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Prospects of Peace After the Ceasefire

Feature: Prospects of Peace in Afghanistan After the Ceasefire

The Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire across Afghanistan during Eid. The Afghan government welcomed it. These three days were comparatively peaceful days for the people of Afghanistan. The relative calm after days of violence and war promised people happiness and hope for peace. The ceasefire was warmly welcomed by the government and international organizations. The Afghan people are also tired of the war and they hope that they have lives free of violence and bloodshed. It was the first time the Taliban have taken the lead in calling for a ceasefire for a short time. The Taliban had previously denied the request for a ceasefire. Only once, at the request of the Afghan government, did they accept a three-day ceasefire previously as well, after which they resumed their fight. This second short-term ceasefire could be extended, or there can be such initiatives in future for longer period of time so that people benefit from them.
The ceasefire initiative was undoubtedly a great step forward in building trust among the warring factions. In response, Afghan government resumed the release of Taliban prisoners and a similar action was taken by Taliban. Government said in a statement that they released 900 more Taliban prisoners after ceasefire and claimed to have released 2,710 Taliban in total, to which the Taliban responded by stating that 426 detainees released were not affiliated with the group. The dispute on the numbers can once again derail the prisoners release process and prove detrimental for peace as a whole; therefore, it is necessary that both the factions must have better communication to resolve the discrepancy. Otherwise, the violence will continue in the country.
In the presence of violence, building trust for practical steps to achieve peace is not possible. A clear example is the situation that prevailed in Afghanistan before the Eid in the atmosphere of distrust. The Taliban intensified their violence, while the Afghan government ordered security forces to launch an offensive and stop the release of prisoners. We have seen that the peace process has been effectively jeopardized by violence.
In order for peace talks to resume, it is necessary for the ceasefire to persist. This is the demand of many stakeholders. The Afghan government wants the ceasefire to continue. Afghanistan’s human rights organizations and the international community share this view. People have been waiting for it for decades. The Taliban must also show that they have the will to achieve peace. If Taliban leaders again order their fighters to fight, it means that the group has no will for peace and still believes in achieving power through war, and most importantly, it can prove to be the main obstacle to peace.
The start date for intra-Afghan talks was two months earlier but they never started. Now that the political differences within Afghan leadership has been solved and Taliban seem eager to talk, the intra-Afghan talks must not take more time. The government and, especially the National Council for Reconciliation under the leadership of Abdullah Abdullah must be quick in finalizing the negotiation team so that the talks must start. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the participation of women, civil society and minorities must be ensured in the intra-Afghan talks.
A lasting ceasefire and peace is the will of the people. It is the people of Afghanistan who have given sacrifices because of insecurity and violence for years and lost all their possessions in this devastating war. Now that there is an opportunity for peace, it must not be wasted and people must be given some relief and some days of peace and tranquility.
(Sahar News)

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