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An exclusive interview with Daud Ali Najafi; Govt. in limbo over peace push

KABUL: The process of peace negotiations has been dominating the political space for more than six months, with political figures and parties making efforts to play a role in the negotiations on behalf of the people of Afghanistan. But what seems to be hindering before the peace process, is a political game played by the government, which tries to manage this national process in its own interests and for its survival.

The Afghanistan Times and Dunya media group has recently launched a series of interviews with the country’s politicians discussing important national issues such as peace process and elections.

Today, we are sitting with a prominent politician Mr. Daud Ali Najafi. Mr. Najafi has the posts of minister for transportation and civil aviation as well as head of the Independent Election Commission’s secretariat in his background.

He was one of Afghan politicians who participated in a February intra-Afghan meeting held in Moscow.

Mr. Najafi told us that the country’s political situation is very sensitive, calling on the political leaders to get a great national consensus and understanding. “Otherwise, our people and political system will suffer a great loss.”

“The government unfortunately has not realized its duty and responsibility regarding peace. Thus, the government itself is the main obstacle before peace process,” Najafi said, adding that the government thinks it will no longer survive if peace is achieved and that it will lose its five-year power. “This is still unclear, but the interpretation comes as responsible government give priority to peace and they do not spare sacrifices to reach peace.

“Government’s failure in realizing its responsibility caused it be left from the peace process. Now, people and political leaders will never wait for the government and they will run peace process ahead, because Arg (presidential office) has proved it cannot represent the people.”

Pointing to the issue that Taliban do not want to hold direct talks with the government, the political figure said that government can join the peace negotiation delegates in the framework of peace commission and Taliban would accept. Najafi added that government still doesn’t want to be with the people of Afghanistan under these circumstances. “Here, we see that the government is making trouble in the peace process,” he said.

Najafi is optimistic to meetings held for peace like the meeting held previously in Moscow, saying that Moscow meeting was different from other sessions because it was the first-ever intra-Afghan session where Taliban sat with a large number of the people’s representatives and Afghan political leaders.

He called intra-Afghan negotiations the “best channel” to run peace talks, arguing that such meetings include parties involved in the peace process who are people’s political representatives. “We all held the Moscow meeting under the name and flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that explained the soul of coherence in the process of peace negotiations without the presence or interference from any foreign representatives.

“First of all, we Afghans need to reach an understanding with each other and then, work for our common will on implementing of commitments and wills with the foreigners,” said the former government official.

Najafi rejects relying on foreign powers as they would never guarantee for Afghans, criticizing negotiations between Taliban and the United States. “Foreigners have to first hold talks with the leaders and political representatives of Afghan people. Then they can discuss peace process with other parties. The incuriosity against Afghan politicians has provided Taliban with credit and reputation in the peace negotiations that we oppose with.”

Najafi touched elections, saying that nothing can replace polls, but the government’s treat with the voting is political. “In this case, we first need to work for peace so through that, people’s authority and sovereignty be fulfilled in their national programs. “We can then make steps toward national programs like elections with forming an inclusive mechanism,” said Najafi, who slams government’s act in dismissing and appointing electoral commissioners against legal rules that cannot represent people of Afghanistan. “We can never trust and be confident to such acts,” Najafi concluded.

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