Turkey, under the able leadership of Gul and Erdogan has has emerged as a potent player in the unfolding Afghanistan peace process. Afghanistan and Pakistan are working on a comprehensive peace roadmap -despite the death of Nazir and Rabbani — with the active, but behind-the-scenes assistance and blessings of the UK and the US. After the failure to open a Talib office in Qatar, Turkey is offering to host the senior Talib leaders.
It is obvious to Delhi that even though “India is not part of the deal, India will be deeply affected by the outcome of whatever political process is implemented in Afghanistan.” India is getting desperate to get its own point of view heard. Delhi’s wish for a “strong presence on the ground in Afghanistan, India will be keen to ensure its own red lines about the accommodation of Taliban in a future Afghan government are respected.”
In a last ditch effort, Shivshankar Menon, the Indian national security adviser, is being sent to Turkey in February for talks on Afghanistan with his Muammer Turker and foreign secretary, Feridun Sinirlioglu. In a turnabout, India is now pushing for an expedited US withdrawal.
During December 2012′s trilateral summit of Asif Zardari, Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Gul in Ankara it became apparent that all parties are keen to achieve some kind of a peace breakthrough in Afghanistan. The Pakistani troika is united in its focus that Islamabad will support the peace effort as long as Pakistan’s interests are preserved.
The latest news out of Pentagon seems to indicate that Washington wants a smaller footprint in Afghanistan. The new numbers seem to vary from 3000 to 6000 to 9000. At the end, Rupee News predicts that the US contingent in Pakistan will be smaller that what most expect. We have always predicted that the US will withdraw its forces this year –2013.
For Delhi, it seems that the train has left the station. Ankara, Islamabad and Kabul seem to have agreed on all the major points needed for peace. Even though there are a lot of steps between the lip and the cup, but it seems obvious that the deal has been struck.