Mr. Andrew Korybko, Correspondent Sputnik, News Agency and Radio visited Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on 17 April 2017. He delivered a talk on “Russian Perceptions on Afghanistan’s Peace Process: A Way Forward”. The talk was followed by questions and answers.
The salient points are as under:-
- Mr. Andrew Korybko while referring to the Afghan situation said that internally, there was chaos and division within the various Afghan ethnic factions. Externally, the terrorist outfits, in particular, the Daesh elements had heightened the security concern.
- While discussing the role of foreign and domestic actors in Afghanistan, he opined that the cooperation among the state stakeholders and the Kabul-Taliban talks were both pivotal to the Afghan peace process. He pointed out that the US and India did not support talks with Taliban. Kabul government was also opposed to the idea of talks with Taliban, and had designated all of the Taliban as “terrorists”. Contrarily, Russia supported talks with Taliban. According to the Russian perspective, the Taliban who are against the Daesh ingress in the country, should be pursued for talks. He used the term “good Taliban” for anti-Daesh Taliban and “bad” for terrorist Taliban. He said that the recently held Moscow led talks focused on peaceful settlement of Afghan situation. He said for the peace process to move forward, the state stakeholders and the Afghan government will have to give their obstinate stance and look for common ground for negotiations with Taliban.
- While supporting talks with Taliban, he reiterated that Daesh was a common factor between Kabul and Taliban, and this could be a fulcrum of prospective positive interaction. The ideal scenario would be if both Kabul and the Taliban indirectly coordinate their anti-terrorist actions with one another through some of the intermediary states present at the negotiations. Further, he explained that the distinction between the “good” and “bad” Taliban would open up avenues for talks. Subsequently, zones of control could unofficially be delineated and this could set the foundation for a ceasefire and the path to a political settlement.
- To facilitate indirect talks between Kabul and Taliban, a state could play the role of a ‘neutral intermediary’. He said that Russia’s role in ‘Astana Tripartite Model’ (Russia, Turkey and Iran) in Syria did prove instrumental in generating talks and setting the framework for a political solution to the conflict. Russia could be a mediatory in Kabul-Taliban talks, and could bring the regional stakeholders (Pakistan, Iran, India and Central Asian Republics) to talks. Russian perception was that the Afghan peace process required a political solution (not military), and should start by Kabul-Taliban cooperation against the global evil – Daesh.
The materialization of CPEC and Afghan peace are both central to regional connectivity. Without peace in Afghanistan, the Central-South link cannot be established. The shared vision of progress and development can be the pushing factors behind regional connectivity and Afghan peace. The hostile elements would try to demonize the concept of corridor and abet instability in Afghanistan. To frustrate such disgruntled moves, cooperation at the regional level is required. There is a need to engage with the regional actors strategically and making them partners (not enemies). The expanded think tanks cooperation can be useful in this regard.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the speaker and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.