By Tahira Saleem, GPS Issue Analyst on Iraq and Afghanistan

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai has recently announced the formation of a new Peace Council headed by the former President Burhanudin Rabbani. The new peace council is another effort for reintegration of the Taliban in the country’s political system. The earlier Kabul conference and London conference had similar aims of brokering peace with the warring factions in Afghanistan. But the question arises about whether this new council promises any hope for the war-torn country.

The peace council, the brainchild of Karzai, has neglected the Afghan traders, intellectuals, and the members of civil society. All of its 69 hand-picked members are Afghan warlords; the key figure among them is Burhanudin Rabbani, who is implicated in war crimes of killing and displacement of Afghan people.

Moreover, the Taliban have refused to enter into a dialogue process with America and demand the earliest withdrawal of ISAF forces possible. The war is in its deadliest year since 2001.  A common Afghan man today does not identify himself with the policies of the Karzai government, which has gained a profound disrepute for its patronage of drug barons and other corrupt elements.

However, the peace process could jumpstart if the US were to make a gesture of releasing some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay or to remove some Taliban members from the UN sanction list.   Pakistan also has a very pivotal role to play in the Afghan peace process, which must not be ignored if reconciliation is desired between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The road to peace may be jerky and long, but the ultimate destination worth it.

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