President Ghani has finally announced his much-anticipated three-phase plan for peace in Afghanistan. The only problem however, is that it looks to be set as a competing strategy when looking at the US plans for the state after the May 1 deadline. The US government indications are towards an interim set up that brings both political leaders from the government and the Afghan Taliban on the same table alongside other stakeholders. But President’s Ghani’s plan offers no such thing.
It instead proposes a consensus on political settlement with an internationally monitored ceasefire as the first stage. The second stage involves a Presidential election and the formation of a new government to put the proposed consensus into action. The last phase relates to constitutional framing, refugee repatriation and development in the country.
The US, which backs Afghanistan’s government, is hoping some sort of deal will be reached by the Taliban and the Kabul administration at a peace conference due to take place in Turkey later this month. Meanwhile, it appears more and more difficult that Washington will ensure all foreign forces are out of Afghanistan by the beginning of May, though some say the Taliban may promise to halt attacks if the deadline is in fact extended.
Indeed, the sooner the foreign forces leave Afghanistan and let the Afghans decide their own destiny, the better it will be. However, this must be an orderly process and the US and its allies cannot just cut and run, much like the Soviets did at the end of the Afghan ‘jihad’. While the US and the Taliban had signed a peace accord in Doha last year — under which the May 1 deadline has been set — there has been no corresponding agreement among the Afghan stakeholders. A power sharing agreement with the Taliban and other stakeholders must finally be chalked out for the attacks on civilians and security forces to stop. And for that, the US must push its strategy further, so that there is more support for it within the government and policy circles of Afghanistan.