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OSINT Report: Taliban Proposals for Peace in Afghanistan

Published Nov 18, 2018
Updated Jun 16, 2020

Analysis o f Taliban Demands in Moscow Peace Conference

Taliban proposals placed in the Moscow Conference held on 09 November denote substantial challenges in implementing the preliminary steps and fundamental demands that have been made by the Group.

A Transcript of the Speech delivered by delegation of so called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan at Moscow Conference held on 9 November would reveal the minimal demands and to what extent the group is willing to compromise on the same.

Representing what the Taliban claimed to be the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan an entity that has not been recognised by the international community but is attempting to gain legitimacy presented their views and demands in a very direct manner. On the other hand the Taliban call the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as, “Kabul Administration”.

The Taliban accepted that the conflict in Afghanistan is much longer than the 17 years that are being counted as such most recently by most analysts starting with 9/11 and the follow up Operation Enduring Freedom launched by the United States led Coalition et al.

The, “flames of fire,” have been burning as per the Taliban for the past four decades that would take back the instability to the period of Soviet invasion of the country in 1979. However the Taliban make no bones of their aversion to the US Operations in Afghanistan which is said to be to topple an, “Islamic System,” thus expanding the narrative of the confrontation to that of a religious divide which they claim has, “fomented geographical, ethnical, racial, religious and linguistic prejudices among the nation. ‘

Interestingly while having profited maximum from the drug trade in Afghanistan the Taliban blames the US for the same.

On the solutions the Taliban while emphasising the need for peace have outlined some of the steps that need to be taken for the same as, “Preliminary Steps”.

Preliminary Steps.

First in the list is the removal of the leadership from the Sanctions List with a view to enable the leadership to participate in the peace negotiations in different locations without any restrictions. There appears to be some movement in this sphere with proposal to remove sanctions and the pathway may be cleared if the route followed in the case of the Hizb e Islamic Gulbuddin (HIG) is any indication.

The second demand is the release of detainees, while some top leaders as Mullah Barader have been released by Pakistan, those who have been detained by the Afghan Government are also sought to be released. This demand will be difficult to be met as some of the fighters of the HIG are yet to be released. More over in the case of the Taliban the numbers in jail are very large and releasing them will be a complex exercise apart from creating disorder in society with a number of fighters having grave charges of human rights violations.

The third demand is for a formal office of for the so called Emirate. This has been a touchy issue as the Afghan government is chary of having two international representative channels, but the same is not unresolvable through some pragmatic approach being adopted for this purpose mainly by Kabul.

The next demand by the Taliban is to stop propaganda including blaming them for incidents such as, “blowing bridges, spraying acid on school students, making explosions on road side civilian vehicles, abducting people and committing other crimes,” committed by miscreants in the country which is, “blindly used…..against the Islamic Emirate as raw material for propaganda, and then when investigated, the results of those investigations are also not disclosed”.

The rebels are obviously refereing to the reports by the UN Afghan mission acronymed the UNAMA which has been meticulously compiling casualties of civilians and apportioning the blame to both the anti government nee Taliban and others and government forces. The data compiled by UNAMA is irrefutable and has formed the backbone of UN concerns on the state of human rights in the country. Thus any dilution may not be warranted.

Fundamental Demands

The fundamental demands have been stated as, “Obstacles to Peace,” by the Taliban and the first and foremost is the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. As the statement reads, “Peace in Afghanistan and withdrawal of foreign troops are tied with each other, because withdrawal of foreign troops practically paves the way for peace”.

Given the state of security in the country with varying estimates indicating that the Afghan Government — there are fears that complete pullout by the US and NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) may lead to a collapse. At the same time the US administration be it the present under President Donald Trump or the preceding under Mr Barack Obama has been fundamentally against extension of troop deployment, thus how the situation proceeds ahead remains to be seen. In tandem with the same there is a demand for termination of policy of War by the United States and Western powers in tandem with the Afghan government.

Establishment of an Islamic system is the second fundamental demand in tandem with which the Taliban reject the current Afghan Constitution calling the same as, “not reliable, because it has been copied from the West and has been imposed on Afghanistan’s Muslim society under the shadow of occupation”. Thus while accepting that Constitution is necessary to guarantee rights to the people, the Taliban demand that the same should be redrafted and, “based on principles of Islamic religion, national interests, historical achievements and social justice. It should be committed to human dignity, national values and human rights, and could guarantee territorial integrity of the country and all rights of all the citizens”.

The Taliban have also sought international guarantees to any peace agreement including by the United Nations, major power and also members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

In the final part of the Statement the Taliban have outlined a number of measures taken or they are willing to take for prevention of drug trafficking and cultivation, reduction and prevention of civilian casualties, humanitarian assistance to citizens in distress, promoting health and finally women’s rights. The Statement devotes 430 words to how the rebel group has respect and will implement women’s rights in the country.

Quite evidently the Taliban proposals placed in the Moscow Conference held on 07 November denotes substantial challenges in implementing even the preliminary steps such as release of all detainees while the fundamental demands that have been made if accepted will lead to greater instability.

A compromise would be essential for which there will have to be protracted negotiations. Mr Zalmay Khalilzad the US special representative for negotiations has indicated that he has only six months to negotiate a peace agreement.

Given the Preliminary Steps and Fundamental Demands outlined by the Taliban the time may be too short for a reasonable compromise to emerge.

So how the negotiations proceed now remains to be seen?