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Editorial: Negotiating a viable settlement to end conflict

After months of delay and wrangling, eventually the intra-Afghan talks opened this week in Doha for direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. This was the direct result of an agreement reached between the US and the Taliban in February. Kabul was not directly involved in those negotiations, and the process was vague which had melted with so many confusions and tensions. Finally it has culminated into the talks despite several delays. The US intention was very clear from the outset, to make a good deal to facilitate American troops out of the longest war that Washington has ever fought. Nevertheless, this should in no way lead to the irresponsible withdrawal of the US troops from the country. Until final touch to reach a desirable settlement, pulling out international troops would be another mistake emboldening the insurgents in a very wrong perception. Even they will not vacillate from another 9/11 type attack, the sole reason American invaded Afghanistan in pretext of war on terror. Past blunders must not be repeated. Afghanistan has turned from ashes to an underdeveloped country, in which its biggest pride is democracy, the preservation of women’s rights, access to equal education to all, great achievements in sports and showbiz, and the most importantly freedom of expression which is unique and best compared to the regional countries. There are also so many other achievements which should not be reversed in the talks with the Taliban. If a blind peace deal unfortunately occurred, these achievements would be tarnished. Undoubtedly, war is not a solution. The Taliban and the Afghan government should have accepted this reality—both sides can’t win militarily. This experience has gone for over two decades without any result. Indeed, negotiations would be tricky; both parties will try to convince each other. But this is a historic opportunity for them to end war and reach a compromise, in which peace and stability are restored. Foremost, the Taliban is urging to seize this opportunity to forge a political settlement and reach a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire as initial steps in the peace talks. The Taliban, despite being involved in big attacks that tens of thousands of people were killed and wounded, would be called champions of the peace once they shun violence and turn the war-hit country to a peaceful state. Everyone will be a winner in such a peace to be acceptable for all.

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