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It is an international plot against Afghans. It is hatched in Doha. It is authored by America. It is facilitated by the Qatari government. It will destroy women’s liberty. Stay with me. I explain.

Until the 1970s, Afghan women, dressed in miniskirts, breathing in the air of liberty, upholding their personal individualism, walked the streets of Kabul, into offices, schools and universities. Kabul was the most cosmopolitan city. Delhi was a village of orthodoxy, irrational ideas and obscurantism. From Afghanistan to Pakistan and India and beyond, Afghan women were the first to get the right to vote as early as in 1919. American women were not yet allowed to vote.

Then the Russian military intervention in 1979 destabilized the order of Afghan liberty. The mujahideen, backed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, mentored and guided by Pakistan, emerged victorious by the end of 1980s. The Taliban are their successors. During the 1990s, the Taliban seized power and unleashed their orthodox and obscurantist ideas on the beautiful Afghans. The burqa-clad Afghan woman became the global face of Afghanistan. Benazir Bhutto, the leader of Pakistan on a visit to Washington DC, called the Taliban “our children.”

In 2001, history offered a chance to Afghans to redeem their glorious, liberal past. American soldiers, arriving to avenge the attacks of 9/11, were seen as harbingers of democratic rights, as a promise to re-establish the order of Afghan liberty. Pakistan, which had been seeking to establish an Islamic corridor to Central Asia for decades, sheltered the Taliban jihadis fleeing Afghanistan. Over the next 18 years, while the American soldiers fought in Afghanistan, Pakistan hosted the Taliban commanders, on the watch of the U.S., in Quetta.

As we move into the year 2020, an international plot against Afghanistan, conceived in Doha, has unfolded before our eyes. Over the past few years, the Taliban safehavens in the Pakistani city of Quetta and the region of Waziristan have successfully moved to Qatar – facilitated by America and Pakistan. It is in Doha from where the Taliban’s topmost leadership plots and directs jihadi terrorists in Afghanistan. While the safehavens continue to exist in Pakistan, Doha has emerged as another safehaven for the Taliban.

On December 30, 2019, it emerged that the U.S. has agreed to the release of 5,000 Taliban terrorists from Afghan prisons as part of an agreement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization). As per a report by the Associated Press, the Taliban prisoners’ release has been written into the draft agreement. Terrorist groups comprise of dozens to a few hundred members. The move to free 5,000 Taliban jihadis is a Doha plot to arm the Islamic Emirate and transform it into a formidable force of terror.

It’s a tragedy – desired by America, facilitated by Qatar, authored by Zalmay Khalilzad, the lead U.S. negotiator with the Taliban. It helps Pakistan. It harms Afghans; it damages the democratic state of Afghanistan elected by people; it curbs women’s rights and liberties; it blocks the path of individual freedom necessary for the advancement of tribes, communities and nations. If America’s sole goal is to withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan, it is free to do so without handing a peace agreement to the Taliban which they will not abide by.

On December 27, 2019, media reports indicated that some Taliban leaders were open to a short ceasefire. However, the Taliban are a jihadi force, motivated by an ideological outlook, not the interests of Afghans, especially women and civil society groups that form the infrastructure of a good society in any country. It came as no surprise that Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, released a statement saying that the Taliban will not agree a ceasefire.

Zabihullah Mujahid described media reports about ceasefire as “false and baseless” and as “propaganda” by media organizations. He wrote: “The reality of the situation is that the Islamic Emirate has no intention of declaring a ceasefire.” Through ten rounds of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, the Taliban strategy has been to use Doha to hold international talks and derive diplomatic legitimacy, sign an agreement in which the Taliban are equal with the U.S., the global power of the day, without committing even to a ceasefire.

If the U.S. wants to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, it should just walk out. The withdrawal of American troops without a ceasefire monitored by a United Nations peacekeeping force will unleash an era of unfreedom on Afghans. The result of a shady pact with the Taliban jihadi force will not be different. The Doha agreement will herald a new dark age for Afghans and will, more worryingly, arm the Taliban again, much to the delight of Pakistan and Qatar.

Author

  • Tufail Ahmad, a former BBC journalist, is Senior Fellow at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Washington DC. Tufail is also a British journalist and political commentator of Indian origin.His writings can be read here: www.memri.org/sasp