Lasting Peace

A noteworthy stance in an otherwise plausible deniabil­ity of the Taliban regarding the presence of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan has come up as the Deputy Interim Interior Minister of the Taliban “urges” the TTP and Pakistan to engage in talks once again. Coming from a minister, it becomes an official stance. Admittedly, the Taliban-mediated talks between the two in mid-2022 ended in vain, however, the mediator role the Taliban needs to play here must be more than just inviting the two sides, providing a place, and sitting along as the talks proceed.

We have seen how the last talks ended in a deadlock and how the TTP is bent over its illegitimate demands. Here the Taliban must use to their connections to the TTP to influence an outcome. After the failure of the last talks, Pakistan has come back as more rigid and unwilling to enter into another phase of talks. The reason is simple, TTP repeats the pattern of reorganising in the background of the peace talks, buying some time and breaking the truce again only to attack Paki­stan with more force. This has happened in and around all the peace talks in the past, and hence a very solid reason for Pak­istan to not get into the trap again. 

If the Taliban actually care about peace and are committed to being statesmen, they have to think like diplomats and prioritise their regional and international relations over historic affiliation with a militant group. “Urging” for talks is only half an expression of the desirability for peace. Involvement in the peace process, to an extent where they influence the TTP to give up on their unjust demands and also their weapons, is the actual statesman role the Taliban have long shied away from. As long as the Taliban seek to appease both sides, they will end up pleasing no one.

The rouge factors that pick up arms against the state of Paki­stan can do the same against the Taliban if a conflict of interest occurs. The Taliban must realise that Afghanistan’s peace is tied with the region’s peace and sheltering the TTP is a threat to the collective, shared peace. After decades of turmoil, it is in their hands to bring the long-awaited lasting peace to this region.

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