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Editorial: Peace process plateauing out

The Afghan peace process has once again plateaued out after a considerable process until now. It’s become usual that one or another pretext comes up to delay the national undertaking which is of key importance to Afghanistan. The two most problematic hurdles to the launch of intra-Afghan talks so far have been the increased violence and the reluctance to finish the prisoner release process. In a new report, the US Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General said the Taliban have not carried out even a single attack on US or coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past three months while admitting that there has been a spike in violence against Afghan security forces since the signing of the US-Taliban peace pact. The most tragic aspect of this spike in violence is that the Afghan civilians are the ones who bear most of the brunt. Afghans celebrated the country’s 101st anniversary of independence despite serious challenges in terms of security. For instance, rocket attacks in capital Kabul city killed three and wounded 16 others on Tuesday. This is while Afghanistan is grappling with new uncertainties over the start of talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government. The main issue now is that the government reneged on its decision of releasing the remaining 320 Taliban prisoners, mainly because the insurgents hadn’t freed more captured Afghan soldiers. The decision went against that of Loya Jirga and is set to further delay intra-Afghan peace talks. Moreover, some foreign countries’ backlash to the release of the hardcore prisoners is also a factor in play that has affected the release process. At this juncture, that the Afghan nation has accepted to take a risk and give a sacrifice by accepting the release of the convicted Taliban hardcore inmates is enough indication of their wish to see a peaceful Afghanistan. However, the recent friction in this regard is not reasonable. If foreign countries have objections over the prisoner release, they are forgetting that these hardened criminals have also killed hundreds of Afghans. Nevertheless, the victimized Afghans were still ready to release them in the hope of reaching sustainable peace. It’s true that the issues of transitional justice and doing justice to victims are being circumvented here but releasing the prisoners seems to be the only way now. Therefore, the foreign countries should seek out a compromise here because the continuing violence is taking a severe toll on ordinary Afghans, who earnestly yearn for peace and it’s time that the warring parties started the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led negotiations. Afghan leaders from all sides should rise to the challenge, with support from the international fraternity, and reach a political agreement.

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