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A Taliban deal should ensure peace for Afghans: NATO envoy

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KABUL: Afghans deserve peace. No more indiscriminate IEDs which maim and kill innocent civilians, Nicholas Kay, NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan. Answering questions posed in twitter, he said that “no attacks on schools and mosques. The Taliban must end violence. It is time to focus on the future for all Afghans.”

He said that any deal will need to preserve the achievements of the past 18 years. “NATO supports US-Taliban talks. But this is only a first step. Real peace will come from an intra-Afghan agreement that preserves the rights and freedoms Afghans have enjoyed for the last 18 years.”

“Efforts to reduce violence will have an impact on lives of all Afghans, but specifics of an agreement will be for the parties to agree. We must be patient as these trust-building measures are worked out. We look forward to firm and credible guarantees from the Taliban for peace,” he added.

He furthered that NATO encourages all regional actors to play a constructive role in stabilizing the region. “Like all neighboring countries, Pakistan’s role in supporting the peace process will continue to be crucial.”

“Our presence is based on needs of the ANDSF and will be determined by our Allies and conditions on the ground. Violence has to reduce as a first step to make way for peace.”

He added, “We continue to encourage all regional actors to play a constructive role in helping to stabilize Afghanistan through an Afghan-led peace process. At the end of the day, a more secure Afghanistan contributes to regional stability.”

“2020 should be different: ANDSF are stronger; international and regional support for peace is solid; and some progress was made in 2019. NATO commitment remains strong,” he added.

“For years, Allies have expressed concern about Iran’s destabilizing activities, and we are united in condemning Iran’s support for variety of terrorist groups. NATO in Afghanistan continues important work training, advising and assisting ANDSF to help suppress int’l terrorism.”

NATO is working hard to support Afghans achieve a sustainable peace. “Clearly financial and military assistance will be needed for some time. Agreeing future security sector arrangements should be part of the peace process and Intra-Afghan negotiations.”

The Taliban understand that they will not win on the battlefield and have to negotiate a political settlement. However, that will require them to show real willingness to make serious compromises, he furthered.

We will continue to train, advise and assist the ANDSF as long necessary, based on the conditions on the ground, and in agreement with the Afghan government.

“A lot of progress has been made on Afghan peace in the last year and there is a momentum to build on in 2020. Hopefully we will see a US-Taliban deal that will lead to intra-Afghan negotiations laying the ground for durable peace benefiting all Afghans.”

He furthered; “A stable Afghanistan is in the interest of the wider region. Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace is crucial as it needs to live up to its expressed support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.”

We welcome all efforts towards a ceasefire/reduction in violence, he said, adding, “It is an integral part of building confidence between parties to the conflict. But it’s also something the Afghan people have been demanding for some time. Those demands must be finally met.”

NATO supports the US-Taliban talks. Germany, another Ally, has been very active in facilitating intra-Afghan dialogue. NATO welcomes these efforts, looking forward to seeing direct intra-Afghan negotiations that are Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, he added.

“Women’s and human rights must be respected for the Afghan peace to be durable. All Afghans should be able to contribute to peace.”

He said that NATO is not involved in the current talks but we support the US efforts and consult closely. This will open the way for intra-Afghan negotiations, in which Afghans will decide on the future of their country.

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