This month we have witnessed a week-long “reduction in violence” between the Taliban, the US and Afghan security forces raising hopes for a resolution to the 18-year-long war. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the development and said both sides will invite senior representatives to take part in a peace deal “signing ceremony”.
The Taliban’s statement also said the signing of the peace deal would be followed by intra-Afghan talks with various political parties in the country. Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said, “This could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, sustainable peace, and ensuring the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists.”
Any agreement struck during negotiations between US and Taliban representatives could secure a peace deal that would lead to a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.
There are probably as many “Talibans” as there are Pashtun families in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) in Pakistan. When a good friend of mine was there, the worst Taliban family were the Haqqani and the second worse was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, founder and current leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG).
The HIG are now part of President Ghani’s government and have been for a few years now. Western European countries have pushed governance and judicial nonsense down the Afghan’s throats following the Rome Conference in 2002. Unfortunately, Afghan society has its own way of working with a layered bureaucratic system of government that works like a weak monarchy.
No surprises about the system of governance as after the chaos resulting from the fall of the Durrani Empire in 1826, emerged the Barakzai dynasty which ruled modern day Afghanistan until 1973 when the last monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah was deposed on July 17, 1973.
The country is carved up into provinces which in turn are each carved up into districts. It is a type of feudalism, in which local tribal chieftains and elders maintain power and constantly jockey for more power at their neighbour’s expense. They are the district governors. Above them are the princes and the provincial governors. Since there are now no kings it is now Ghani who calls the shots.
The northern Provinces are less “Islamic,” although they are all Muslims. The Tajiks and old Russian-backed minorities are in the north where Mazar is capital. The Western Provinces are Iranian influenced, and the Afghan version of the Shia is practised by the Hazara with Herat the capital. The Pashtuns, who previously maintained the monarchy, are in the east and south. The two big Pashtun capitals are Kandahar in the south and Jalalabad in the east.
The northern tribes and the Hazara especially were brutalised under the Taliban regime after the Russians withdrew and the Taliban won the ensuing civil war. Today, the Taliban is dominated by the Pashtun who are the poorest and least educated. The northern tribes and Hazara are the most educated and economically developed.
And there are a couple of thousand years of nonsense weaved into this carpet. Ever wonder why the Afghan time zone is what it is? Or the two official languages? Dari is nothing more than Farsi with an Afghan twist. But Afghans do not want to admit they are speaking Farsi. And Pashto, which is the language of the Pashtun; well that is the Pakistani language in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Any volunteers to lead a peace agreement.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at email@example.com