Editorial

Only Afghans can decide on peace

As the direct talks between the United States and the Taliban further opened the door for peace in Afghanistan, success will ultimately depend on aligning such efforts with those led by the Afghan people.
According to media reports, the U.S. and Taliban negotiators reached a draft peace framework after two weeks of talks in Qatar. Based on the agreement, the Taliban would be required to deny safe haven to international terrorist groups like al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. In exchange, the United States would withdraw forces from Afghanistan.
US officials saying that the agreement was aimed to push Taliban for direct talks with Kabul and, at the same time, agree to a ceasefire. Details of the U.S.-Taliban draft framework, including whether it contains assurances about the rights of Afghans, in particular thewomen or minorities, have not been disclosed, nor have the terms of monitoring and verification, which would be part of any final agreement.
The fact that the United States and the Taliban reached the framework without the direct participation of the Afghan government has stoked controversy. The Afghan government has long asserted that all peace talks must be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,”. Now the next test will be whether and how the Afghan government become core actors in the dialogue.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials prepare for consultative Loya Jirga to achieve a national consensus and believe that only an intra-Afghan peace talks will bear the desired result.
Generally, peace in Afghanistan is in the best interests of all countries in the region and beyond. The ongoing conflict serves no one’s interests and destabilizes the entire region. A peaceful Afghanistan would offer economic opportunities for neighboring countries in the form of business, trade and serving as an energy corridor between Central and South Asia.
But a rush decision shouldn’t be made on peace in Afghanistan, rather the US should consult shareeachand every step of the process with the Afghan government as the only legitimate system, elected by the votes of millions of Afghan people and representing all strata of the society.
Afghans are optimistic about the US efforts for peace in Afghanistan. Any formal deal between the US and the Taliban would be indeed an important step and would lay the foundation for a comprehensive peace settlement as well as would ease direct talks between government and the Taliban.
Butthe US and Taliban cannot decide on Afghanistan future ifthe Afghan government would not be part of the negotiations. It is time for Taliban to their true commitment to peace by responding to the aspirations of millions of Afghans, who have been eagerly waiting such a day for the past four decades.
Meanwhile, deciding on all relevant issues including war and peace is the monopoly of the Afghan government. No one can ignore the ownership right of the Afghan government on peace efforts and talks and making peace with Taliban.
Otherwise this would strongly damage the trust of the Afghan people to the international community and confuses public opinion and sincerity of global commitments. No reason can be seen to marginalize the Afghan government from this vital issue.

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