Peace in Afghanistan: Will Pakistan Play Ball?
Image Credit: State Department

Peace in Afghanistan: Will Pakistan Play Ball?

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As the war in Afghanistan winds down, with the withdrawal of American combat troops scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, there’s a modest ratcheting up of movement towards a reconciliation with the Taliban. Though many analysts are skeptical a deal can be reached within the limited amount of time before the withdrawal, and though the Taliban has plenty of incentives to forestall real talks and wait out the United States, many agree that Pakistan still holds the key to an accord.

In light of this, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council’s (HPC) leaked, five-step plan for reaching an accord, called the Peace Process Road Map to 2015, begins with “a focus on securing the cooperation of Pakistan.” The document says that was to have begun in earnest with a visit to Pakistan in November by Salahuddin Rabbani, the HPC’s chairman, who after meeting with high Pakistani officials, was to attempt to secure Islamabad’s agreement for the progressive release of imprisoned Taliban officials held in Pakistan.

The plan proposes that in the first half of 2013, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States work together “to agree on terms and conditions for delisting, safe passage, and other requirements of Taliban leaders willing to engage in peace talks.” Formal talks, beginning with efforts to proclaim a ceasefire, will take place in the second half of next year, and, according to the plan, will pave the way for the ”transformation of the Taliban and other armed groups from militant groups to political movements.” The goal of the five-step plan to have a final peace accord and expanded regional cooperation in place by 2014.

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