of Russia and Iran, both of which have opened their own channels of communication with Taliban, since they feel threatened by the growth of Daesh/ISIS in the country. They believe the Taliban should be supported to act against Daesh. While the US does not fully accept this Russian argument, believing the Russians are only assisting the Taliban to hurt the US, Europe is more inclined to be on the same page as Russia with regard to Daesh. European countries, unlike India, won’t put ISIS and Taliban in the same box. There lies a lot of the difference between India and Europe, despite the fact that both have the biggest development footprint in Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

Source:- TNN

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