EARLIER last month, the Turkish government announced that Turkey would be hosting and facilitating a new round of peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban sometime in April this year. The upcoming talks aim to complement and reinforce previous meetings held in Qatar.
With this Ankara initiative, it is expected that the parties involved would be able to further solidify and potentially lay the foundation for a permanent and just settlement to the long and complex Afghanistan armed conflict.
Turkey has long proved itself to be a reliable partner after years of delicately balancing its ties with Afghanistan throughout times of war and peace.
As such, Turkey has not only emerged as a trustworthy peace broker but also has the ability to bring other powerful nations into the picture. Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, Qatar and India are among the important players involved in the upcoming peace negotiations.
Even Indonesia has been very proactive, with former vice-president Yusuf Kalla constantly travelling between Kabul and Qatar, meeting with officials of both governments to lobby for peace.
The presence of these powerful countries clearly shows that Afghanistan’s security and stability are crucial to international peace, thus there is a need to ensure that the upcoming meeting will be “internationally endorsed and supported”.
Strong participation of parties beyond the regional actors is a must to make this work. Unfortunately, Malaysia is neither taking any active role nor seen to be endorsing such an important international peace effort. This is despite Malaysia’s reputation as a progressive democracy as well as a fast-developing country.
Without cohesive and strong international support, the Ankara initiative could fail, and this failure would be catastrophic, escalating an already complex civil and regional proxy war in Afghanistan.
This would lead to other threats against international peace and security, compromising our efforts in the fight against global terrorism, drug trafficking and future war-generated waves of refugees.
Malaysia should voice its support for the Ankara peace initiatives and be part of the regional and international convergence to deliver peace and development to the Afghan people.
This is a unique chance for Malaysia to be part of the international efforts to not just end the long war in Afghanistan but also the other critical challenges and dangers that threaten its stability, the region, and the wider world.
Given the urgency of the process and importance of international solidarity and support for an eventual Afghan peace agreement, this diplomatic initiative should be prioritised by all regional and international stakeholders, including Malaysia.
By doing so, Malaysia would strengthen its self-projection as a true partner for world peace and champion of moderate Islam.
DR ABDUL RAZAK AHMAD
Founding director, Bait al-Amanah
(Bait al-Amanah describes itself as an independent research institute that conducts studies and research on governance and democracy, economics, security and issues of national importance.)