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Kashmir: Pakistan and India mutually expel diplomats

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As it is known, Kashmir is the chief cause of tensions between heavily armed and nuclearized South Asian nations India and Pakistan, joint occupiers, along with veto power China, of Jammu Kashmir.

China has taken a part of Azad Kashmir from Pakistani possession most probably on payment basis and does not ask for more lands from India which is eager to mend ways with Asian superpower so that Pakistan stands isolated internationally without any big supporter to question Indian action against Pakistan.

Since the world powers and UNSC have refused to end genocides in Kashmir perpetrated by Indian forces that enjoy special military powers gifted by the fanatic regime, Kashmir Muslim continue to die, falling victim to modern colonialism religiously promoted by India with blessing form USA and Russia. That is indeed Himalayan shame.

It looks the South Asian nuclear giants are bent upon showcasing their prowess by engaging themselves in regular mutual clashes in order only to terrorize the Kashmiris besieged between them and find vital space in international media and forums. They have been successful.

Interestingly, both sides typically refute the other’s version of events. New Delhi protested against the alleged mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier by an attacker who escaped across the Line of Control after “committing this heinous crime”. The press wing of the Pakistani military said India had committed 178 cease-fire violations this year, killing 19 civilians and injuring 80 more.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads since a group of gunmen killed 19 Indian soldiers in September at an army camp in Kashmir, an attack India blamed on Pakistan-based militants. India said it had sent special commandos into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to kill militants in a retaliatory operation that sharply soured relations between the neighbors. Pakistan says the operation never happened and accuses India of inventing it to distract attention from its crackdown on protests in the part of Kashmir it controls.

Cross fires, meant to make Kashmiris feel vulnerable, followed by cease-fire violations have been dominating the bilateral relations for years now with very little cross border trade taking place between them.

The countries’ heavily militarized frontier has been tense since, as their armed forces have frequently exchanged cross-border fire. Artillery duels and skirmishing along the disputed frontier that runs through Kashmir have escalated in recent days, leading India to summon the Pakistani deputy high commissioner to express its “grave concern and strong protest”. In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs accused Pakistan of violations of a 2003 ceasefire that have caused several fatalities and injuries among its civilians and security forces.

After initial overtures between the two prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Narendra Modi of India, relations continued to sour as ceasefire violations along the Kashmir border increased. But the two nuclear-armed neighbours have a long history of diplomatic spats but rarely have they publicly disclosed the identity of each other’s mission officials in the past.

India called off normalization talks with Pakistan in August 2014 just because the Pakistani high commissioner in Delhi feted pro-Pakistan freedom leaders from India occupied Jammu Kashmir. A year later, Pakistan called off a meeting of the two national security advisers in Delhi as war of words broke out between them. Soon afterwards, Pakistan replaced its civilian national security adviser with a retired army officer.

Diplomatic and military relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated for weeks after a militant attack on an Indian army base in September that New Delhi blamed on Islamabad. In response to last month’s assault on an army base, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed, the Indian army launched what it called surgical strikes on militants in territory controlled by Pakistan. Islamabad rejected India’s claims, saying Indian troops didn’t cross over to its side. India said it had carried out “surgical strikes” inside Pakistan as retribution, but Islamabad denied they even took place and accused New Delhi of fabrication to distract attention from its crackdown on the protests in the part of Kashmir it controls.

Diplomatic personnel and ambassadors have immunity to do whatever they want in foreign countries as their “right and privilege” but occasionally when one country wants to showcase its “specialty” to the world, it expels some diplomats on the famous espionage charges as if they are not supposed to do them.

Occasionally mutual expulsion of diplomats characterizes the level of their anger at a given point. Recently India and Pakistan announced they would each expel one of the other’s diplomats amid growing tension between the nuclear-armed arch-foes over the disputed region of Kashmir.

India expelled a Pakistani diplomat based in New Delhi who allegedly ran a spy ring that collected sensitive information about Indian security operations along its border. Soon Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it had declared an Indian diplomat, Surjeet Singh, persona non grata and given him 48 hours to leave the country. That is in response to Indian action insulting its Pakistani “guests”. Police in New Delhi said the Pakistani diplomat was detained on Wednesday outside the gates to Delhi Zoo, where he had met two Indian associates whom police believe he had recruited to spy for him. That is well written usual story. Police accused the Pakistani official, Mahmood Akhtar, of illegally collecting information about India’s security operations on the countries’ tense border.

India accused a Pakistani diplomat of spying and ordered him to leave the country, prompting Islamabad to expel an Indian official in retaliation, as relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors continued to sour. Police in New Delhi accused the Pakistani official, Mahmood Akhtar, of illegally collecting information about India’s security operations on the countries’ tense border. He was declared persona non grata for alleged “espionage activities,” India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Akhtar must leave India by next day, authorities said. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “false and unsubstantiated” and condemned what it called “the detention and manhandling” of the official.

Later as expected, Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced it had declared Singh persona non grata and informed the Indian High Commission he had until Saturday to leave the country. The statement said Singh was accused of activities “that were in violation of the Vienna Convention and the established diplomatic norms” but did not elaborate.

An aide to India’s prime minister in New Delhi said the government was looking into the matter. India’s external affairs ministry spokesman was not immediately available for comment. Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi rejected the allegations, saying in a statement it “never engages in any activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status”. Its Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Surjeet Singh was involved in activities that violated diplomatic norms, but didn’t provide any further details of his alleged missteps.

In an apparent tit-for-tat move, Pakistan announced the expulsion of an official at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Its Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Surjeet Singh was involved in activities that violated diplomatic norms, but didn’t provide any further details of his alleged missteps. Indian police said that Akhtar, who worked as an assistant to Pakistan’s trade counselor in the embassy in New Delhi, had been recruiting Indian informants for 18 months and obtained from them details about the deployment of security forces on the border, including maps and staffing lists.

As planned, Akhtar was detained on October 26 at a New Delhi zoo where he was collecting sensitive documents pertaining to national security from two of his Indian associates, said India’s Foreign Ministry. Akhtar—a former Pakistani soldier who reported to the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, police said—was taken to a police station for questioning and later released after he invoked diplomatic immunity. Police said they arrested the two Indian men, who they claimed were part of Akhtar’s network. One is a teacher in the border state of Rajasthan and the other is a businessman, said a senior Indian police official, who declined to provide details on how these men allegedly obtained sensitive documents and information.

The latest diplomatic incident has further strained ties that have grown increasingly fraught over national-security issues. India accuses Pakistan of providing training and logistical support to militants who cross the border into India to carry out attacks. Islamabad denies the allegations.

When Pakistan decided to expel two alleged Indian RAW agents from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, in the guise of diplomats are running a terror unit in Pakistan. They include Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri and Baleer Singh. They are working as Commercial Counselor and Press Information Secretary respectively. The diplomats have been found to be involved in activities to destabilize Pakistan by facilitating and funding terrorism,” sources revealed to the media outlet. According to sources, Indian diplomatic official Surjeet Singh who was recently expelled by Pakistan was also part of the network.

In response to last month’s assault on an army base in Uri in occupied Kashmir, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed, the Indian army launched what it called surgical strikes on militants in Kashmir territory controlled by Pakistan. Islamabad rejected India’s claims, saying Indian troops didn’t cross over to its side. The countries’ heavily militarized frontier has been tense since, as their armed forces have frequently exchanged cross-border fire.

Akhtar—a former Pakistani soldier who reported to the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, police said—was taken to a police station for questioning and later released after he invoked diplomatic immunity. Indian police said that Akhtar, who worked as an assistant to Pakistan’s trade counselor in the embassy in New Delhi, had been recruiting Indian informants for 18 months and obtained from them details about the deployment of security forces on the border, including maps and staffing lists.

Police said they arrested the two Indians, who they claimed were part of Akhtar’s network. One is a teacher in a mosque in the border state of Rajasthan and the other is a struggling businessman, said a senior Indian police official, who declined to provide details on how these men allegedly obtained sensitive documents and information.

The expulsion of Akhtar takes place as New Delhi seeks consular access to an Indian man, Kulbhushan Yadav, whom Pakistan arrested seven months ago, claiming he is an Indian naval officer and a spy trying to destabilize parts of the country. New Delhi has denied that Yadav was working for the Indian government. India’s Foreign Ministry said he had retired from the Navy and ran a business in Iran, from where he may have been abducted. Pakistan has denied Indian requests for consular access to Yadav, who hasn’t been charged.

Without questioning the logic of allowing special immunity guarantees to foreign embassy personnel, India just accused a Pakistani diplomat of spying and ordered him to leave the country, prompting Islamabad to expel an Indian official in retaliation, as relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors continued to sour. Also without criticizing the rule of immunity harming national interests, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “false and unsubstantiated” and condemned what it called “the detention and manhandling” of the official. In an apparent tit-for-tat move, Pakistan announced the expulsion of an official at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

India accuses Pakistan of providing training and logistical support to militants who cross the border into India to carry out attacks. Islamabad denies the allegations. India says that there was high probability that the information passed on by these “anti-national elements” to PIO (Pakistan intelligence operative) is being used against the national interests and could be highly detrimental for national security, adding they had been trying to break the spy ring for six months.

Observation and solution

One is not sure Indian action followed refusal by the Pakistani official to give visa to any anti-Pakistani persons. That action would have offended New Delhi had its agents were denied Pakistani visa. The Pakistani diplomat, who reportedly worked in Pakistan High Commission’s visa section, and his alleged Indian accomplices were found with forged documents, defense-related maps, deployment charts and lists of officers working along India’s border with Pakistan, Indian police said in a statement.

One is not sure Indian action followed refusal by the Pakistani official to give visa to any ant–Pakistani persons. That action would have offended New Delhi had its agents were denied Pakistani visa. The Pakistani diplomat, who reportedly worked in Pakistan High Commission’s visa section, and his alleged Indian accomplices were found with forged documents, defense-related maps, deployment charts and lists of officers working along India’s border with Pakistan, Indian police said in a statement.

In response to last month’s assault on an army base, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed, the Indian army launched what it called surgical strikes on militants in territory controlled by Pakistan. Islamabad rejected India’s claims, saying Indian troops didn’t cross over to its side. The countries’ heavily militarized frontier has been tense since, as their armed forces have frequently exchanged cross-border fire.

The diplomatic spat over suspicion of espionage comes after months of sharply deteriorating relations that began with civil unrest in Indian-controlled Kashmir and Pakistan’s global lobbying against New Delhi’s crackdown on the Kashmiri activists.

Indian and Pakistani troops face off against each other along the de facto border in divided Kashmir – a region they both claim in full but control in part – and have exchanged fire several times this week in cross-border shelling. Vikas Swarup, spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said six Pakistani diplomats have already left the Indian capital but said they had not been expelled. Pakistan declined to comment on the matter ahead of a planned news conference, while India said the identity of eight of its diplomats had been revealed by Pakistani media. Pakistan has expelled six Indian diplomats for espionage and has revealed their names, local media said on Wednesday, a move sure to exacerbate a rift between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours that has been widening for months.

As a usual profitable strategy, India accuses Pakistan of providing training and logistical support to militants who cross the border into India to carry out attacks. Islamabad denies the allegations. India accused a Pakistani diplomat of spying and ordered him to leave the country, prompting Islamabad to expel an Indian official in retaliation, as relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors continued to sour. The latest diplomatic incident has further strained ties that have grown increasingly fraught over national-security issues.

Obviously, the special privileges like immunity have been exploited by countries through their respective embassies to conduct espionage and divisive operations against the host country. Though such activities re immoral and illegal, the immunity the personnel possess enable them to undertake such heinous acts of treason. Counties like USA, UK and Russia do this more than the rest but their veto on UN saves them from any punitive measures by the affected nations that are helpless and vulnerable. Therefore, if countries wish to have genuine diplomatic work in other countries must seek to do away with immunity right and push for ending the veto status for some countries against the weak one.

Otherwise there is no point in complaining and expelling diplomatic personnel for doing what they are expected by their governments to do abroad, expecting retaliatory explosion from the affected ones. India and Pakistan also must join hands to do away with immunity and veto system on UN.

It is a fact, that Pakistani sad preachment has been caused directly by its neighbor India wanting a free say in controlling Jammu Kashmir, committing genocides as freely as jungle beasts. In fact, Pakistan got panic when India manufactured nukes with Russian help and would certainly bullied Islamabad posing itself as the boss of the region, even if would not have used them against Pakistan. As Pakistani regime spent most of its resources for military apparatus in order to defend itself from any possible Indian attacks it has little resources left for spending on poor and sports. That is exactly what Indian stalwarts wanted so that India could advance it interest, both legal and illegal, to make itself strong. It has achieved that while Pakistan has become an empty nation, bullied by every third rate nation – eventually getting nuclear facility to equate Indian threat. Indian fanatics keep pushing the government to attack Pakistani and force it to sub-serve Indian interests. Anti-Islamic forces, led by USA and India, conspired to destabilize Pakistan in order to promote Indian interests.

Nukes are as good as dead as they could only be the deterrents and cannot be eaten or used but most of its resources Pakistan has wasted on them. Apart from nukes Pakistan has developed very little. Now China is developing parts of Pakistan as part of One Road, One belt theme to showcase its economic military power. USA and China alternatively exploit Pakistan.

Now Pakistan must forget about paper tiger called India and begin planning for the overall development of the nation as a truly Islamic country to make the youth strong enough to face the challenges of the modern world in all domains, including sports- forget about the bogus sport known as cricket which does not let Pakistan focus n real sports and economy. In sports Pakistani players must shed the usual hesitation, unwillingness and fear and face the opponents with focus as Indians face Muslims in any sport but also dedication.

In view of the crude fact that UN is impotent, the best solution to the mutual hatred and tensions between these neighbors is to surrender Jammu Kashmir to Kashmiris and pay for the loss of lives and destruction of property in Kashmir.

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South Asia

Breaking Down the South Asian Dynamic: Post Pulwama attack & Saudi Prince’s visit

Uzge A. Saleem

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The political and strategic activities of the South Asian region have been on a high for the past week or so. The region faced a very unfortunate incident on 14th February, 2019 when 40 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack in Pulwama, India. The already torn region of Kashmir faced yet another blow and has been in turmoil since the attack. The 14th February attack somehow translated into more violence against the innocent civilians of Kashmir. Not only Kashmir but other cities of India have also been actively involved in hate crimes against Muslims, particularly Kashmiri students. BBC news reported the violence against students from Kashmir in various universities across the country and how they were being thrown out of their residences.

The attack has been condemned by all alike, however, the Indian nation has assumed Pakistan to be behind the attack. The Prime Minister Nirendra Modi has given his two cents on the matter and his words seem to be clearly motivated by his desire to cash this unfortunate incident for a win in the upcoming Indian general elections. India’s highest Diplomat in Pakistan has also been called back and the action has been reciprocated by Pakistan as well. As we break down the current rush of hostilities between the two nuclear neighbors there are mainly two theories revolving around. The Indian theory is short and bitter, it claims Pakistan is responsible because it is an irresponsible state that provides safe havens to terrorists. The group linked to this attack has also been declared close to Pakistan’s agencies on many occasions. The theory is evidently childish and sounds like it is being repeated for the 100th time with no solid proof or credible information yet again. The mere allegations have brought no good but unfortunately India’s higher names are set on fueling the age old fire for their petty gains.

We have a theory from Pakistan’s side as well. Although it is not an official theory nor has it been discussed by any of the higher leaderships publicly but it is nonetheless doing the rounds in the policy circles. It claims Indian officials themselves were involved in not only the Pulwama attack but the less spoken of, Iran attack as well. Both the attack were significantly close to Pakistan’s Eastern and Western borders. This is something the state of Pakistan would not bring upon itself at such a crucial time when the security situation of the state was desired to be at its best for the arrival of the Saudi crown prince, Muhammad Bin Salman. The visit was not only a remarkably significant diplomatic achievement for Pakistan but was also very significant for the South Asian region and Muslim countries around the globe. In times like this when the state of Pakistan was consumed in making preparations for the arrival of the Prince it would be a rather immature strategic move to involve itself in something so disastrous and fragile at the same time. However, some believe Indian officials planned this to create unrest in the region as an attempt to halt the Prince’s visit.

The visit, however, took place anyway and was a rather successful one. Not only were MoU’s signed between the leadership of Pakistan and the Royalty of Saudi Arabia but mechanisms to implement the MoU’s were also chalked out. The spontaneous release of 2107 Pakistani prisoners from Saudi prisons n the request of Pakistan’s prime minister was a clear show of the blooming Saudi-Pak relations. It not only took the friendship and trust between the two nations to new heights but created a new sense of love and respect for the Prince amongst the general public of Pakistan which has not been seen so evidently before. The prince being awarded with the highest civil award of Pakistan marks the utmost success of the visit which did not settle well with many of the self-proclaimed key players of the region.

The prince has plans to visit India as well where it is expected that peace between India and Pakistan would be suggested as a key desire. It can also be expected that India’s leadership would take this opportunity to trade peace in return of other favors from the Saudi delegation. Regardless of the absurd reaction from the neighboring country, Pakistan has remained calm and acted with utmost maturity during the entire blame game. Regardless of knowing very well how capable the Pakistani army is, the state has made no loose remarks and has also recorded its reservations against India’s escalating remarks in a letter penned down by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan to the General Secretary of the United Nations. Pakistan always has, still does and always will promote peace and prosperity in the region.

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The Pulwama Attack and India’s rhetoric

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The Attack which occurred in the Pulwama District of Jammu and Kasmir was indeed a horrific event. The attack took place on India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The suicide bomber triggered the car bomb while 78 vehicles with over 2,500 CRPF men were on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway. Pakistan’s Foreign Office was quick to condemn this unfortunate event. According to the statement released the attack occurring in Pulwama District was a matter of grave concern.

India was however very quick at pointing fingers towards Pakistan. Within an hour or so of the incident, while even the basic on-site investigations weren’t completed, India blamed Pakistan for the Pulwama Attack. Pakistan’s Foreign Office rejected any claim linking the attack to Pakistan without proper investigations. The Pulwama attack no doubt is a tragedy, but the way the attack unfolded and India’s knee-jerk reaction has raised quite a lot of doubts and questions in Pakistan, India as well as the international community.

Questions Pakistan asks

First of all, on what pretext did the Indian authorities blame the Pakistani State for the attack? The suicide bomber named Adil Ahmed Dar was a native Kashmiri, the car used in the Suicide attack was a Mahindra Scorpio (non-existent in Pakistan). How can Indian authorities deduce Pakistan’s hand, with this little information, in such a less time?

Secondly, Adil Ahmed Dar has been named as the suicide bomber by the Indian Media. According to the Kashmir Times story published on 9th October 2017, Indian Security forces had apprehended a Kashmiri named Adil Ahmed Dar. The news quoted the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police for Southern Kashmir, S P Pani that the militants belonged to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Now, this is conflicting news because Indian media claims the attacker to be from Jaish-e-Muhammad. There are also news reports that the attacker never came back from police custody. Without proper investigation, no one will know whether he escaped from the authorities or he was made to film the confession statement under duress.

Thirdly, Indian authorities have claimed that 350KG of explosives were packed into the car which rammed into the CPRF bus. How 350Kg of explosives could be accumulated in the most heavily militarized regions of the world right under the nose of the heavily armed Indian Army. The stretch on which the incident occurred had been cleared earlier in the morning, and authorities have termed this as a “serious breach” of security. Doesn’t this point to the incompetence of the world’s largest buyer of military hardware?

Lastly, who is the beneficiary of the attack, especially from a timings point of view? The attack happened just a day before Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman was due in Islamabad to announce billions of dollars of investment, while on the other hand, Modi wants some political leverage against his opponents. His Pakistan bashing is really popular in his BJP vote bank and this could also be an effort to woo his supporters back to him.

Kashmir: A humanitarian issue

The Kashmir issue has been the bone of contention between the two South-Asian neighbors. It has been the prime reason for hostilities between India and Pakistan. There exists a UN resolution demanding for a plebiscite in Kashmir, for seeking the will of Kashmiri people to weather join Pakistan or Kashmir. India, however, refuses to implement the UN resolution in their true letter and spirit.  Pakistan has been asking India for a dialogue on a peaceful settlement of Kashmir Issue, but India has not only turned down Pakistan’s offers but has kept its heavy-handedness in suppressing the people of Kashmir.

Last year, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on Kashmir. The report made startling revelations about Indian atrocities in Kashmir. The UN reported the use of pellet-firing shotguns against violent protesters resulting in deaths and serious injuries. Official government figures list 17 people as being killed by pellet injuries between July 2016 and August 2017. In January 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister told the state legislative assembly that 6,221 people had been injured by pellet guns. The Human Rights Watch stated that Indian security forces “assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks”; according to the report, rape was regularly used as a means to “punish and humiliate” communities.

The Pulwama attack is purely a domestic issue and blaming Pakistan is just a way for diverting attention from the Indian Army’s atrocities in Kashmir, its incompetence and the BJPs failures. BJP is facing an election defeat visibly and the upcoming elections could most likely mean an end to Modi’s political career. Fore-seeing his future, he is using the one card which plays in India well “Pakistan Bashing”.

Prime Minister Modi has openly threatened revenge on Pakistan. He has to understand that peace in the region is the ultimate prize. Peace and stability in South Asia is a combined responsibility and that such irresponsible remarks are a direct threat to stability.  The Indian media should also tone down the warmongering and hysteria in their content. In these times when information travels with the speed of light, any misunderstanding could have disastrous effects.

Pakistan has offered India times and again to solve all issues including Jammu and Kashmir through peaceful dialogue. In Pakistan, India-bashing has never been an election slogan. Anti-India fanatics do not come to power and the common people do not buy into their anti-Indian rhetoric. Isn’t it high time for India to shun this pointless and baseless habit of pointing fingers at Pakistan for every wrong which happens inside it, and instead address its internal issues through dialogue, at least this is the way civilized nations resolve their issues?

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What Can the Afghan Government and Taliban Learn from Colombia’s Peace Deal with FARC?

Hamidullah Bamik

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The experience of Colombia’s peace with FARC has always been the subject of Western experts working on the war in Afghanistan due to the characteristics of Afghanistan’s war akin to Colombia’s war.

It is argued that the insurgent movement with a political rivalry to mobilize dissenters to enter the community is a substitute order that rebels attempt to fundamentally change the infrastructure of society. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Afghan Taliban insurgents can be put into such socio-political context.

The FARC, with the full name of Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (in Spanish was formed in the 1960s as the armed wing of the Communist Party of Colombia. The FARC officially separated from the Communist Party of Colombia in 1980 but continued its guerrilla war against the Colombian government. The war between FARC and the Government of the Republic of Colombia lasted 55 years and left dead approximately 250,000 people.

Colombia’s Peace Process

The Government of the Republic of Colombia has made three major and important attempts to build peace in the last thirty years, especially in the mid-1980s and late 1990s, but all failed. But peace efforts that began in Havana, the capital of Cuba in 2012, came to fruition five years later. Ultimately, these efforts effectuated in to the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC on November 24, 2016.

The Colombia’s peace agreement with FARC was rejected by less than one percent in a referendum on October 2, 2016. The results of the referendum showed that 50.2 percent of voters opposed the agreement. But later, many Colombians who were anti-FARC rebels became their supporters. To strengthen further the peace and stability in Colombia, the Colombian government allocated 10 seats to FARC in 2018 and 2022 in the Colombia’s Congress elections.

The success of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of Colombia and FARC is derived from their mutual agreement on key issues. First, they reached a reciprocal agreement on development of rural areas, especially those areas that were damaged more than other areas during the conflict. Second, they talked about the elimination of drugs and reducing high poverty rates in the peace process and agreed mutually. Third, the Government of the Republic of Colombia concurred with political participation of FARC members in the political process. Hence, they could successfully end their chronic conflicts that took many Colombians’ lives.

Afghanistan’s Peace Process

In November 2001, the Taliban regime was overthrown entirely by the United Nation forces led by the US. Subsequently, the Afghan government and the international community stepped up their efforts to support various plans to undermine the expansion of insurgents and ultimately bring them to the peace process. These efforts include programs such as Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR 2003-2006), United Nation supported Afghanistan New Beginning Programs (ANBP) and its successor the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG 2005.

When US President Barack Hussein Obama put forward the idea of looking for moderate elements among the insurgent groups in March 2009, the official peace talks in Afghanistan became more important. Unfortunately, all the above peace efforts have not been effective in stabilizing Afghanistan and failed to pursue a meaningful engagement of the involved countries in Afghanistan’s war in the peace process.

Recently, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan declared two truces with the Taliban to encourage them to join the peace process. But unluckily, the Taliban groups not only did not welcome the Afghan government’s ceasefire, except the first truce but also responded with atrocity and intensifying their insurgency. Political experts are inclined to argue that the experiences of the Colombian government’s peace deal with FARC insurgents can aid Afghanistan in reaching a permanent peace deal with the Taliban groups.

The Similarities of Afghanistan’s and Colombia’s War

According to Foreign Policy, the current Afghan war is reminiscent of the Drug War in Colombia and requires a Colombian plan for its termination. The insurgency in Afghanistan is nurtured by an ideological war that is being conducted to bring Afghans under the banner of religion. Conversely, in Colombia, FACR fought with the central government for lucrative sources of money and ways to smuggle drugs. However, it is argued that despite having ideological roots, narcotics is the main financial source of Afghanistan’s insurgent groups.

In 2016, the Global Witness reported that the warlords and Taliban’s earnings from a small Badakhshan region are equal to the total income of the Afghan government’s natural resources sector. The report adds that in 2014, armed groups from two mining areas of Deodarra in Kuran and Munjan districts in Badakhshan province earned about $20 million. It echoes that the ongoing war between the Taliban and the Afghan government is also a war on controlling natural sources like the war between FARC and the Colombian government. Thus, the experiences of the Government of the Republic of Colombia in its peace talks with FARC can help the Afghan government in its peace talks with the Taliban.

The Afghan Taliban groups like the FARC in Colombia, are dwindling in Afghanistan. They still have their local supporters in Afghanistan. Theo Farrell, the professor and executive dean of law, humanities, and the arts at the University of Wollongong, Australia argues that the availability of social resources and the elements that drive and enable military adaptation were the main reasons of Taliban’s successful resurgence after 2001. It projects that still, Taliban groups have a large number of adherents among the Afghan communities. Undoubtedly, they will support the Taliban if the group joins in peace talks with the Afghan government and forms its political faction as did the FARC in Colombia.

The FARC opened negotiations with the Colombian government after decades of armed conflicts. Many of FARC insurgents like the Taliban groups did not believe in the usefulness of the talkswith the Colombian government at the beginning. But they tested their trust and succeeded in this regard. Likewise, the best option for the Afghan Taliban to put into practice their demands is joining the negotiating table with the Afghan government.

The Colombia’s Peace Process Takeaways for Afghanistan’s Peace Process

Perhaps the most important innovation to come out of Colombia’s peace process has been the inclusion of victims. Delegations of victims from both sides of the conflict were invited to come to Havana to recount their experiences. In other words, the Colombian peace process was the first in the world that included a formal role for victims of the conflict—they got to interact directly with the negotiators. The inclusion of victims gave the Colombian government’s peace process its best chance of success. Likewise, Afghanistan’s government can emulate a similar way to succeeding in the peace process with the Taliban. The Afghan government should invite the representatives of the victims of war to the negotiating table so that they can share their stories and gain confidence that their voices are heard in the peace process. 

Ultimately, the need for a comprehensive and lasting peace in Afghanistan requires creating a national and international consensus on the peace process with the Taliban. This is what Colombian President; Juan Manuel Santos did about peace with the FARC rebels. Initially, a national consensus regarding the peace deal was created inside Colombia. Then the Colombian government reached an international consensus for peace with the neighboring countries, the regional and international powers. Similarly, the Afghan government should reach a unanimous agreement on peace talks with the Taliban inside Afghanistan, then with Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, regional and international powers. Doing so, the Afghan government might be able to close the war and insurgency chapter of Afghanistan’s modern history.

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