Home Contact Us  

Afghanistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4983, 6 February 2016
Afghan Peace Process: Headed Down a Blind Alley?
Monish Gulati
Independent Analyst, New Delhi
E-mail: m_gulati_2001@yahoo.com

The second meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process was held in Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 18, 2016, a week after the first round of discussions concluded in Islamabad, Pakistan. The second meeting of the QCG had called on all Taliban groups to "accept the government's call for peace through dialogue" and end the senseless violence against the Afghan people.

The QCG meetings do not include Taliban representatives, and are part of a three-step process:

a. Formulating a roadmap
b. Inviting the armed opposition to the negotiating table 
c. Implementing the peace plan

The roadmap would include identification of the Taliban factions for negotiations, a timetable and incentives to be offered. It is expected that two more rounds of these “preparatory meetings” will take place. The third QCG meeting will be held on 06 February 2016, in Islamabad.

Though the unstated objective of the QCG meetings is to build trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan, little progress has been made on this front, and consequently, there appears to be no clarity on how to shape the peace process. Also lacking is the consensus on incentives that can persuade the Taliban to give up violence and pursue a political approach. Furthermore, it is still unclear as to which Taliban groups are willing to join the peace process. The dissident Taliban faction under Mullah Akhund has already rejected the offer for peace talks, conditioning it with the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan. The situation is also complicated by the fact that some Taliban have joined Islamic State–Khorasan (IS-K), the Islamic State’s franchise in Afghanistan.

Differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan
Regarding peace talks, there exist differences between Kabul and Islamabad on matters relating to the roadmap. The Afghan government believes that the onus is on Pakistan to see the deal with the Taliban while Pakistan feels it can only facilitate to the extent that it can convince but not compel the Taliban for negotiations. It is for the Afghan government to find common ground with the Taliban and clinch the deal through appropriate political concessions.

Differences also exist between the two countries on to methods to deal with irreconcilable Taliban factions. Furthermore, quite understandably, the Afghan government, given the territorial gains made by the Taliban in the recent fighting, wants a timeline approach. Conversely, Pakistan wants open-ended peace talks without pre-conditions. Afghans are reportedly looking at a two-month period for breakthrough in talks.

Other Tangibles
While a conditional ceasefire agreement in the next few weeks is extremely crucial to the continuation of the peace process given the Taliban fight-talk approach, the growing activities of the IS in Afghanistan too increase the importance of the current peace initiative and a time-bound progress.

The resurgence of al Qaeda, and its strengthening relationship with the Taliban, is another issue of urgent concern. First, al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri pledged allegiance to the new Taliban Chief Mullah Mansour, who accepted it. The latter also appointed al Qaeda affiliated Sirajuddin Haqqani as one of his two deputies.

Second, and more significantly, as per the US’ reports, in 2015, the Taliban permitted al Qaeda to run at least three training camps inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan adds to the density of the issue by claiming that terror strikes inside its territory are being orchestrated by militants based in Afghanistan, a part of the pattern of cross-border terrorism that is undermining peace efforts in the region.

Key Developments
There have been some key developments between the second and the third QCG meetings. The Taliban continues to increase its territorial gains both in the north and south of Afghanistan, with 40 Afghan districts under their direct control, and another 39 at the risk of meeting the same fate.

On 24 January 2016, the Taliban, met with Afghan lawmakers and civil society members at an informal two-day organised by Pugwash in Doha. They reiterated their preconditions for the resumption of peace talks with Kabul. These included removing from international terror blacklists their leaders, all bounties on their heads, and the release of an unspecified number of prisoners. The Taliban's spokesperson called the talks “positive.” Afghan government officials did not attend the meeting.

The other “preliminary steps needed for peace” demanded by the Taliban includes the reopening of its political office in Doha and its recognition as the only entity authorised to carry out negotiations on its behalf. The Taliban said it is serious about peace and establishing an “independent Islamic system,” committed to “civil activities,” free speech, and “women's rights in the light of Islamic rules, national interests and values.” The Taliban also claimed that it does not allow its territory to be used to “harm others,” and it is not open to power-sharing with the government in Kabul.

Significantly, while there appears to be an increased Chinese interest in the ongoing reconciliation process, the US is signalling that it is recalibrating its mission in Afghanistan to prolong its military presence.

Given the entrenched position on all sides, the third QCG in Islamabad appears headed down a blind alley.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Md Farijuddin Khan,
"The US’ Tilt towards India: Overview and Projections," 16 December 2015
Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy,
"Afghanistan: Takeaways from the Kunduz Offensive," 5 October 2015

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Russia-Turkey: Implications of the New Arms Deal

FSI and South Asia

Russia-Japan: Onset of a Thaw?

The Pathankot Terrorist Attack and India’s Afghanistan Policy

Indian Military Aid for Afghanistan: Syrian Lessons

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.