U.S-Taliban Peace Talks
Jan. 29, 2019

The U.S has declared that the American and Taliban officials have agreed in principle to Afghan peace framework.


Background on talks with Taliban

  • The decision to talk to the Taliban was taken nine years ago during President Obama’s tenure.

  • The Doha office (in Qatar) of the Taliban was established for negotiations but there weren’t any concluding talks.

  • By the middle of 2018, the U.S started pushing for direct talks with the Taliban urgently (in line with President Trump's agenda to withdraw troops from Afghanistan).

  • There have been four rounds of talks during 2018. 

  • After the latest round of talks with the Taliban delegation in Doha, the U.S Special Envoy to Kabul has declared that U.S and Taliban have agreed on a “framework” for a peace agreement.


Details of the draft framework:

  • Taliban has agreed on committing to not allow terrorists like Al- Qaida and Islamic state to use Afghan territory to carry out attacks on the U.S and its allies.

  • U.S has agreed to pull out troops from Afghanistan on condition of direct talks between Taliban and Afghan Government as well as a ceasefire. However, the Taliban delegation has asked for some time to decide on it.


Significance of the framework:

  • A tangible step forward:Realizing a draft peace deal after nine years of efforts is the biggest tangible step toward ending the two-decade war.

  • Preventing the use of Afghanistan for terrorism: A long pending demand by U.S.A is the Taliban agreeing to prevent use of Afghan territory by terrorist groups is a major step towards stabilizing peace.

  • Primacy of the US:With the declaration of near agreement, the U.S has moved ahead of Russia in its effort to find a resolution in Afghanistan involving other regional players like Iran and China.

Concerns remain:

  • Direct talks: The U.S. offered agreeing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan only on the condition that Taliban enters direct talks with Afghanistan government and agrees to a permanent ceasefire, which could create trouble in finalizing the deal.

  • Final deal still some way away:This is just a framework and technicalities have to be worked out, and until the deal is finally agreed upon, draft matters little.

  • Presidential election in Afghanistan: The presidential elections are due in July and the actual impact of the deal on elections is unclear.


Impact of this Peace talk on India

  • India has over the past 17 years helped and supported the Government from the behind without getting too involved with the ground reality.

  • Afghanistan has been one of the biggest receivers of aid from India. India had worked in the areas of humanitarian assistance, infrastructure development, civilian reconstruction efforts and community development projects which have generated enough goodwill for India among the Afghans. It is for this reason India’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan is called ‘Goodwill Diplomacy ‘.

  • Most of the developments that India has rendered have been mostly in and around Kabul, thereby concentrating only on the requirements of the Government.

  • India has worked in Afghanistan with two primary objectives:
    1. Helping Afghanistan to be self reliant and countering Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan. With this approach, India never wanted the Taliban to have a part in the Government.

    2. Reduce Pakistan’s ability to run terror groups in Afghanistan against India with the influence of Islam.

  • India preferred to have its relations only with Kabul and did not adopt a holistic development approach for the entire country.

  • This is likely to have an impact with India’s intended interest towards Afghanistan, when the Taliban gets to have a say in the Government.

  • India has to be prepared to accept that it’s investments- economically, politically and socially are likely to yield limited outcome.

  • With the Taliban gaining legitimacy by controlling over 60 % of the landmass of Afghanistan, India will have no better approach than to engage with the Taliban.