Roadmap a Must for Peace Negotiating Team
The second round of peace talks between the government and the Taliban will take place in nine days, on January 5, 2021. Qatar is hosting the talks this time as well. This is the second most important round of peace talks. Rather, as the delegations of the two sides are scheduled to discuss key issues related to peace in this round, this makes it even more important than the first round of negotiations.
Ten days before the second round of peace talks, the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council, chaired by Abdullah Abdullah, held its second meeting. A number of political party leaders, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Salahuddin Rabbani and Mohammad Karim Khalili, were absent from the meeting. Although Abdul Rashid Dostum, Atta Mohammad Noor and Ismail Khan, leaders of former jihadi parties and commanders, were not present at the second meeting of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council, but their statements were read out by their representatives. In addition to the absence of these figures, the presence of representatives of civil society, the media, women and youth in this meeting was very weak and they were not even given the opportunity to speak from the podium. At the same time, those who did speak at the meeting did not have a new plan and did not say anything new.
Unfortunately, the final list of the official members of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council is yet to be finalized. For this reason, it is somewhat difficult to critique this committee in terms of composition and structure. However, the absence of several party leaders and political figures in the first and second meetings of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council is the one of this committee’s most serious weaknesses, coupled with the fact that the voices of civil society organizations, media, women and youth were not very prominent in both meetings. However, it is hoped that these weaknesses will be addressed in future meetings of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council, which will be better able to properly represent all socio-political strata of society.
Apart from the flaws and shortcomings that can be seen in the presentation of the meetings of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council, there have been other serious shortcomings as well. One of these drawbacks is the lack of a topic or agenda for these meetings. Although the meeting on December 5 was a preliminary one, this problem should not have been repeated at the meeting on December 26. It is the job of the Secretariat of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council to prepare a topic or agenda before each meeting. The secretariat must prepare the topics discussed at each meeting in advance and provide them to the members at least one day before the meeting. Unfortunately, at the meeting on December 26, it was observed that there was no agenda for this meeting. The participants also repeated their previous speeches from the December 5 meeting. It is therefore hardly surprising when unsatisfactory sessions like these do not produce the desired result.
The leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council is in charge of leading and managing the peace process, in accordance with the political agreement of May 17. The committee should develop and oversee the implementation of the government’s peace plan with the Taliban and the Afghan negotiating team guidelines for negotiating with the group. Given that the peace talks are set to enter their most important stage in nine days, it is dismaying that there is no written plan for peace and no negotiating guidelines have been set for the government’s negotiating team.
Negotiating with the Taliban to end the current war requires knowledge of the rules of principled negotiation. This negotiation does not lead to the desired outcome by resorting to the pre-modern methods of involving a few landlords to resolve socio-political disputes. Unfortunately, the meetings of the leadership committee of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council on December 5 and 26 were like the meetings of several landlords to settle a small dispute between two conflicting families. In these meetings, only the goodness of peace and the evil of war were discussed, without any talk of how to achieve peace and get rid of war. Peace is not achieved by advice. War does not end with condemnation of the warring parties. Planning must be done to end war and achieve peace. There must be a clear plan and guidelines. The government’s negotiating team can only be successful if it enters into negotiations with the Taliban with a clear plan and clear guidelines, which are the responsibility of the committee. Otherwise, the delegation will not achieve the desired results in its negotiations with the Taliban.