Editorial

Taliban’s honesty in peace process essential

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s bold peace offer to the Taliban has aroused hopes of peace in the country torn by war for many years now. In a sweeping proposal made at the Kabul Process conference in February of 2018, President Ghani offered a ceasefire, the removal of sanctions, release of prisoners, the recognition of the Taliban as a political party, the conduct of fresh elections, and a review of the constitution. He also repeated his offer in March during a conference held at Tashkent. Launching the voter registration process in the middle of April, he again asked the Taliban to take part in the forthcoming district council and presidentials elections.
President Ghani has demonstrated remarkable boldness and vision for bringing about a positive shift in the structure of the ongoing conflict, however his offers yet to receive response from Taliban and the group intensified their militancy across the country and avoided any direct negotiations with the Afghan government.
In a conflict as long-drawn-out as that in Afghanistan, a ray of hope for peace, however dim, can arouse huge interest. President Ghani’s time and again peace offers have done just that. The conflict in Afghanistan over the past four decades has been so virulent that any peace plan gets trapped in domestic contradictions, regional rivalries, and the geopolitical ambitions of Pakistan’s security establishment. Ever since the Soviets marched into Afghanistan in 1979, the people of Afghanistan have not known peace.
Speaking recently at a debate on the sideline of the Munich Security Conference in Germany, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the conflict in Afghanistan was no longer American’s war because the US sacrifice in blood had been eliminated practically and in treasure reduced massively.
The president explained since 2015, American casualties in Afghanistan were 66, compared to over 2,500 in the past. The president again asked Taliban and their supporters to show their vision for Afghanistan and explain it to the people. “The people of Afghanistan will elect you, we will be delighted to turn power over to you.”
“Some of the Taliban imagine that they can go back to 1996, that is not a choice that today’s Afghanistan is going to buy in,” the President said, adding for the first time in history of Afghanistan, principle was chosen over power and the government of national unity was their first peace. “We avoided conflict, we showed that an inclusive political process is possible.”
The conflict in Afghanistan is multi-dimensional, involving Afghan, regional and global actors. Due to its inherent complexity, no single actor holds the key to resolving the crisis. Therefore, any peace process in Afghanistan is going to be long and difficult, and there will be plenty of room for skepticism that the process is going to falter.
As per the National Unity Government’s leaders, the fact remains that no side is going to win the war, and the only alternative to continuing bloodshed and instability is to make way for the peace process.
Taliban should know that only direct talks with Afghan government could result to lasting peace. Holding talks in Russia and Pakistan are no longer in the interest of Afghan nation but would serve the interest of neighboring countries and those willing destabilized Afghanistan.

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