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Afghans scramble for Kabul-Taliban peace dialogue

AT News

KABUL: Hundreds of people in Ghor and Herat have called in droves for a swift start of the long-awaited negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban – expected to take place after a US-Taliban peace deal aimed at ending conflict in the country.

There have been eleven rounds of US negotiators with the Taliban in the Gulf state of Qatar to broker a peace deal expected to eventually open the way for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan and pave the way for an Afghan delegation to sit together with the Taliban and discuss a way forward.

Afghan people and activists in villages and cities – over the past weeks – have ratcheted up their calls through gatherings and social media platforms have been calling for a start of intra-Afghan peace talks. 

The participants of gatherings in Ghor and Herat–who have faced a rise in conflict in their provinces since last summer – said the bloodshed should end as it sacrifices only Afghans.

The Ghor gathering was attended by hundreds of people, according to multiple attendants of the event, who commemorated the first anniversary of the death of Mohammad Ibrahim Malikzada, a Ghor lawmaker who passed away due to an illness in February 2019.

“Peace is the only solution to Afghanistan’s problems,” said Ramazan Akhundzada, head of the Hajj and Religious Affairs Directorate of Ghor. “We call on the Afghan government, the warring sides and armed militants to address the people’s demand for peace.”

Some religious scholars in the gathering called the ongoing war illegitimate and asked the warring sides to end their hostility. “The two sides of the war are Muslims… In some cases, they are buried together in one place,” said Abdul Bari Qanit, a religious scholar.

The negotiations have been hitting delays in past weeks because of the new demands raised by the US representatives in Doha who want a commitment from the Taliban for a long-term reduction in violence or ceasefire. Also, there is much disagreement in Kabul about which delegates and what plan should be offered from the Afghan side in the coming intra-Afghan talks.

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