Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Taliban, not Ready for Talks

Amongst the hopes that Afghan government would have direct talks with Taliban, a statement from Taliban has been released wherein they have announced that they would not participate in peace talks with the Afghan government, saying their supreme leader had authorized no one to participate in any such parlays. Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has aid in a statement, “We explicitly say that the ‘Islamic Emirate’ has not assigned anyone and the leadership council has not decided about participation in such talks.” It has also been claimed in the statement that Taliban’s political office in Qatar had not been consulted about the peace talks. Talban have aloes reiterated their list of demands they had presented at a Pugwash conference, including withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, removal of their leaders from the UN blacklist and releasing their prisoners were met. They also believe that US stance is hypocritical as on one hand the US is planning to send more troops to Afghanistan besides continuing airstrikes in various areas and actively participating in night raids and on the other arranging meetings to push for peace talks.
It is important to see what would the response of the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group (QCG) regarding this statement as earlier it had given clear indication that the talks would start from this month. This shows the lack of communication between the Group and the Taliban. If Taliban were not ready for the talks what were the preparation being made for? It is really important that there should be clear stance by the Group and it should be made public as people are totally uncertain about the circumstances.
For Afghanistan the peace talks are of great importance. If there is any lasting peace in the country, it will only be possible through negotiations with Taliban; there is no other option. Especially fighting is no more an option as it has already led to myriads of killings and destruction. Nevertheless, the important factor is that Afghan government should be able to have a comprehensive strategy regarding how to proceed in talks with Taliban, especially when they have already rejected to talk with the Afghan government.
Afghanistan would be faced with myriads of security incidents. Already the security incidents have become the order of the day. Everyday there are tragic news from different parts of the country regarding bombings and ruthless killings by Taliban insurgents. The prospects of peace and tranquility are becoming darker with each passing day. Coupled with that is the fact that the promises of negotiations and reconciliation do not seem to be turning into tangible steps and within such a scenario Afghan civilians are the ones who are suffering the most.
Neither there are steps being taken for paving the way to development that could guarantee providence of basic requirements to the people; nor are there arrangements to guarantee their security. Government authorities mostly blame insecurity as a hurdle towards development and claim that most of their energies and funds are utilized to provide security to the people; therefore, the attentions cannot be focused on other areas. However, the facts and figures show a different picture – the security sector remains unattended as well and insecurity is rampant throughout the country. United Nations (UN) annual report released a couple of weeks earlier depicted that the number of Afghan civilians killed and wounded passed 11,000 in 2015 - the highest number recorded since the United States-led invasion more than 14 years ago. 
With the fighting season just starting, it was really encouraging news that there would be some development regarding the peace talks and there may be efforts directed towards a ceasefire in the coming months; however, the prospects of such a deal does not seem feasible now. Therefore, Afghan civilians need to get ready for another extensive fighting season. For Afghan security forces the challenges may increase as they have to face the insurgents with their limited resources. However, the most important point is that they must not lose heart and continue defending their country. The people as a whole must support them so that they are able to counter and defeat the insurgents. If Afghan security forces are able to defeat them substantially, Taliban will have no other option but to return to peace talks ultimately, even with less pride and more readiness.
At the same time Afghan government, as a top priority, needs to reach to a conclusive position regarding terrorism, if it wants to continue its journey towards a democratic and peaceful state. President Ashraf Ghani had clearly indicated that he is serious about the issue and has always called for a regional and global cooperation to eradicate terrorism. Nonetheless, it is more important that Afghanistan must have its strategy bold and clear regarding the issue and must follow the same through actions, not words alone, as there is no more time for words.