Ceasefire essential to nurture Afghan peace

The head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation says negotiators would discuss a reduction in violence when they meet with Taliban representatives. Addressing media in Doha, Dr. Abdullah said: “One of the topmost issues on the minds of the people is reduction in violence in a significant way … and also getting to … hopefully a permanent ceasefire,” he said adding it would be one of the first issues discussed when negotiators met.
Despite peace talks having started in Doha between the Afghan government and Taliban, violence continues around the country. On Sunday morning the Taliban fighters had attacked a police checkpoint in the Shinwari area on the outskirts of Kunduz city. According to local officials, once air support arrived, the Taliban retreated.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, as historic peace talks got underway, fighting was reported in 18 provinces across Afghanistan.  According to the Ministry of National Defense, the majority of attacks were reported in Uruzgan, Herat, Jawzjan, Ghazni, Balkh, Ghor and Faryab.
Calls for a reduction in violence have been at the heart of messages these past few days from the Afghan people, government and foreign organizations and countries.  One such message on Saturday was from the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dr. Yusuf bin Ahmed Al-Uthaimin.
He “renewed his appeal to negotiators and all leaders and parties in Afghanistan to work together to seize this historic opportunity for an urgent and lasting cessation of fighting and violence and to adhere to constructive dialogue to reach comprehensive reconciliation and lasting peace within the framework of the peace process that Afghanistan has.”
NATO, in turn, stated Saturday: “Current violence levels – driven by Taliban attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces – remain unacceptably high and undermine confidence in the peace process. We call on the Taliban to take decisive steps toward ending violence.”
The continued war and bloodshed have inflicted heavy financial and human loses in the country, and forced million others to migrate to other countries. The violence not only destroyed the infrastructures, but also prevent implementation of the development projects in the war-torn country.
The opening of the intra-Afghan talks in Doha was a historic day for the war-suffered nation, as they are in dire need of peace and stability. Afghan participants from both sides and the international community emphasized on ceasefire to reach a negotiated settlement for the ongoing war.
Now it is the time for the Taliban to accept Afghans and international community’s calls for humanitarian ceasefire in the country. Killing innocent people in different parts of the country and then attending meetings, aiming to pursue peace won’t have legitimacy anymore, unless a sign for peace seen from the group.
Afghan government has fulfilled Taliban’s all demands for the start of intra-Afghan talks. Therefore, the group should not make any further excuses, rather set on the table with their Afghan fellows and reach to a solution for the lasting stability in Afghanistan.

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