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Abdullah, Taliban and peace negotiations

The government has long been stressing in the strongest, and ongoing, terms that the Taliban and foreign terrorists, in Afghanistan have been causing deaths, chaos and dire straits for the Afghan people. It has resulted in the deaths of thousands of thousands and countless refugees, homeless at home, and injured. This is the reason the government has always hankered after peace dialogue, but the coldblooded Taliban have looked the other way. Calling upon the Taliban to make their standpoint clear on peace parlays, the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said fighting and peace negotiations cannot go together. In his Ramadan message, Abudllah, called on the Taliban to stop killing innocent Afghan citizens. In the recent months there have been winded media reports about informal peace talks between the government and the Taliban representatives. These talks are held in Qatar, China and Norway. There were formal talks during the ex-president Hamid Karzai’s government. Now the government has informal talks with them. It means the talks have fallen from formal to informal. Yes despite that the peace talks’ environment is being painted as if they are better than those previously held. Ex-President Karzai’s angry reaction, suspending US-Afghan negotiations on post-2014 security arrangements and his refusal to participate in any peace process with the Taliban until there is Afghan leadership of such talks highlights what he wanted of peace talks—Afghan led. There are inherent difficulties in bringing all the relevant parties together in a meaningful dialogue process, and the current government’s efforts for peace dialogues are worth appreciation. However, it doesn’t have a clear policy and approach. The Taliban too are just fiddling around and doesn’t look serious in peace talks. The too many talks venues make it a bit troublesome to know what address is more influential. The ex-government had clearly boycotted US-Taliban peace negotiations, however, who will call the shots now and decide on the future of Afghanistan and the fate of peace talks? Does the current government has the capacity to drive the peace process while standing firmly on ground or it is thinking it’s murky approach will work out? The current government looks to be too much inclined towards Pakistan, which sometimes puts President Ashraf Ghani in an awkward situation at home. Though, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pledged Saturday that Afghanistan will maintain balance in its relations with Pakistan and India, which is really welcoming and worth commending because non-alignment is the need of the hour. The government must take into account that since peace is the need of the people and it must be Afghans to decide their future. Though, it wouldn’t be any rationalism if Kabul deny the US, Pakistan, and China remain key player in the process, however, what is missing is clarity not only on the part of the government but also on the part of the Taliban. Afghan leadership and ownership of the process is a must as it will be Afghans who will have to live under any settlement that might be conceded to therefore no settlement must be accepted that damages this people, who has been bearing the brunt of the war while staying calm and content in the wait that one day there will be peace. Any weak peace deal means betrayal of this nation’s peace aspirations. Therefore, the government must cling to Afghan leadership and ownership of the peace process. What makes us confident is China has bought this idea and stressed that the peace process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

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