Recently US President Joe Biden envisaged a new peace plan to set the future path for peace in Afghanistan. Under the plan, a regional conference has been proposed under the aegis of the United States, in which the peace process in Afghanistan will be discussed with the foreign ministers of the United States, India, Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran through an ‘integrated approach.
Key highlights of Biden’s new peace plan
Proposed Truce: The United States is pressuring the Taliban to accept an immediate agreement to stop violence for at least 90 days so that a new path can be found to establish peace.
Deferred army withdrawal: This peace plan has reinforced the possibility that US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan may remain in there for a longer period. Earlier, under the US-Taliban agreement, the US promised to bring all the troops back to the US by May 2021.
Holistic permanent solution: The US will not impose any kind of ‘condition’ on the Afghan sides; rather the US will provide an inclusive interim government, an agreement based on ‘fundamental principles’ for the new political system and a system of ‘permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. The US asked the United Nations to hold talks with foreign ministers of China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States to develop an ‘integrated approach’ to peace in Afghanistan.
Role of Turkey: The US is pushing Turkey to join in the peace agreement in Kabul and help in finalizing the deal.
India’s role in the peace process
India can play a very important role in the process of establishing peace and the US has also accepted this fact. India supports all efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, which are based on Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled approach.
India can play an important role in setting standards especially related to terrorism, violence, women’s rights and democratic values.
Peace significance for India
India has invested heavily in developing infrastructure, training security forces and supplying the necessary equipment. The stability of Afghanistan is very important from India’s point of view because it has invested a lot in the development.
Economic and Strategic Interests:
For India, Afghanistan is a gateway to the oil and mineral-rich Central Asian states. Afghanistan controls the land routes connecting India to Central Asia. So stability in the region is imperative for India.
Large scale construction projects have a big significance for Indian companies. These major projects include Afghan Parliament, Delaram-Zaranj Highway and Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam) etc.
India is affected by Pakistan-backed state-sponsored terrorism, which supports terrorist groups operating in the region such as the Haqqani network. Therefore, establishing a friendly government in Afghanistan can help in tackling Pakistan-backed terrorism.
Tough road ahead
Both the Afghan government and the Taliban are not ready for the sharing of power in any way. The Taliban is not willing to leave their refuge in Pakistan, nor do they are agreeing to liberalise the strict Islamic system in Afghanistan.
Besides, the Taliban itself is internally divided. It is made up of various regional and tribal groups which operate more or less in autonomy. Given the above situation, some of them may continue violent activities, which will affect the peace and dialogue process.
Although the new initiative by the US is an important step, the road ahead will be very challenging. To establish lasting peace in Afghanistan, all sides will need to adopt a central path.
A sovereign, democratic and inclusive Afghanistan is imperative for establishing peace and stability in the region. For achieving so, Afghan leadership and Afghan control are sine qua non to ensure the Afghan peace process.