Russia hosted a regional conference on Afghanistan to re-frame the reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan Government. The representatives from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, United States of America and India were also present in a single room.With this effort Russia has sent a clear message that it is back in the game in Afghanistan even after the fall of the USSR.
Taliban Reconciliation Process
The idea of reconciliation with the Taliban has been on the table since over a decade. The Taliban insurgency grew 2005 onward, the western forces fought it but soon found side deals with local Taliban commanders and ignored to opium production in the area. The USA with the help of the Germans and the Norwegians, they began to think for reconciliation. But the major breakthrough happened after US elections in 2008. President Barack Obama ordered a full-scale review of the U.S.’s Afghanistan policy after coming to power.
Operation Enduring Freedom that began after the 9/11 incident formally came to an end in December 2014, with the handing over of primary responsibility for combat operations to the Afghan security forces even when the Taliban insurgency was gaining ground. Individuals like Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistans Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif,and Russian officials became new players in the matter. Russia had publicly acknowledged that it had communication channels with the Taliban for the exchange of information and have a shared interest with the Taliban to counter the threat posed by the ISIS.A new initiative named Quadrilateral Coordination Group with having the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan began in January 2016. Then after there was a road-map agreed upon with Pakistan to use its influence to get the Taliban on to the negotiating table. In the ,meanwhile Afghan President Ashraf Ghani launched the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation and also made an unconditional dialogue offer to the Taliban forces.
Taliban still continues to expand. Even today the Afghan government have control over less than half the country, while rest is under Taliban control. Armed forces casualties is happening regularly on both the sides. U.S. President Donald Trump has recently withdrawn the talks in the wake of recent attacks.
However, India has supported an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process without the influence of other forces. India continues to help Afghanistan though its soft powers initiative by building infrastructure nad promoting sports particularity cricket.