The Kabul Times.
Editorial

Any peace deal threatening achievements should be prevented

In a country ravaged by four decades of war, peace is a precious phenomenon. Here in Afghanistan, where an entire generation has known nothing but conflict, violence and instability, whatever peace remains is fragile.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who arrived in Kabul for an unannounced visit on Tuesday said that he hopes that Afghanistan will achieve a peace deal ahead of the Presidential Elections – scheduled for September 28.
“I hope we have a peace deal before September 1st. That’s certainly our mission,” he said.  In his visit to Kabul, Pompeo held talks with Afghan leaders. He said that in his meetings with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, they agreed that peace is their highest priority and that Afghanistan must never serve as a platform for international terrorism.
“Simultaneously, the United States is laying the ground force for intra-Afghan negotiations to begin as soon as possible. Objective of those negotiations is for Afghans to agree on a timeline and a political roadmap for reaching a comprehensive peace agreement,” he added.
The Afghan peace negotiations, some experts have argued, are at their “most advanced stage” since 2001. In January 2019, the United States, led by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, first engaged in talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. The United States and Taliban agreed in principle to the framework of a peace deal. The core components of such a deal have been envisioned as the United States withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban “pledging” that terror groups would never use Afghan territory to stage attacks.
Afghanistan and international community have achieved a lot in last eighteen years. As a result, Afghanistan and international community must do whatever they can to preserve these gains. For Afghans, democracies, freedom of expression, freedom of media, human rights and women’s and girl’s rights are the main achievements that need to be preserved. To realize this, it is necessary to create a single source for peace negotiations to centralize peace talks and represent the voices of the Afghans in a unified manner. The way Afghans in general and Afghan politicians in specific, act to support and maintain such a single source shapes the fate of the country determines not to return to the dark days of the past.
Afghan government has already taken some initiatives to form such a unified source. Meetings of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with a number of political figures and former jihadi leaders and consulting the peace process, has been one of the main steps toward this end. The meetings have been held to receive their views regarding the ongoing peace negotiations and they stressed with one voice on lasting peace in the country.
Afghan peace talks have entered a crucial phase. International community and Afghanistan government and people, men and women have worked hard and have gained a lot, especially the women. These achievements should not be stepped on in the Intra-Afghan talks.
Despite of ongoing peace efforts, Taliban had threatened to target media, which is one of the greatest achievements of the Afghan government and international community in last one and half decade.
Afghans shall prevent any peace deal with Taliban that threaten the achievements and rights of the citizens, including the rights of journalists and women in the country.

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The Kabul Times.