March 19, 2019

Afghanistan, a fragile undertaking in a post-conflict peacebuilding

By H.E. Dr. M. Homayoon AziziAmbassador of Afghanistan in The Netherlands. Permanent representative of Afghanistan to OPCW

Decades after it became a high-profile topic for the national and international dialogue agenda, post-conflict peacebuilding remains a fragile undertaking with mixed results. While there is little doubt that peacebuilding will continue to require international attention, the lessons of the last decades do not add up to a successful record.

Peacebuilding is a Multi-Dimensional Enterprise with Several Pillars: While various actors define these pillars differently, there is consensus that peacebuilding has political, social, economic, security and legal dimensions, each of which requires attention. Distinguishing it from conventional development, peacebuilding is understood to be a highly political project involving the creation of a legitimate political authority that can avoid the resurgence of violence.

Afghanistan and the protracted war the nation is suffering for last four decades is a unique case in which root causes of the problem could be sought beyond its geographical and political borders. One cannot ignore or deny the role of regional and international role players in the historical tragedy and recent development in Afghanistan. Our geopolitical location which could have been a strength, unfortunately, has caused the country to become a playground of potential powers in the region and beyond seeking or protecting their strategic interests and lack of a powerful and legitimate government in the country has made us fail to seek and protect our own interest.

Speaking on behalf of my nation and Government, tragedy is a daily occurrence in our lives. Each week, we lose on average one hundred Afghans, from all walks of life. The scale of violence inflicted on us is dramatic.

A true sense of urgency for peace, on the one hand, requires clarity of strategic focus, reasoned discourse, calmness and deliberation. On the other hand, the daily pain and suffering inflicted upon our people and our institutions, capabilities and capitals, is intense, relentless, and horrific.

Unspeakable crimes are being committed against the Afghan people. What is being practiced against our society and people is best characterized as unrestrained war— there is not a single sphere of our life that has not been attacked. Public streets, hospitals, mosques, universities, places of business, sports centers, schools.

How have Afghans reacted to this tragedy? With despair and hopelessness? No, instead, with powerful conviction and a true sense of urgency to seek an enduring and inclusive peace. Not the formal type of peace that comes from signing a piece of paper, but the material and substantial type of peace that will enable us to address the deep roots of our inherited problems from four decades of conflict.

Let me differentiate between a false sense of urgency and a true sense of urgency. False urgency consists of hurried actions without direction, often organized around political timelines, boxes ticked without coherence—this is a dangerous and superficial path to shallow and short-term peace that we must steer clear of.

A true sense of urgency means we are laser-focused on what lasting peace requires. True urgency allows us to focus on the critical issues, to define and own our problems, and to draw on our past and the experiences of other societies. It requires careful consideration of each aspect of peace-making, but also the courage to consider and take risks and the assumption of responsibility for leading peace efforts.

 Layers for Studying in Peace in Afghanistan:

1. National and subnational actors:

  • Taliban and its affiliated groups
  • Political parties and figures
  • The Afghanistan Government,

2. Regional actors: there are some factors which link the regional actors with the national and subnational actors:

  • The concept of power shows, when there is a weakness in a country, so the Strong’s interest will increase toward the weak country.
  • Strong stakeholders will compete in weak, fragile and failed states.

3. International actors: looking to have an average perspective, which considering regional and national actors’ interests and consensus.

With the above analyses, there are at least three scenarios for peace of Afghanistan:

The government of Afghanistan is driven by a sense of true urgency for peace in our society. We have had this for years now, and we have already laid some critical groundwork for sustainable peace over the past five years.

We sought a peace agreement in which the Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society, respecting the following tenets:

1. The Constitutional rights and obligations, of all citizens, especially women, are ensured.

2. The Constitution is accepted, or amendments proposed through the constitutional provision.

3. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and civil service function according to law.

4. Armed groups with ties to transnational terrorist networks or transnational criminal organizations, or with ties to state/non-state actors, seeking influence in Afghanistan will be excluded from the political process.

The prerequisite for achieving these end goals is state centric – Afghan Led, Afghan owned peace talks process and clearly requires a sovereign and independent Afghanistan. We must not sacrifice sustainable peace to achieve short-term objectives, which would ultimately result in a renewal of old conflicts.

This is unrestrained warfare. Its ever-changing character is driven by four dimensions:

1. Trans-national terrorist networks have targeted us since the hijacking of our country by Al-Qaeda in the 1990s.

2. Transnational criminal organizations are the second drivers of conflict

3. The third dimension is the failure of some neighboring countries – and one in particular – to fulfill all their obligations under UN conventions against terrorism

4. The Afghan Taliban are the fourth driver of conflict.

In such a context as we work together with our regional and international allies in this pursuit of lasting peace, we must not repeat the experience of 1992, where instead of stability and security, we were engulfed in massive conflict resulting in the destruction of our human, social and economic capital. Afghans may not become refugees again.

We should not allow the gains to be lost through lack of focus and hotheadedness. We are determined to have clarity of vision, focused direction, and deliberate action to voice, represent and safeguard the sacrifices of our national defense and security forces and deliver on the hopes and aspirations of our people.

 In any conflict resolution and peace building process, engagement of all parties/stakeholders are imperative to assure their interests are met and the outcome of the process is acceptable for them,

The current peacebuilding efforts in Afghanistan is led under three scenarios,

1. The Qatar Process

2. Moscow Peace Dialogue

3. Iranian Efforts

Given the similar experience of false sense of urgency for peace and reconciliations in the1990s chaotic resulting in destruction of all infrastructures, 5 million refugees and more than 65000 Afghans killed only in Kabul,

We believe that the above three mentioned scenarios are copies of the failed efforts experienced in 1990s, and different involved parties are seeking their own interests and acting in silos for a peace agreement with one side of the game while having no guarantee for ensuring the rights of Afghan women and men and our shared achievements of the last two decades.

The Afghan Government believes that the only solution for the ongoing challenge is a State Led, Afghan owned peacebuilding process while taking account not only the wills of Afghan women and men, but also the interests of all our regional and international partners to ensure a long-lasting peaceful relationship with our partners.

In light this wisdom, we clearly see that the ongoing efforts are not in line with the Afghan Government policy as we have not been party in the negotiations in Qatar and Moscow until now.

I hope and pray that we will be able to deliver on our vision of peace and the program necessary to make sure that it will be a credible and lasting peace.

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