New Delhi: Seeking a closure of the US-Taliban agreement to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan, the United States President Donald Trump hailed progress in negotiations on the peace deal saying that talks between the two countries are going well.
“We’re having very good discussions with the Taliban. We’re having very good discussions with the Afghan government,” said President Trump to reporters in New Jersey adding that the country cannot become “a laboratory for terror”.
The meeting was brought together Trump’s Afghan peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser John Bolton along with the heads of the military and CIA.
After nearly two decades of conflict with Afghanistan, the United States is looking to withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan allowing Trump to claim success in his long-standing goal to bring back nearly 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.
In return, the Taliban is expected to commit to security guarantees, including that they would not allow Afghanistan to become a jihadist safe haven.
In the past year, the US has held several talks in Qatar to formulate a deal with the Islamist hardliners who long harboured Al-Qaeda, but the group has refused to sit with the Afghan government calling it a “puppet” of the US.
Nonetheless, the two countries agreed upon an informal deadline in September to fix the broad outlines of the Afghanistan peace deal.
It must also be noted here that this draft plan leaves several vital areas unhatched, most pressing of all, the uncertainty over governance in Afghanistan once the US leaves laying down its arms.
Meanwhile, a top American scholar condemned the idea amid increased India-Pak tension on Kashmir, given that Pakistan sees a friendly government in Kabul as vital to its security and competition with arch-rival India.
He claimed that that the process is reminiscent of Vietnam, where a 1973 agreement between the US and North Vietnam provided a pretext for American withdrawal from the South but not a basis for peace.
“Instead of embracing fantasy, the US should continue to keep a modest number of troops in Afghanistan to ensure the government survives and the country does not again become a terrorist haven,” he said and added, “What is required is an endurance strategy, not an exit strategy, based on local conditions, not political calendars.”