Peace; most significant issue for Afghanistan, UN

By: Suraya Raiszada

Tadamichi Yamamoto, chief of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN General-Secretary’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, in his recent remarks, has said: “Peace is crucial for the future of Afghanistan” and “I welcome the efforts made by the people of Afghanistan and other key actors to make progress and realize direct intra-Afghan talks.”
Identifying challenges with the peace process, Yamamato affirmed that “the United Nations remains committed to supporting an inclusive Afghan-led process that upholds the human rights of all citizens and leads to sustainable peace.”
He expressed extreme sadness at civilian casualties “recently surpassing 100,000 in the past 10 years alone,” and said he told the Security Council last week that “whatever the outcome of the presidential election may be, peace will be the issue of paramount importance to the new administration.”
Reiterating a UN statement, Yamamoto called on “everyone to raise their voices for peace, and for all stakeholders to make genuine and concrete steps toward ending the war, as there can be no military solution to the conflict in this country.”
Yamamoto expressed importance of inclusive talks: “The United Nations maintains that intra-Afghan talks which include women and youth are essential for an Afghan-owned peace process and are fundamental to all ongoing peace efforts.”
He further said that the UN “urges all stakeholders to seek ways to reduce levels of violence, especially the violence which harms civilians, on the way to a lasting political settlement and a permanent ceasefire. Implementing a reduction of violence is also important in creating an environment which enables constructive intra-Afghan talks on peace to take place.”
In recent weeks, efforts have increased for maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan as US delegates led by Zalmay Khalilzad and negotiators of the Taliban group resumed peace talks in Doha, capital city of Qatar.
A number of Afghan political experts believe that no peace talks will give positive results if followed without presence of Afghanistan government. “Regional countries are making effort to play role in Afghanistan peace process, but no peace talks or process will give positive results if held without presence of Afghans,” said Ahmad Sayeedi, an Afghan political expert. He added that one of the most significant debates inside and outside of the country was the issue of peace, saying that there has been no considerable result of effort made by Afghanistan government and international community towards maintaining peace and stability in the country in recent years.
According to sources, the date for the signing of a peace agreement between the US and the Taliban will be announced within the next few days and then both sides will start discussions about intra-Afghan talks. During the forthcoming round of talks between the US and the Taliban, both sides will establish a timeline for signing the peace agreement and starting the intra-Afghan talks.
On December 19, the US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said that the US and Taliban were approaching an important stage in the Afghan peace process. Nevertheless, Afghanistan government is stressing on ceasefire before starting any direct talks with the Taliban group. 

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