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intra-Afghan peace talks, a historic opportunity

Feature: Peace Talks – A Historic Opportunity for Afghanistan

The long-awaited peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government finally began on September 13, in Doha, the capital of Qatar. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who himself had traveled to Qatar to attend the talks, said the parties to the conflict should not miss such a “historic opportunity” to end the war in Afghanistan. He called on the negotiators to “show the realism, restraint and flexibility needed to make the process a success.” However, the atmosphere of hope that formed after the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban does not sustain the same optimism.
Violence has risen again since then. In the past few months, Afghanistan has witnessed almost daily attacks from both Taliban and Afghan security forces. Though the talks have started, no seize-fire has been announced. And, the intention of Afghanistan’s presidential palace, Arg, led by Ghani, also seems doubtful, as it has been hampering the process in every possible way. The question is whether a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan can be found in the planned dialogue within Afghanistan.
The Taliban demands about the future of Afghanistan’s political system and structure are still not known completely. They, however, have mentioned that they want a system based on Shariah, while the Afghan negotiation team, led by High Council of National Reconciliation, also claims that the Constitution of the country is based on Islamic ideology, and that is not negotiable as it safeguards the republic system; however, there can be sacrifices made in the government structure for a better form of government that can compensate Taliban as well.
It is 19 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. An event that drew American troops into Afghanistan and laid the foundations of the republic system. Though the present republic system faces myriads of issues, there is no other system that can substitute it. If there are efforts to form an entirely new system, it would require time and it is not possible to establish such system without conflicts and even violence. Thus, the most practical solution for Afghanistan at the moment is compromises from both the key stakeholders in Afghanistan; i.e. the supporters of the republic system and that of the Shariah law.
Afghanistan has incurred a huge human cost to reach this consensus that there is no winner in the war. It is very difficult and time consuming to bear the human, social, cultural and political consequences of this war from the weary citizens of Afghanistan, but it is hopeful that direct talks between the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban will finally reach to some sort of agreement.
The first expectation from the dialogue parties is to realize that a historic opportunity has arisen for Afghanistan; an opportunity that allows us to think deeply together about ending the violence on the Afghan people and ending the current devastating war. This opportunity must continue to focus on a future without war and bloodshed. To perpetuate violence and war is to fall into a vicious circle that neither side benefits from. Different countries with proper support can easily provide us with the tools to end violence and war, but it is undoubtedly a difficult and very big commitment to peace and an end to war. Nevertheless, we are now on the verge of achieving an end to war and peace.
All people from all political backgrounds and perspectives are expected to prioritize the future of Afghanistan, and the opportunity gained through hard work should not be wasted. There is no doubt that there are fundamental differences between the parties to the dialogue on the future of Afghanistan, but the experience of humanity and other countries of the world shows that it is not impossible to reach an agreement on the future, even if there are fundamental and wide-ranging differences. The main expectation from the negotiating parties is to think about Afghanistan and its people more than the demands of other countries and their political groups.
If in a country after at least two decades there is an opportunity for the warring parties to think of a political solution for the future of the country instead of insisting on violence, it is undoubtedly a historic opportunity. But a review of Afghanistan’s historical events shows how decision-makers have historically had a negative impact on the future of a country and a nation. All those in charge of peace negotiations at this critical juncture are expected to understand that the consequences of their decisions, speech, and behavior are not limited to themselves, a particular group, or a particular organization. All of these people at the negotiating table are responsible for the future that follows this historic opportunity for Afghanistan and its people: bloodshed and war or peace and development, grief, death or life. Whatever the people of Afghanistan get after this historic opportunity, the responsibility lies first and foremost with those who are negotiating a political solution around the negotiating table. We all have a duty to think about peace and tranquility, and to achieve it, to prevent the influence of the opponents of peace, whether as an individual, a party, a group or a supporting country.
(Sahar News)

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