Addressing a UN Security Council Open VTC (videoconference) the other day, Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, called for a humanitarian ceasefire. The conference was held as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban prepare to begin talks in Doha this week aimed at ending the deadly conflict that has gripped the nation for the past two decades.
UN envoy highlighted urgent issues related to peace, human rights, and the humanitarian situation, as well as other pressing issues, stating that a humanitarian ceasefire was crucial to ensure that relief efforts can be conducted.
“I want to emphasize again the importance of the humanitarian ceasefire. This is a win-win for both parties to the peace talks and it is clearly a win for the Afghan people. We all need to be raising our voices to focus on the need for a humanitarian ceasefire,” said Lyons. She explained that a humanitarian ceasefire is not permanent but intended to allow civilian populations caught in the fighting to receive care. She said Afghanistan is closer than ever before to peace and spoilers must not be allowed to damage the process.
Indeed, Afghan people are waiting for ceasefire and end of devastating conflicts in their country. They expect officials and political leaders to put their weight behind the start and fruition of intra-Afghan talks. With this in mind, Afghans called on the Taliban several times to declare ceasefire and negotiate with the Afghan government to find a negotiated solution to the four decades-long war and bloodshed in the country.
Taliban should show flexibility to the demands of their Afghan interlocutors and stop persisting only on their own demands. That is, there is give-and-take in the peace talks and both sides have to be logical. If the Afghan government is ready to declare truce, why the Taliban group refuses to announce ceasefire? Continued war and bloodshed would bear no positive result, rather would further destroy the country and the Afghan civilians would continue to bear the brunt of war.
It is really hard for Afghans to accept a group of terrorists, which was involved in killings and destruction, hold power within the government rather than being prosecuted for their criminal acts. However, on the other hand, their marginalization is likely to lead to further casualties and destruction.
With this in mind, Afghan representatives consented to the release of Taliban’s prisoners with preconditions, which include protecting human rights and freedoms, respecting constitutional principles, and safeguarding democratic values. In other words, the Taliban should not seek to impose their warped mind on people or establish their sharia-based emirate.
Afghan representatives in last Loya Jirga called the Taliban to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, declare immediate and permanent ceasefire, and the released prisoners do not return to the battlefields, however according to media reports, 60 percent of released Taliban prisoners returned back to the battlefields.
The people of Afghanistan expect the negotiating sides not to hold the talks behind closed doors and the voice of public should not fall on deaf ears. That is to say, the concerns of Afghan people – who paid heavy sacrifices within the last two decades for the establishment and empowerment of democracy – should be addressed in the intra-Afghan talks and a lasting ceasefire should be established so that to prevent further harm to the war-suffered Afghan nation.