Visit of Zamir Kabulov to Islamabad and Afghan Peace Process

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By Agha Iqrar Haroon

Agha Iqrar Haroon is a Development Observer. His area of work includes Central Asia, South Asia and Eastern European regions . He is also Chief Editor of DND News Agency
Agha Iqrar Haroon is a senior journalist a Development Observer.
He is also Chief Editor of DND News Agency. He covered Afghan War in 1995-99 and then in 2002-2006.

The visit of the Russian President’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov to Islamabad is very significant, symbolic, and meaningful.

No significant news came from his meetings with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and official statements expressed traditional and diplomatic language and indicated that matters of mutual interest, regional security situation particularly developments in the Afghan peace process were discussed. However, this visit of Kabulov is in focus in Washington.

Having knowledge of Dari, Pushto, Urdu, English, and Punjabi, Kabulov is considered a living Encyclopedia of Afghan Politics among his colleagues.

This visit perhaps links with Taliban Diplomacy reinitiated with Iran and Russia in January 2021. Taliban delegation headed by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai visited Moscow in January.  Stanikzai is deputy head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha but is also responsible for contacts with Russia and the CIS countries.

Stanikzai and Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov know each other for ages because Zamir Kabulov had been working in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran during his diplomatic career when the Afghan-Russo war was at a high pitch while Stanikzai fought in the Soviet-Afghan War, first with Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi’s Islamic and National Revolution Movement of Afghanistan, then with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf’s Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan.

Stanikzai was commander of the south-western front and Kabulov was working in the region. From 1979 to 1983 he worked in the Soviet Embassy in Iran. From 1983 to 1987, he was the second secretary in the Soviet Embassy in Kabul. He was again posted in Kabul during 1991-1992 as Councillor at the Soviet/Russian embassy. He was sent to Islamabad when Russian Embassy stopped working in Kabul. Having knowledge of Dari, Pushto, Urdu, English, and Punjabi, Kabulov is considered a living Encyclopedia of Afghan Politics among his colleagues.

The January visit of Sher Mohammad Stanekzai to Moscow and his meetings with Kabulov again brought Russian Diplomacy out of hibernation, which has not been able to boast of any initiatives in the Afghan direction for more than a year. The “Moscow format” of consultations on the Afghan crisis, presented at one time by Zamir himself took a long time after the Taliban concluded a deal with the Americans in Doha at the end of February 2020.

Both voyages in January of the Taliban leadership to Iran and Russia are, first of all, a signal to Biden’s team that they are ready to restart close alliances with US opponents once again if the deal on February 29, 2020, is revised or rejected

Some Russian observers believe that the Taliban were using Moscow Format as a bargaining chip with Washington. After signing an agreement with the United States, the Taliban forgot their way to Moscow for almost a year.  One should remember that the US did not attend Moscow Format, therefore, does not accept any recommendation of the Moscow Format or Moscow Peace initiative.

Will, the US forces leave Afghanistan from where they manage the entire region including Iran, Central Asia, and Pakistan?

The return of Qatari Taliban office to Moscow streets, in January, is again connected with the Americans: it happened almost immediately after the representatives of the new US administration announced the intention of President Biden to revise last year’s deal with the Taliban.

It is pertinent to mention that in January 2021, a Taliban delegation led by the head of the political office in Doha, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar also went to Tehran. There is no doubt that both voyages in January of the Taliban leadership to Iran and Russia are, first of all, a signal to Biden’s team that they are ready to restart close alliances with US opponents once again if the deal on February 29, 2020, is revised or rejected. It is not yet clear how Washington will react to this form of response from the Taliban.

US understands that peaceful Afghanistan will be a gift for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) —– a regional-connectivity project that is a Nightmare for United States.

Pakistan has been proactive and instrumental in Moscow Format as well as in the Doha Peace initiative and the likely stay of US forces in Afghanistan under the Biden Administration is not good news for Pakistan as well as for the Taliban and Russia. Pakistan has been a victim of unstable Afghanistan and the continuity of war on Afghan soil is not in favour of Islamabad. Pakistan has reasons to believe and facts to submit that Afghan soil is being used by India for injecting terrorism in Pakistan, particularly in Baluchistan.  Russia believes that the US is using the Afghan war situation to destabilise Central Asian countries bordering Russian Federation. Therefore, the departure of the United States from Afghanistan is important for three main stakeholders —Russia, Pakistan, and the Taliban. Iran is also on the list that is waiting for US departure from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Will, the US forces leave Afghanistan from where they manage the entire region including Iran, Central Asia, and Pakistan? US understands that peaceful Afghanistan will be a gift for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) —– a regional-connectivity project that has become a nightmare for the United States.

One can say that Pakistan, the Taliban, Iran, and Russia are feeling a kind of nervousness due to uncertainty about the future of Afghan Peace, which certainly will not hide from Washington’s eyes. The reason for the worries of the political leaders of the Taliban is quite clear: the new US President Biden may renege on Donald Trump’s obligations regarding the timing and conditions of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. This can jeopardize Peace Initiatives in Afghanistan and will support Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who apparently wishes failure of the Afghan Peace process because he will have to leave the Presidential Palace for all times to come in case the US and the Taliban really follow the conditions of the Doha Talks.

Pakistan certainly understands that the prospect of a resumption of direct hostilities between the Taliban and US and NATO forces will again place Pakistan in a full-fledged War Zone.

It is pertinent to understand that the warmongering mindset in Washington does not want any peace deal with the Taliban, telling the Biden team that the Taliban have been talking about their victory which brought America and NATO to their knees, forcing them to get out of Afghan soil. If the Americans suddenly stop Trump’s flight from Afghanistan and even toughen their demands on the Taliban regarding the need for a complete ceasefire and the preservation of democratic gains in the Afghan state, then the concept of a victory of the Taliban will have to be revised. And the big question is how ordinary Taliban fighters and warlords will react to this, being disappointed by the apparent failure of their political leadership.

Pakistan certainly understands that the prospect of a resumption of direct hostilities between the Taliban and US and NATO forces will again place Pakistan in a full-fledged War Zone.

Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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