A breakthrough, historic one indeed, came on Thursday when both sides into the Afghan conflict confirmed the intra-Afghan talks would be launched on Saturday (today). The issue holding back the landmark talks was the release of the remaining six controversial inmates of the Taliban but they were said to have been shifted to Doha and thus the way paved for the peace talks. In the run-up to this milestone, Afghanistan has been witnessed to a spike in the trend of targeted killings, most likely perpetrated by the spoilers of peace, aimed at sabotaging the peace process. However, neither the Taliban nor any other militant or terrorist group claims credit for them. Now, the question is who would indulge in such nasty designs and who benefits the most if those designs are successful?
Last month, a kill list supposedly associated with the Taliban was on social media and contained the names of some key peace activists, politicians, government opposition figures, political experts and some media activists who are working for peace in the country. The Taliban, however, vehemently denied having to do anything with it. Meanwhile, there was also an assassination attempt on Fawzia Kofi, a member of the government negotiating team, last month – again carried out by unidentified gunmen. In the latest incident, the motorcade of First VP Amrullah Saleh, who escaped unscathed, was hit by a roadside bomb on Wednesday that left 10 civilians killed and over 30 bystanders injured. Similarly, through our Afghan Peace Watch (APW)’s Riv-monitoring initiative, we have been recently documenting cases of assassinations almost every single day.
One thing is crystal clear that these spoilers and ‘ghost attackers’ are obviously attempting to disrupt the historic opportunity for peace made available in Afghanistan. The increased violence, coupled with the fact that every nook and cranny of Afghanistan has turned into active war zones, provides a conducive environment for such spoilers and proxies to achieve their goals – which are none other than undermining peace and aggravating acrimony and distrust among the sides, given the progress made so far in the peace process. Although there had been targeted assassinations in the past, the recent hike resembles the desperateness of the enemies and spoilers of peace. The warring sides should exercise extreme caution now that they are going to sit across each other for peace talks. They should understand that the delay so far in the process was the reason that emboldened the spoilers further. Hence, they are well-advised to avoid playing into the hands of enemies and try to recognize their nefarious plots which are meant to throw a spanner in the works of the negotiations. The sooner they strike a deal and make valid compromises, the better it is to avoid derailing from the course. A deliberate – yet without any inordinate delays – peace deal would ease the situation for both the sides, as well as Afghan ordinary masses, who remain to be collateral damage of the continuing war.