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Editorial: Peace is all priority

With deadly violence spiking around the country, a slight hope has once again emerged for its de-escalation or hopefully for its end as the Afghan and Taliban peace teams have returned to the negotiation table. The resumption of talks after a long pause, is taking as a good omen that the two sides can eventually agree on a reduction of violence that finally lead to an outright ceasefire, ending the nightmare of the Afghans who are yearning for peace for over four decades. Both sides termed the atmosphere cordial, a commitment that negotiations should continue. They also assigned groups to set the agenda. Now when the wish lists are discussing, both sides must not kill the time, and should tackle the obstacles in nutshell to kick start the real and constructive talks to find a political settlement. Both sides need to come down from their demands. No side’s demand is 100 percent acceptable. There is the need of compromise for the sake of the success of the process that optimistically brings us peace. It’s very much clear that there is a bumpy road to the peace process, but since both sides are the Afghans this should not be a biggest challenge. Differences in opinion might take a long time to erase or become acceptable to each other, but at least there should be no disagreement on the whole concept of talks. The priority is a serious reduction in violence. The Taliban have agreed with the US, but until now they resisted any immediate violence reduction rather war has been intensified. Appallingly, the new wave of targeted-killings, including attacks on judges, female employees and civil society workers, and journalists has reached its peak. The climax of fear and horror covered all over Afghanistan, especially Kabul as in just three days nine people, including a woman and children were killed and several others wounded. We have paid a terrible price in 2020 as more than 3,000 killed with a distributing surge in violence recorded after peace talks started in September. Devastating impact of Afghanistan conflict on civilians, the sheer scale of harm, has few parallels anywhere in the world. The UN Report documents the facts in 2020, urging more action from parties to protect civilians and support victims. It’s the most proper time where the Afghan-Taliban negotiators should have engaged in meaningful talks. The bad scenario is that the Taliban seemingly has plans to keep fighting until US troops leave the country, but the victims would be against the civilians. Once we stopped the war, there would be no need for foreign troops and they would leave without ifs and buts. NATO and the US might stay longer as conditions are right, they clearly put ongoing violence too high which they might consider a withdrawal plan. They would not find any excuse to stay longer if there is no violence. It’s we, the Afghan and Taliban that are prolonging their stay. If we succeeded to put an end to the violence today, they will withdraw tomorrow. It’s a condition-based plan. A brief reminder, on Sunday, two kids, one of them covered with blood, were captured screaming “Mom please wake up, mom please get up.” Their mother was wounded in Sunday’s Kabul blast that killed four, including a poor child and a woman. This is the greatest reminder for both sides to engage in a meaningful talk, putting peace priority rather than their narrow-personal interests.

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