Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 20th, 2019

The complexities of Afghan peace talks: Is peace worth Fighting for?

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The complexities of Afghan peace talks:  Is peace worth Fighting for?

The beginning of peace negotiation process in Afghanistan has awakened hope of better days in Afghans’ hearts: days in which no mother will be worried whether her kids will return home safely, and families will not mourn the loss of their loved ones. For a common Afghan, who spent most of the years of their life in conflict, peace means a life without suicide-attacks, explosions and gunfire. While every Afghan is fond of a peaceful Afghanistan, there are two stance points related to current peace talks: there are those who want the peace negotiation to be successful and those who think peace with the group that had been violating human rights for decades is itself a human rights violation. It is an undeniable fact that Taliban, during the five years of the Islamic Emirate and after being overthrown by the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, until now had been violating human rights. But, looking into the history of conflict resolution in other countries, it can be claimed that that there is no other way to stop war.
For more than four decades, Afghans’ rights as human beings had been violated by all the actors involved in the conflict: from international actors, such as Russia, the United States and Afghanistan’s neighbor countries, to national warlords who not only took thousands of lives but also facilitate foreign interventions in the country. Millions of Afghans were forced to flee their homes due to war, violence and persecution. The majority of the population, especially women, were deprived of education. The U.S intervention and the formation of new Afghan government in 2001 could not end the conflict in the country; it was the inception of another tough battle for Afghans. This battle made both sides of the conflict tired enough to agree on the negotiation. 
The unprecedented gathering of some high-ranking Afghan politicians and Taliban in Moscow, as well as demands of Taliban delegation as their conditions for peace, has concerned human rights advocates, who believe peace process should not be at the cost of human rights. Although human rights practitioners and peace building advocates have different strategies regarding conflict resolution, in the short run, both seek to end violence and minimize suffering of people. In the long run, however, both set of practitioners have different ways for achieving their goals, making sure that violence does not recur and that every individual right is being respected regardless of the person’s race, gender, religion and ideology. Whereas all instances of peace building illustrate some levels of tensions between human rights and peace building practitioners, both concepts complement each other historically and politically.
The aim of conflict resolution is to attain a negotiated settlement for peace with minimum loss of lives, in itself an attempt to end human rights violations. On the other hand, human rights advocates practicing human rights law are ensuring a peaceful society for people. Both concepts share long-term and short-term dilemma:  as conflicts resolvers seek to end the conflict and ensure a peaceful future, they ignore the aspects of transparency and accountability in the process, while human rights advocates, focusing on short-term goals that are prosecution of human rights violators, pay less attention to long-term solutions. That is the reason many conflict-affected countries chose the long-term solution, which is making peace with the opposition. Colombian peace process is an example of recent conflict resolution in the world. The country reached a peace agreement with FARC guerrilla movement in 2016, after six years of continuous negotiations. Colombia ended a conflict that lasted five decades and killed 267,000 people, 82% of whom were civilians.
It is an indisputable fact that the Afghans will not forget the suffering they endured due to the war they never wanted to be part of, nor is the blood of millions of innocent people forgivable. But, if these peace talks can reach an agreement that would stop the war and save thousands of lives, then why not? Last two decades of fighting of Afghan government with Taliban is pointing to the fact that our political institution is not strong enough to eradicate Taliban from the country, as Taliban is not only a group but an ideology as well. Moreover, relying on American troops to fight the battle for us is also not a rational expectation. First, while fighting Taliban, the foreign troops not only failed but also caused thousands of civilians to lose their lives. Second, the U.S government is not interested in investing more in Afghanistan’s war. It is worth mentioning that, looking from human rights perspective, Afghanistan could not prosecute other actors involved in the war; many of those warlords who violated human rights are living a respectable life of luxury in the country without even apologizing for their actions. This does not imply that because other warlords have not been prosecuted, Taliban leaders are also entitled to amnesty. Ultimately, Afghan government and the international community overlooking past actions of warlords allowed them to be part of the Afghan government in order to prevent chaos and to ensure peace in the country.
Nonetheless, reaching a consensual agreement in peace negotiations requires time, patience, flexibility and honest effort from both sides. In the case of Afghanistan, it is even more complicated since there is no agreement about who should be leading the peace talks on behalf of Afghan government. Last but not least, common people play a crucial role in this process, as their commitment and enthusiasm toward peace have the ability to push both sides of the negotiation to reach an agreement that would grant a peaceful tomorrow for Afghans.

Neela Hassan, Communication and Developing MA student at Ohio University

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