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Editorial: All is not lost

Fighting continues in the 18-year-old Afghanistan war while peace remains elusive ever since the US earlier in September withdrew from a year-long series of talks with the Taliban whose main component was sealing a truce – which the parties into conflict failed to agree upon. With the Saturday’s election which was faced by Taliban threats and attacks, the key question now lies in what the next Afghan government would be able to accomplish in terms of sustainable peace. The collapse of the talks made way for greater uncertainty than ever before. There are, however, some good omens which give hope of a better future for the country such as conducting of the presidential election, although with a surprisingly low turnout.

Meanwhile, the country’s national-security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly’s debate in New York, issuing a message to the Taliban insurgents that the government won’t back down from them. His speech came just two days after seemingly a little more than two million people voted in the presidential election, which was marred by a spate of militant attacks across the country and reports of problems at polling stations. With smoke gradually clearing from Afghanistan’s presidential polls, Mohib said: “To the Taliban and their foreign sponsors, hear this now, a message from the Afghan people: Join us in peace, or we will continue to fight. This is a fight we can win.” For Afghan people, peace was still the common objective and terrorists were the common enemy. This call for peace with open hands is laudable and it is upon the Taliban now to listen to it because both sides have threatened of continuing conflict and are capable of doing so but it is the Afghans who are fed up and bear the brunt of the violence.

At this stand, all is not lost. There is still room for peace in Afghanistan. Therefore, if a chance is given to a viable dispensation which emerges after the vote results are announced and is acceptable to all Afghans, it will hold the legitimate mandate to negotiate with the Taliban and defend the gains of the past 18 years on a level playing field. Going about peace through a valid government would help pull this unfortunate country out of the morass of violence and put it on the path of a prosperous and better future. For the Taliban, they should revisit their tough policy of isolating the prospective next government – which will soon come about to hold the reins of power – from negotiations. The insurgent group must make the peace process intra-Afghan and engage in talks with the Afghan political elites and future government leadership. As much as difficult this endeavor seems, we must remain optimistic for the future and believe in a prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. After a new president is instated, reviving the peace process would at best take months but all hopes are pinned on the next regime to work for realizing Afghans’ dreams of tranquil and peaceful life.

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