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The Peace Puzzle

A study of Afghanistan peace process

Mohammad Mahdi ZAKI
Friday 8 March 2019

The peace process in Afghanistan has been ongoing for several years without having made any significant progress. Since 2001, the Afghan government has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at making peace with the Taliban, mostly designed to convince them to give up their military campaign.

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President Hamid Karzai, by initiating the High Peace Council in 2010, offered the Taliban a peace deal, which included the removal of their names from terrorist blacklists, if they renounced ties with the al-Qaeda, abandoned violence, and pursued their political goals in accordance with the Afghanistan Constitution. The Taliban rejected Karzai’s overtures and responded with renewed campaign against the government.

The National Unity Government under Ashraf Ghani made a peace offer to the Taliban that included recognition of the group as a political party, the removal of sanctions, release of prisoners, and a review of the constitution. On 7 June 2018, the Afghan government announced a unilateral weeklong nationwide ceasefire with the Taliban. Two days later, the Taliban responded with a three-day ceasefire.

Further to peace initiatives by Kabul, the US diplomats have also met with the Taliban to discuss reconciliation and peace. These have increased expectations for a peace agreement and possibly an end to a four-decades lasting conflict in Afghanistan. However, both the government and the Taliban remain unclear in their demands at the peace negotiations.

This essay seeks to understand the instances of the parties involved in the Afghan conflict and what they seek from the peace process. In particular, the essay attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What are the sources of conflict in Afghanistan?
  • What is peace according to the Taliban and the Afghan government?
  • What are the challenges to reaching a peace agreement in Afghanistan?

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