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kabul
November 21, 2018
The Kabul Times

Regional consensus for peace in Afghanistan

The Moscow-format meeting on peace in Afghanistan will be held in Russian Federation’s capital Moscow on November 9, where representatives of both the Taliban and the Afghan government is said to take part in it. The meeting will host consultations on Afghanistan at the level of deputy foreign ministers and special envoys.
Meanwhile a government source on Sunday told media that a delegation of High Peace Council(HPC) would participate in peace talks.
Russia in August proposed holding multilateral peace talks in Moscow and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month.But the meeting was postponed after Afghanistan rejected the invitation on the ground, saying the talks with the Taliban should be led by the Afghan government.
In a statement on Saturday, Russia’s foreign ministry said it would be the first time that a delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Doha would attend such a high-level international meeting.Russia has invited several other countries including India, Iran, Pakistan, China and the United States to send their representatives to the conference.
Kabul has time and again insisted that the Afghan reconciliation process must be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,”. Afghanistan has cautiously welcomed efforts that may help initiate a genuine peace process involving the Taliban and that bring stability to the war-suffered nation.
In February 2018, when President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced a roadmap for peace, including a bold offer to recognize the Taliban as a political party in return for peace during the second Kabul Process Meeting, further political dialogues were held in Mecca, Tashkent, Jakarta, and elsewhere to support the Afghan government’s peace efforts.
These efforts indicate Afghanistan’s realization of the importance of creating an international consensus on peace-making in the country and bringing the Taliban into the political fold. However, parallel processes that seek different outcomes for short-term gains can be counter productive.
Moscow’s recent efforts can be useful when are well defined and are held in close coordination with Afghanistan and the United States and its allies. Engaging with the Taliban for humanitarian causes and the initiating of a peace process is inevitable. Nonetheless, contacts that can embolden and disincentive the group to come the negotiating table goes against the stabilization needs of Afghanistan and would further deteriorate the situation on the ground.
Recent peace-making efforts must meet Afghanistan’s needs, which include initiating negotiations, achieving a political solution, and ultimately peace, and then maintaining that peace. This entails encouraging the Taliban to the negotiating table without undermining the Afghan government’s legitimacy.
Terrorism remains the biggest “collective” challenge in the region and as a frontline state, Afghanistan bears the bulk of the burden in the fight against terrorism and extremism. 
Achieving sustainable peace in Afghanistan is complicated, which needs national, regional and global consensus coupled with pushing Taliban for talks or defeating them, in the battlefield and employing a sustainable working multi-dimensional foreign policy.

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