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Editorial: No pretext left to avoid making peace

The only stumbling block to the launch of intra-Afghan talks has now been resolved. The declaration of the three-day Loya Jirga, which was participated by hundreds of delegates, agreed to free 400 Taliban members, completing the total quota of 5,000 Taliban inmates mentioned in the US-Taliban deal, as well as paving the way for an early start to negotiations between Afghanistan’s warring sides. The Jirga’s declaration called for an immediate start to negotiations as well as an immediate ceasefire. Given this, there is no excuse left for the sides and it’s a chance for each of the warring sides to prove their promises and commitments. It’s not been decided when the negotiations would start but the Afghan government and the Taliban are well-advised to begin as early as next week. The Taliban had earlier said they were ready for talks immediately after their final prisoners were released and that a ceasefire would be one of the first items of negotiations. Taking this stark action – of releasing Taliban prisoners accused of heavy crimes –  is not easy for anyone but the Afghan nation showed it’s fed up with war and thus took this decision so negotiations could begin to bring an end to the war. At this juncture, all the points in the resolution letter of the Loya Jirga should be heeded and implemented, especially monitoring the released prisoners so that they don’t return to the battlefield; ensuring that democracy, basic human rights and republican system aren’t sacrificed; and women’s rights and participation are ensured in the peace process. Therefore, all focus should now be on initiating the all-Afghan talks and at the top of the agenda should be the ceasefire, the first thing that the sides must agree upon in order to bring an end to the killings and violence of Afghan masses. By achieving this milestone and resolving the issue of the prisoner release, there is no pretext left for anybody to avoid making peace and it’s an opportunity for them all to take sincere steps and walk the talk now.

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