Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Afghans’ Concern over US-Taliban Peace Agreement

Afghans’ Concern over US-Taliban Peace Agreement
The Taliban and US representatives have resumed negotiations in Qatar’s capital on finding a peaceful solution to the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. The US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted that “now the priority must be an honorable and lasting peace and sovereign and united Afghanistan at peace with itself and posing no threat to any other country”.
The withdrawal of US forces and a commitment by the Taliban that Afghanistan will not be used as a launch pad for global attacks have been discussed between the two sides. Taliban chief spokesperson Suhail Shaheen is cited as saying, “We have an agreement on a time frame for the withdrawal. Discussions are now focused on its implementation mechanism”.
The Taliban, who have refused so far to negotiate with the Ghani administration, say that they would sit for an “intra-Afghan dialogue” as part-II of the overall peace agreement once they reached an agreement with the US on troop pullout time frame. Taliban say they recognize the Afghan government as a key player only.
Afghans are concerned about the content of the US-Taliban agreement which is supposed to be signed. The public believe that a hasty withdrawal will jeopardize Afghanistan’s gains within the past 18 years and will put the civil and human rights of individuals and their freedoms at stake.
“A hasty process that creates an impression of Taliban strength, and US and Afghan government weakness, risks triggering a cascade where even forces that loathe the Taliban shift to their side because it appears that they will come out on top, and it does not pay to be aligned with losers,” wrote Dr. William Maley, a professor at the Australian National University, in his commentary titled “Caution Rather Than Haste Needed in the Afghanistan Process”. 
The talks between the US and Taliban representatives are ongoing behind closed doors and Afghans have no idea about the content of the agreement. Afghanistan’ achievements and women’s rights under the nascent democracy have been the main concern of people since the Taliban rank and file militants still practice radical ideology.
With this in mind, President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani asserted that his administration would see the final draft of a US-Taliban agreement for a “comprehensive discussion” before it was signed.
The content of the draft should be released to Afghan people before being signed between the Taliban and US negotiators so that they be assured that the past achievements will not be jeopardized and the Taliban will be integrated into the Afghan government with moderated idea. The Taliban should assure that they will not act against women’s rights and freedoms and will respect the democratic achievements. A referendum should be conducted whether Afghan people demand a democratic state or Islamic Emirate. In short, Afghan people should have part in the agreement since their fate is being discussed.
Disregarding the role of Afghan people in the talks is really outrageous. In the intra-Afghan dialogue, the controversial issues should be resolved through public referendum. That is, the Taliban should not impose their own will on Afghan people.
Afghans believe that the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban played a destructive role in the past and harmed Afghanistan socially, politically, and economically. The Taliban regime brought nothing to Afghanistan except for violence and destruction. After killing thousands of people and destroying the country, it is really brazen of the Taliban to push for establishing an Islamic Emirate.
Overall, at least four issues should be considered in the agreement with the Taliban. First, the role of the Afghan state and nation should not be disregarded. The US should not only consider the interests and safety of the American people but also those of Afghanistan.
Second, it should be noted that a hasty withdrawal is likely to lead to horrible consequences and the issue of Iraq will be repeated in Afghanistan.
Third, the Taliban should pledge that they will not campaign against the past gains, namely the women’s rights and liberty and Afghan constitution. If the Taliban return with their radical ideology, the “blood” and “treasure” invested in Afghanistan will be undone.
Forth, the Taliban should disarm their rank and file militants or integrate them into Afghan national police. Their militants should be trained by government officials and learn basic legal principles. Meanwhile, it is recommended that the Taliban war criminals should be brought to justice.
Peace agreement is supposed to put an end to the conflict, safeguard past achievements, and lead to prosperity – these should be regarded at the negotiating table.