Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan
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Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan

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Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan 

Why in News?

  • US and Taliban have signed a historic agreement- “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”- in Doha, Qatar. 
  • It outlines a series of commitments from the US and the Taliban related to troop levels, counterterrorism, and the intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at bringing about “a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.” 
    • The agreement could pave the way to ending America’s longest-fought war.

    Highlights of the agreement:

    Military troops withdrawal: It lays out a 14-month timetable for the withdrawal of “all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel.”

    Release of prisoners: The agreement also calls for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 “prisoners of the other side” on the first day of intra-Afghan negotiations. The relevant sides have the goal of releasing all the remaining prisoners over the course of the subsequent three months.

    What the Taliban will do?

    1. Taliban will take steps “to prevent any group or individual, including al-Qaeda, from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.”
    2. Those steps include commitments that the Taliban will instruct its members “not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies”.
    3. It “will also prevent any group or   individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies, and will prevent them from recruiting, training, and fundraising and will not host them following the commitments in this agreement.”

      Background:

      The US has been at war in Afghanistan since 2001. This agreement in Doha came after more than a year of on and off negotiations with the militant group. The two sides had reached “an agreement in principle” in early September 2019.

      Challenges ahead:

      • The Afghan government has been completely sidelined during the talks between the US and the Taliban. The future for the people of Afghanistan is uncertain and will depend on how the Taliban honors its commitments and whether it goes back to the medieval practices of its 1996-2001 regime.
      • Much will depend on whether the US and the Taliban can keep their ends of the bargain, and every step forward will be negotiated, and how the Afghan government and the political spectrum are involved.
      • Concerns here for India:

        Is India an ally?

        In the Doha agreement, the Taliban has guaranteed “enforcement mechanisms that will prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies”. However, it is unclear whether India, which is not a U.S. ally, is included in this definition, and whether Pakistan-backed groups that threaten India would still operate in Afghanistan.

        Impact of prisoner release and lifting sanctions:

        India is also most worried about the “mainstreaming of the Haqqani network”, which Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists reportedly fight alongside and were responsible for the 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul. The release of prisoners would be a boost for these terror groups.

        1. Threats from Pakistan:
        The U.S. has committed to taking Taliban leaders of the UN Security Council sanctions list by May 29, 2020, which could considerably bring down the number of terrorists Pakistan is accused of harboring, according to the FATF greylist conditions.
        1. Recognition to the Taliban:

        As per the agreement, the US appears to have submitted to the possibility of a Taliban-led government, by extracting promises that the Taliban will not provide “visas, passports, travel documents or asylum” to those threatening the U.S. and its allies. This appears to sideline India’s support for the election process for leadership in Afghanistan.

      • India and the Taliban:

        India and the Taliban have had a bitter past. New Delhi nurses bitter memories from the IC-814 hijack in 1999, when it had to release terrorists — including Maulana Masood Azhar who founded Jaish-e-Mohammed that went on to carry out terror attacks on Parliament (2001), in Pathankot (2016) and Pulwama (2019).

      • The Taliban perceived India as a hostile country, as India had supported the anti-Taliban force Northern Alliance in the 1990s.

        India never gave diplomatic and official recognition to the Taliban when it was in power during 1996-2001.