By Zia Nezam
Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have held hope for a peaceful, stable Afghanistan. However, can there be hope as violence continues across Afghanistan? Anti-government attacks against the Afghan people have increased fifty percent in the third quarter of 2020, according to SIGAR (The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction). Sadly, too, Afghanistan has replaced Syria as the least peaceful country in the world, one reads in the Global Peace Index from the Institute for Economics and Peace, of Sydney, Australia. In plain words, Afghanistan’s national condition is worse than that of Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia. Afghanistan has become the Hell of Hells, caused by terrorist activities.
The persistent violence until now clearly shows that the Taliban has no commitment to pursue peace. The intentional killing of civilians starkly reveals that the Taliban’s goal is not peace, but capitulation. Who does not comprehend this? Taliban forces create chaos and instability and set the stage for other terrorist groups to kill Afghan innocents. Yet, those who strive for a peaceful, modern united Afghanistan have not caved; the Taliban cannot take over Afghanistan by force. The Taliban are reduced to a bloody, prolonged war of attrition – which they cannot be allowed to win.
A generation has grown since 1996 when the Taliban took power. A generation that has seen a burgeoning new nation with a young democratic system. Substantial development with a view to embedding a functioning democracy has taken place. Positive outcomes in diverse economic sectors and society can be seen throughout Afghanistan. Defending Afghanistan’s new national life is our security force. Tremendous sacrifices have been made bearing the burden of defense to give Afghans a better life. They have fought and died every day preserve the values that the Taliban abhor: the exposure to ideas, the education and empowerment of women and men, the movement toward democracy, etc.
With freedom of the press have come courageous journalists, who daily risk their lives defending democratic values. The security forces, the millions of educated people in the last nearly 20 years since the Taliban were overthrown, and our media, like a rampart, makes Afghanistan impossible to be taken control of by the still un-reformed Taliban. There can be no repeat of Taliban’s bloody backwardness. In plain words memorialized on a peace agreement, the Taliban must accept actual majority rule, fair elections, and modern government institutions. The Afghan people will not let its representatives settle for anything less.
Two decades into the 21st century, all Afghans should want peace and prosperity for all who live in our beloved land. Right-minded Afghans reject Afghanistan being the base for any violent global movements or becoming a closed, backward-looking ideological dictatorship. If we allow the Taliban to re-integrate into Afghan society – and not continue living on the fringes, they must accept compromises. All Afghans must be allowed to live with dignity and to participate in any future regime without the exclusion of women, the majority of the population. Likewise, all minority groups based on religion, ethnicity, or language must be respected. Our inclusive 21st century regimes must continue being republican
We know Afghanistan faces continuing terrorist threats from externally supported insurgencies. Moreover, our region has currently the highest regional concentration of terrorist groups in the world. This makes for instability and continuing misery for us all, and any successive elected administration must seek to address these dangers and extinguish any threats to Afghan sovereignty. We have five million Afghan refugees and internally displaced people, a daunting number of handicapped citizens, and difficult population needs to solve. However, knowing all that, we Afghans believe that with an honorable peace agreement that accepts the forward-looking Afghanistan of 2020, we could create a viable nation that serves us all.