The turn of the year and decade from 2019 to 2020 will hopefully open up a new chapter for Afghanistan in terms of peace, political stability and development. The progress made in 2019 in terms of the Afghan peace process and other areas is going to carry on to 2020, by the end of which the promising trajectory of peace talks will finally culminate with positive results. According to reports, the US and Taliban negotiators have agreed upon a weeklong ceasefire in order to build trust and pave way for a peace deal – with specific details in this regard not shared as of yet. But it was hinted that the truce would most likely take place in the early days of this month. Meanwhile, the final returns of the last year’s presidential polls will also be most likely due by the end of January. Among reaching a potential peace and having a new president for another five- year term without a political turmoil, Afghans hope for a fruitful year full of achievements and developments as well.
The heavy snowfall across almost half of Afghanistan on the first day of the New Year is a good omen for Afghanistan. The snow ended a dry spell and helped mitigate the harmful effects of the deadly air pollution which has been ailing the Kabul residents for the past few weeks as the unbreathable air killed 17 people. Bringing a broad smile on their faces, the Afghan masses and farmers welcomed the snow and called it a blessing. It means this year would prove prolific for Afghanistan in terms of agricultural production even though there might be some issues of floods and hazards to vulnerable Afghans’ homes. But the benefits outweigh the risks in this regard. As the precipitation augurs well for Afghanistan and its people, there is hope the international community would accompany them throughout the year and beyond. This is while the United Nations has said it needed $733 million in humanitarian relief to vulnerable Afghans during the current year. Planning to reach out to 7.1 million needy Afghans, the world body urged continued and generous support from the international fraternity. This demand should be paid proper heed not only in the humanitarian sphere but also in the fight against corruption and global terrorism, in whose vanguard stands Afghanistan. Reduction in violence along with an end to the war in the wake of peace with the Taliban; having a stable government with a legitimate president; and the inauguration of infrastructural development projects are some of the many expectations of the war-weary Afghans this year. However, in the first step to all this, the top priority is still the facilitation of a national dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan political elites and masses in order to achieve a dignified, just and sustainable peace.