The demand for a week-long “nationwide reduction in violence” in Afghanistan was announced by the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo to reach a truce between US and Taliban. Completing this demand that starts from February 21 will most probably result in the expected signing of the US-Taliban peace agreement on February 29, 2020. Reduction in violence is a tricky demand and if this is to be the fulcrum to finalising a peace agreement. The tentative deal rests on unsteady footing, but if all goes as planned, it will lead to the withdrawal of thousands of US troops and later, comprehensive Intra Afghanistan peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are likely to begin. This will build fundamental steps in the delivery of a permanent settlement and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan.

Though the tweet of Ahmad Shuja Jamal, DG for international affairs in ANS Council is offensive and portrays that the Taliban are at the mercy of the US and Afghan governments; factually it is on the contrary, but Taliban appears to keep the cool as Sirajuddin Haqqani; the deputy leader of Taliban has categorically articulated the future look of Afghanistan saying that once liberated from foreign domination and interference, Taliban in collaboration will build an Islamic system having equal rights for all, and rights of women granted by Islam will be protected including right to education to the right to work and merit will remain the key for equal opportunity in free Afghanistan. As Doha is central in organising and conducting these peace talks, there are several other players who have pivotal roles and have proved to be instrumental in the entire effort. Indeed, these efforts are not out of philanthropic positions, but out of certain interests. There are two related questions that arise here; one, who has and what are the interests associated with these peace consultations (interest savers)? Two, who is not happy and seem to lose expected interests with peace in Afghanistan (interest losers)?

In the list of interest savers, the US herself is on top. At a time when America is intensely divided politically, there is one policy that appears to have almost undisputed support; ending the US war in Afghanistan. Poll after poll shows that Americans across the political and social spectrum want the war to end, and it’s one of the few things that President Donald Trump promised to the people of America and nearly every 2020 Democratic candidate agrees on.

The Taliban are indeed second in the list. As we know that throughout the talks, the Taliban maintained the same position they’ve held since 2001: All foreign troops must leave Afghanistan, the Afghan government in Kabul (which the Taliban consider an American “puppet” regime) must be destroyed or dismantled, and a new Islamic Emirate must be installed. Thus, reaching a peace agreement is not only the victory of the Taliban’s stance rather will bring the Taliban back to the core business of officially governing a country and taking decisions. Pakistan facilitated negotiations between Washington and the Taliban.

Besides being a major player in decreasing hate between two opposing poles, Pakistan is certainly the third most relevant country to take constructive advantages out of the expected peace truce. For instance, the Taliban will not let Afghanistan become a launchpad for terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the region as well as in the world. Pushing for the Taliban will bring back a considerable progressive political role of Pakistan in Kabul that has been taken by India currently for only vicious purposes. Pakistan can and must take advantage of its role in the peace negotiation to press for foreign intervention in its conflict with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Friendly relations with the Taliban will give a diplomatic push to India and cause safer and faster CPEC progress.

This makes China a huge but remote stakeholder of the US-Taliban peace agreement. The Belt-Road Initiative (BRI) and its flagship project the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) requires regional peace. As we know, Mullah Beradar took a nine-member delegation on the invitation from Beijing last year; though President Trump halted the negotiations abruptly after that, which clearly reveals China’s earnest interest in the peace agreement, the withdrawal of US forces from the region, and taking covert control over Afghanistan. China has already offered to host the intra-Afghan talks, and this offer is not solely on humanitarian grounds, but due to long-held interests.

Russia turned from a marginal post-Soviet player almost outsider on Afghanistan in the 1990s into a major diplomatic actor and supporter of a negotiated settlement. Moscow’s diplomatic initiatives help advancing Russia’s interests, and fit into Russia’s broader foreign policy patterns, handling regional conflicts and the conundrum of Russia-West relations: it is very important to mention that Pak-Putin policy needs more serious attention and Pakistan has to more actively and directly engage with Moscow.

In the month of Valentine, one has to be aware of Claudius. India in any circumstances would never be able to appreciate the peace agreement and further intra-Afghan peace talks, the reason why is simple; her losing control in regional diplomacy will let others grow and become safe places to live. Likewise, the current Afghan government; which had been tirelessly supporting India in her bad deeds, is likely to lose its position and control over Afghanistan. Already reports of international bodies like SIGAR have indicated 75% of the territory being controlled by the Taliban even in the presence of puppet Ghani’s government. Mike Pompeo and other serious stakeholders need to ask, who are the Saints and the Claudius and keep a check on any mischievous or malicious attempt by anyone who will be intimidated and whose interests are losing grounds due to reaching the US-Taliban peace truce in the beautiful month of Valentine.