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Editorial: War or peace?

When all stakeholders claim of inching closing to the start of intra-Afghan talks, Afghans expect they are finally on the verge of heaving a sigh of relief. But then tragic incidents of violence are carried out by the warring sides – with civilians being the ones victimized to a great proportion. The Taliban haven’t delivered on its promise of reducing violence since February’s peace agreement, mainly because the government has been sluggish in releasing the insurgent group’s inmates for various reasons. Meanwhile, the government has also started reciprocating the violence with airstrikes. A recent horrible air blitz that targeted a gathering purportedly welcoming a released Taliban commander, resulted in the killing of 12 civilians and injuries to another 20. The flawed air raid has drawn ringing denunciation from many stakeholders. Former President Hamid Karzai, as well as the incumbent Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah, condemned the Afghan forces airstrike. This is while the peace process also seems to be in tatters. The Taliban insist on the release of their remaining 600 prisoners, who are held by the government because of their major crimes against Afghans. The militant group promised to release all government inmates by the upcoming Eid-ul-Adha festival and expected the government to do the same. They hinted at the launch of intra-Afghan talks after Eid if these conditions are met. On the other hand, the regional countries also seem to not be on the same page in regards to Afghan peace. The US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation confirmed this by saying Iran did not properly support the Afghan peace process. Zalmay Khalilzad substantiated the concerns written in these columns before that competition and differences among Central Asian countries have created challenges to a regional consensus on the Afghan peace effort. Considering these bleak developments, one aspect to all this does become more and more crucial, which is the unity of Afghans and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solutions to the conflict. Regional countries won’t arrive at a consensus regarding a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan, so does that mean the war should continue in the country? This war only benefits foreigners while Afghans are its fuel. Thus, the Afghan warring sides should deliberate over their recent actions and see if they want to continue the war forever on foreigners’ behest or carry out overtures to end this war once and for all. They should decide what they want the most, war or peace because they have the capability to opt for either of them but only that their fellow Afghans, who they claim to protect, continue to be killed and maimed in the former.

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