Peace deal with Afghan Taliban can have unintended consequences: report

Published May 7, 2019
A peace deal with the Taliban can carry with it the seeds of unintended and unforeseen consequences, warns a US watchdog, in its quarterly report sent to the US Congress recently. — AP/File
A peace deal with the Taliban can carry with it the seeds of unintended and unforeseen consequences, warns a US watchdog, in its quarterly report sent to the US Congress recently. — AP/File

WASHINGTON: A peace deal with the Taliban can carry with it the seeds of unintended and unforeseen consequences, warns a US watchdog, in its quarterly report sent to the US Congress recently.

The office of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), in its quarterly report on the status of reconstruction to Afghanistan to the Congress, notes that while a peace deal with the Taliban could end the war, it could also have long-term unintended consequences.

Read: New round of US-Taliban talks to start in Doha: Taliban

“If Taliban leaders can be persuaded to negotiate with the Afghan government, and if intra-Afghan negotiations can yield a peace agreement, then some four decades of war in Afghanistan — and the United States’ longest war — might come to an end,” states SIGAR in its report. “But no matter how welcome peace would be, it can carry with it the seeds of unintended and unforeseen consequences.”

The report stresses the importance of planning for “the day after” any peace deal in eight areas: security, civil policing, corruption, economic growth, counternarcotics, women’s rights, reintegration of ex-combatants and oversight.

Such “day after” risks “could frustrate the shared goal of a stable Afghanistan”, which respects the rule of law and is “at peace with itself and its neighbours”, the report warns.

Moroever, the “day after” risks, identified in the report, “could threaten US taxpayers’ investment in Afghanistan, set back humanitarian and development programmes, undermine Afghan government support or even lay the grounds for new or resumed discord”, SIGAR warns.

It identifies eight major threats: widespread insecurity, underdeveloped policing, endemic corruption, sluggish economic growth, illicit narcotics trade, threats to women’s rights, reintegration of ex-combatants and restricted oversight.

Peace talks halted for a day

Peace talks between the US and the Taliban were suspended for the beginning of Ramazan on Monday, with the two sides still grappling over the key issue of when foreign forces might leave Afghanistan, according to AFP.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the talks were taking a break for the first day of the holy month of Ramazan but would be resumed on Tuesday.

He said discussions had become bogged down over the issue of when foreign forces might withdraw in return for the Taliban security guarantees.

Sultan Barakat, the director of the Centre for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Doha, also said the talks would resume on Tuesday, and that they had made “good progress”.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2019

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