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Truce or violence reduction – get it straight!

The unofficially resumed talks between the Taliban and the US negotiators are finally taking shape. The stop-start talks are culminating into a seemingly positive result but the circumstances and things are still vague. Reports reveal the sides, which have recently resumed peace parleys after a month-long break, are nearly finished charting the long-elusive peace accord and are on the brink of signing it as ceremonial preparations are underway. However, the issue of reduction of violence or a ceasefire is still ambiguous. According to the unconfirmed narrative of western media, as part of efforts to take the peace process forward, the Taliban leader has purportedly agreed to a reduction in violence (or a ceasefire, not confirmed) for seven to 10 days. Although the Taliban confirm being engaged in “fruitful discussions” with the US but say nothing officially about ceasefire or reduction in violence. But this diplomatic double-talk and keeping people and media in the dark have got people worried as to what things are being decided on their behalf and for their future.

This difference in the parlance – where one side says a ceasefire or reduction of violence is agreed upon while the other doesn’t even bother to confirm or reject it and in some cases doesn’t even mention it – indicates these peace negotiations are still plagued by mistrust. The doubtfulness and reluctance on the Taliban side can be rightfully interpreted as the group’s fear of losing its bargaining chip of violence if they even speak of a truce. This fear stems from the fact that if they offer a permanent armistice with the US or the Afghan government, then bringing their rebels and fighters back to the battlefield with the same intensity could be nearly an impossible task. For the US, it seems it doesn’t matter if there is a ceasefire or not due to the American public’s opinion – thus the country’s administration being compelled as such – which just favors extrication from the Afghan quagmire. Besides, conservative veterans have just recently launched a multimillion-dollar ad blitz in three US states for the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan. But they are overlooking the fact that they are in fact losing their bargaining power by doing such things and hence the vagueness about the issue of ceasefire or reduction in violence.  This is while the government still stands stiff on its stance of demanding a permanent ceasefire entailed by intra-Afghan talks. Meanwhile, an armistice is considered the only way to a lasting, dignified peace and stability, a common demand of the people. At this juncture when the Taliban-US deal seems in the offing, all sides’ intentions and willingness for a truce should be clearly communicated and all of them should equally reciprocate the calls for a truce.

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