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Politics

Former President hopeful for peace in Afghanistan

By: Monitoring Desk

KABUL – As the teams representing the Taliban and Afghan government negotiate in Doha, Qatar, on the future of their country, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai sat down with VOA to discuss the impact of the U.S. elections on those negotiations, the venue, and whether the talks have a chance of success. Parts of the interview have been excerpted by The Kabul Times monitoring Desk which is as follow:
Answering a question on how will the outcome of U.S. elections impact the Afghan peace process? Former President Karzai said: “I don’t think the outcome will have an impact that will deviate from the current process. There may be a difference in approaches or in the speed of things. But not on the overall objective of the United States for hopefully a settlement in Afghanistan and the reduction of their troops.”
Replying to another VOA query on President Trump’s recent tweet that the troops should be home by Christmas, he said: It did not. We know President Trump’s views on the conflict in Afghanistan and the U.S. involvement. He has been speaking fairly clearly, rather very clearly on the withdrawal of troops, on the significant reduction of troops if not the complete withdrawal of troops, and on bringing a settlement and on allowing Afghans to determine their own future, which we respect. That’s exactly what we should be doing.”
“The deal as far as it envisages an end to conflict in Afghanistan, an end to conflict in Afghanistan, an end to fratricide and Afghan killing, is wonderful. We want, not now, we want it to end yesterday. Whether the intention of the U.S. in Afghanistan is durable peace, and a settlement of Afghanistan is what we should see in the process.” The former president went on saying that: ”We want to be friends with all our neighbors. We also want to be friends with the U.S. We want a civilized relationship, a friendly relationship. We don’t want a relationship based on the export of extremism or radicalism to us. Having said this, the peace process that the U.S. is bringing, we see that it is in great coordination with Pakistan. We understand Pakistan’s role. But peace for us is one thing and a deal between the U.S. and Pakistan on us is a different issue. That we don’t want. That we will resist. It is these deals exactly, when the Soviet Union withdrew, between the U.S. and Pakistan that got us to the misery that we have today.”
Pointing to regional countries and their role, the former president said: “We very much hope that all our neighbors will participate and support the Afghan peace process. And that all our neighbors will take this opportunity to work with the U.S. and other neighbors, and major powers, Russia, China, India to be part of it in a very significant way, so that no country is left wondering as to what is going on. There should be no behind the scenes deals or schemes there. We want transparency. We don’t want Afghanistan to be a place of conflict of interest between countries. We don’t want Afghanistan to be a place of rivalry (of regional powers). That is why we have suffered. We want Afghanistan to be a place of cooperation. This is not an Afghan war or a war for Afghan interests. It is Afghans being killed for larger foreign objectives.” Answering another question on how he breaks the current deadlock in Doha? He said: “When we went to Moscow last year, it was the same Taliban, the same delegation almost, the same leadership, and we had no issues. We sat down and we talked. If the intention in the U.S. is for peace in Afghanistan these talks will succeed, I have no doubt. And if the intention in Pakistan, together with the U.S. is for peace in Afghanistan, these talks will succeed. And we welcome it.”
Talking on whether Taliban changed and that they are different from the 90s, Karzai said: “The Taliban are Afghans. They have suffered as much as the rest of Afghans have suffered. They’ve also lost their children, they’ve also lost their homes, they’ve also been bombed and bombarded, their homes raided. They’ve suffered like we have suffered. So, the suffering belongs to all the Afghan people, Taliban and others. It is this recognition that is there in all of us.”
Pointing to future structure of the government, he said: ”Right now, the priority for both sides should be to bring the violence against the Afghan people to an immediate end. As to the future form of government or the structure of the state, that is then the decision of the Afghan people, the collective decision of the Afghan people, the Taliban and other Afghans.”
Concluding his words on whether he was hopeful for the peace process, former president said: Absolutely. We are fully behind this process initiated by the U.S. and we very much hope that the U.S. will be conducting the process transparently and in full consultation with all the powers that have a stake in peace in Afghanistan and the region. That will be the way to succeed. Of course, the U.S. has to work with Pakistan. We welcome that. We recognize this necessity, but we also must warn of our fears. Peace is one thing and a deal between Pakistan and America on Afghanistan is another thing. A good deal is welcome. We have love for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. But for the establishment in Pakistan, I hope they have recognized that the future will be one of civilized relationship, not one of the use of extremism against our country.

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