According to the theory of structural realism, when States believe that actions are legal, they will use force outside their territory, and when they believe that current actions are illegal, they will stop using force. Nearly 19 years later, the United States for the first time regarded the non-state actor as a legitimate stakeholder, which had previously been called terrorists. These stakeholders will now have the legitimate right to govern Afghanistan and will determine the future of Kabul. On February 29, 2020, the United States signed a peace treaty with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. According to the agreement, if the Taliban do not violate the agreement, Washington will withdraw its troops within 14 months from the date of signing the treaty. Taliban leader Mullah Baradar signed the treaty with US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, all credit goes to Pakistani government. Previously, Trump was mentioned during his first official meeting with Imran Khan in 2019, that the Prime Minster Imran Khan has the “power” to resolve the Afghanistan issue, which became now the reality.
Many international relations literatures have noted the peace process, but the most famous is Charles W. Kegley’s “From War to Peace”. He mentioned that if both sides believe that the cost of fighting is positive, the war between the two sides will continue forever, and if both sides think that the cost is negative, it will stop. And both sides will agree to a peace agreement, the same argument can be applied to the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement. The questions now are how was the cost negative for both sides? What will the future of Afghanistan look like? To answer these questions, first we need to understand the role of Pakistan and other stakeholders such as Iran, Russia and India, as well as its importance to regional security, which is closely related to the future of Afghanistan.
No one can deny that the Pakistani government has played an important role in bringing the Taliban and the United States together for the peace and prosperity of the region. As we mentioned in the previous article, the foreign policy of Pakistan under Imran Khan has changed compared with previous administrations. Pakistan has now shifted from unilateral interests to common interests, which is essential for regional peace and security. For example, Pakistan was the first country to diplomatically support the Taliban government in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. When the United States has decided to use troops in Afghanistan where the Taliban were hosted al-Qaeda, almost all states formed an anti-terrorism alliance to support and join the US-led “war on terror”. Where, Pakistan was no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, because it was isolated in the world, and was threatened by Washington if not did so then the consequences will be so bad. Pakistan cut off the diplomatic ties with the Taliban government for which Islamabad paid a heavy cost in the decades after 9 / 11, as many civilian and military were killed during terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Imran Khan is the first political leader who has raised voice from the beginning of the war that there is no military solution to Afghanistan. Now, 19 years later, when the United States fails to achieve its foreign policy goals and normalize the situation in Afghanistan, trying to find a political solution. All the major powers failed to find a comprehensive solution for peace; however, it is the new Government of Pakistan under Imran Khan that succeeded in reaching what we now call the United States-Taliban Peace Agreement.
One can easily concludes that Pakistan has completely changed its previous policies towards Afghanistan and is now focusing on regional peace and prosperity. As the Pakistani Prime Minister said on Twitter after the agreement was signed “we welcome the Doha Accord signed between US & the Taliban. This is the start of a peace & reconciliation process to end decades of war & suffering of the Afghan people. I have always maintained that a pol solution, no matter how complex, is the only meaningful path to peace.” It has been confirmed that Pakistan now wants friendly and peaceful Afghanistan where previously it always struggled for the “strategic depth” in Afghanistan to security their security and strategic interests. However, now Pakistan is avoiding interference in Afghanistan and for the first time the Pakistan civilian government and the military are on the same page. But what are about other stakeholders such as India, Russia and Iran? Do we think that The India or other two stakeholders will allow the Taliban government?
According to my point of view the Russia and Iran interest can be converged with the Taliban but India can never, as New Delhi will never allow a pro-Pakistani or the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Surely if India did interfere in Afghanistan domestic politics, then it will be disaster for the Afghan feature. It is time for the Afghan people to know who their enemies are and who their friends are. I strongly recommend them that at least to stop the negative thoughts about Pakistan and strive to normalize relations with Islamabad on the basis of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. However, I know that in the presence of India this could not be possible.
Now coming back to answer the two basic questions, that how the fighting was negative cost for both sides. As since 9/11, America has spent more than $1 trillion on war and reconstruction in the country; about 2,400 US soldiers have been killed. Moreover, the greatest lost for Trump will be his defeat in the upcoming election as he is promised to finish the “endless wars” and now if he failed to finish, then the consequences are very clear. On the other hand, for the Taliban the negative cost was they were wasting the opportunity to again rule on Afghanistan. Now Untied States have declared the Taliban government as a legitimate actor, and have right to decide the future of Kabul. But if the regional stakeholders such as India still looks for strategic and security interest in Kabul and do not stop interfering then it will lead the peace deal to peace hell.