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Russia Emerges as a Key Player in the Afghanistan Peace Talks

After visiting India, Sergey Lavrov who serves as the Foreign Minister of Russia begun a two-day visit to Pakistan to hold a high-level delegation meeting. He met with the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Lavrov also called upon the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as the Army Chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The two foreign ministers spoke about bolstering economic and trade ties. Pakistan stated that Russia has contributed to regional stability. The two nations looked at cooperation in the defense sector and ways to counter-terrorism.

The Pakistan foreign minister stated that they were building a strong multi-dimensional relationship with Russia. Adding further that this was a priority for the country.

The Russian Foreign minister on the other side expressed their satisfaction with the increase in mutual trade. The two nations also discussed the possibility of Russian aid in the area of the North-South gas pipeline.

The main purpose of the discourse was the Afghanistan peace process. Ministers of both nations confirmed that cooperation in the Afghan peace process was on the right path. Russia asserted that both the nations agreed that they need to further assist contradictory and hostile parties for dialogue on this issue.

In 2018 the US stepped up its support of the Afghan military. In order to force the insurgents to the negotiating tables, it increases the number of airstrikes against the Taliban. That same year Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposed peace talks offering to recognize the Taliban as a political force. While the international community considers the Ghani administration to be Afghanistan’s legitimate government the Taliban see it as a foreign-imposed regime. They believe that the Ghani administration does not represent the Afghan people and has no real power. So while the Kabul government peace talks offer was rejected, the Taliban expressed that they were open to negotiating with Washington officials.

It was back in July 2018 when the diplomats of the United States secretly set up a meeting in Qatar with the Taliban representatives. Meetings followed the following year but none involved Ghani and his administration. For the Taliban, the main purpose of the talks has been the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. It is these peace talks that make some sort of dialogue possible with the Taliban.

Apart from the US, other regional powers like Russia, China, and India also play a role in facilitating the peace process. Lavrov’s visit also comes as the May 1 deadline for the US troops to leave Afghanistan nears. This is in line with the deal that Washington has signed a year ago with the Taliban.

However, complete American troop pull-out by this deadline seems increasingly unlikely. The Taliban has warned against overstepping the deadline.

Meanwhile, Russia has intensified its efforts to emerge as key player in the peace push. Last month Moscow hosted the Taliban and the Afghani officials for a one-day meeting.

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