Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Agreement in Doha but Disagreements in Kabul

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Agreement in Doha but  Disagreements in Kabul

This is several times when the peace talks between the US envoys and the Taliban progress in Doha, the divergence of opinions intensifies in Kabul. This time, it has intensified when recently a report was released by Taliban sources saying that after a month of intra-group consultation, the current Taliban leader has agreed to reduce the violence, rather than a truce. It also followed by expression of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi saying in a video message last week that the Taliban had expressed readiness to reduce violence in Afghanistan.  The Pakistani foreign minister had also mentioned the Taliban’s violence reduction plan is a positive step towards peace in Afghanistan.
Many of the government officials including the Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, Amrullah Salih, Abdul-Salam Rahimi and the rest of Afghan people stress on ceasefire, preservation of democratic values and past achievements but some of other political personalities such as former president Hamid Karzai had a positive position regarding violence reduction calling it in interest of the country. Karzai and Hanif Atmar have both said that overemphasis on a cease-fire would prevent inter-Afghan talks. However, Atmar has more emphasized on internal consensus with calling international community to make the agreement with Taliban conditional to talks with the Afghanistan government. Accordingly, there were also other political figures who insist on forming a national consensus on peace and urge the United States to make the agreement with the Taliban conditional on the group’s talks with the Afghan government. But Dr. Abdullah, the chief executive officer, said that the decision about peace and process is beyond the ability of one person or one ministry.
Meanwhile, the president Ashraf Ghani has mentioned the ceasefire as a precondition for the start of intra-Afghan talks and has farther said that without a ceasefire, the peace process would not be successful. However, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghan peace talks, had earlier said there would be no agreement between the US and Taliban unless Taliban fulfill three conditions. Firstly, Taliban should provide a credible assurance that Afghan soil would not become a safe haven for terrorists; Secondly, Taliban should agree on ceasefire; thirdly, Taliban should start direct talks with the Afghan government. In case of having any new positions, Mr Khalilzad has not made any expressions after the United States has officially suspended the talks with Taliban. Overall, it seems that majority of Afghan people stress on the same three points which mentioned by Khalilzad provided that he stays committed on his previous position in practice.
Despite all these differences there is one common point among all Afghan people which is unanimous demand for peace and put an end to senseless war. In fact, no one desires peace more than the people of Afghanistan, who have suffered so much, for so long. Thus, no Afghan individual wants to return to the dark Talibanic era.  Now, Afghan people understand that peace cannot merely mean the cessation of armed hostilities. For a peace process to be worthy of its name, it must not ignore Afghan voices – especially those of Afghan women – and their calls for justice, freedom, past achievement, accountability and so on which hardly achieved in last 19 years.  Therefore, any agreement between the US and Taliban and also government and Taliban must guarantee the human rights and democratic values which have been hardly achieved in last two decades.
Moreover, it is important for Afghan people how to maintain their authority and legitimacy in defending democracy and human rights values. Afghan people have always fought on building a democratic system based on the real will of the citizens and ensuring the highest national interests within the framework of social justice, freedom and equality. The people of Afghanistan do not want to lose their achievements made at the expense of shedding blood of thousands of young people in this land and do not want to easily victimize it for an unsustainable peace with the Taliban. Defending the national interests and national values are the duty and responsibility of all citizens, especially the Afghan government. Afghan people also expect to hear the result of election as soon as possible, and the IECC are highly expected to clearly and quickly announce the result of the presidential election.
Only a legitimate government can represent the people in peace negotiations and defend national interests and social values.  The dispersed individuals and groups are not able to represent the people in peace talks. The credibility and dignity of people depend on the strength, legitimacy and authority of the future government and its bargaining with Taliban. If we want to successfully cross the peace challenges, we must support a central and legitimate government. Opposing to the government and criticizing its policies and programs are useful and sometimes necessary, on condition that such opposition and criticism do not interrupt national process or important programs of the government.
The international allies must also realize that the only way out of the current situation is to strengthen the central government and support it in all national processes.  Weakening the central government and perambulate its will, will not lead to lasting peace and stability. Any negotiation with the armed opposition must be governed by the government and people of Afghanistan. Therefore, any processes which are organized outside the will of government and people will face negative reactions and are subject to failure.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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