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Despite a historic peace deal between the United States and the Taliban, there are still doubts whether peace will return to Afghanistan. The war-ravaged nation is on verge of descending into further chaos and anarchy and more importantly whether the fragile peace agreement will even hold.
Violence returned to the country as a powerful blast rocked a political gathering in Kabul on Friday killing around thirty people. Afghan political leader Abdullah Abdullah escaped unharmed in the attack. This was the biggest attack on Afghan civilians in a year and the deadliest since the peace deal was signed last week erasing hopes that Afghans will get peace and normalcy anytime soon.
The Afghan Taliban has denied responsibility for the attack which is blamed on ISIS. The Taliban have also agreed to hold intra-Afghan talks with the government if the prisoner swap is agreed. These talks were supposed to be held on March 10 but President Ashraf Ghani’s reluctance and the spike in violence have caused delays.
A spokesman for Afghan Taliban said that they would not be responsible for any delay in intra-Afghan talks which seek to pave way for a political settlement and the future of a post-war Afghanistan. Ashraf Ghani’s stubbornness has threatened to derail the peace process after he made it clear that he would not release 5000 Taliban prisoners ahead of the dialogue.
This stalemate prompted US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to head to Kabul to remove the obstacles in the peace process. He call on Afghans to rise the occasion and not lose this historic opportunity, and build an inclusive, united and sovereign country. Ghani was reminded the release of prisoners was not just part of the Doha Accord but also the US-Afghan joint statement.
Ghani is not much concerned about the prisoner release but rather over the potential political role of the Taliban. These concerns were echoed by US President Donald Trump who cautioned that the Taliban could possibly overrun the country. He also said that countries should take care of themselves and the US cannot be there anymore to protect Afghanistan.
The US is finally withdrawing its troops and ending the decades-long war in Afghanistan. This is being viewed as a strategic defeat for the US-led forces and the Taliban could seize power which draws rather unpleasant memories over the brutal use of force to implement Islamic law.
Many Afghans are worried and what the peace agreement means for democracy, women’s education and empowerment which has seen progress. This has also created apprehension over what the US-Taliban deal means about the future of Afghanistan under the Taliban rule.