After decades of unimaginable violence, torture, and bloodshed, the people of Afghanistan lookup for peace as the Taliban regime engages in talks with the Afghan government, for the first time, without gun-point (literally).
Following months of delay after the US-Taliban security deal in February, which sought to settle the long-standing war on terrorism, the two dis-engaging governments finally came face-to-face at the Gulf State of Qatar on Saturday morning.
Afghanistan has been long battered by political disputes, and the crossfire of power, sometimes between the radical Islam rulers called the Taliban and the NATO alliance-backed Afghan government.
But whatever the ruling party was, peace was never a recipe of the formed ‘governments’ and it has been the generations-after-generations of common Afghans who never knew what settlement is.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Doha to attend what he called a ‘historic’ moment. “What an honor to join today’s Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Doha,” Pompeo wrote.
“It is remarkable – and a testament to the human spirit – that the pain and patterns of destruction are no match for the enduring hopes for peace held by the Afghan people, and their many friends.”
Why is this talk significant?
For decades, the Taliban – radical Islamists – have refused to entertain any talks with the Afghanistan government since they considered it ‘illegitimate’ and puppets of America.
But even though the two governments are coming together at a table, the road ahead will be challenging, experts noted. The Afghan government backs the democratic and political system, while the Taliban demand an Islamic nation, AlJazeera noted.
This time the open discussion was made possible after the US signed a deal with the Taliban in February, promising to remove the thousands of troops stationed at Afghanisthan and also free the 5k Taliban members held hostage by the Afghan government.
On Thursday the Taliban confirmed their arrival for the meeting and released six last retained prisoners were released. Top delegations from the Afghan government also arrived at Doha and were oriented after a formal ceremony, following social distancing.
“We want Afghanistan to be an independent, developed country, and it should have a form of the Islamic system, where all its citizens see themselves reflected”, said Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund at the conference who was one of the key speakers. “Negotiations may have problems but should move forward with patience,” he added.
The Afghan High Commission chairperson Abdullah Abdullah, another key speaker, said: “We have come here with the goodwill and good intention to stop the 40 years of bloodshed and achieve a countrywide and lasting peace.”
“The current conflict has no winner through war and military means, but there will be no loser if this crisis is resolved through submission to the will of the people,” Abdullah said.
US Secretary of State, for his part, urged the two parties to seize the moment and secure peace for the future. “Each of you, I hope you will look inside your hearts; each of you carries great responsibility, but know that you’re not alone. The entire world wants you to succeed and is counting on you to succeed,” Pompeo said.
Suffered too long
Within the first six months of 2020, 1300 civilians, including children have been killed in Afghanistan according to the United Nations.
Government clashes with the Taliban regimen continue to kill thousands of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, President Ghani said.
The UN envoy Deborah Lyons said on Friday that the suffering of the Afghan people “has gone on for far too long.”
“An inclusive peace process, involving the meaningful participation of women, youth, and victims, upholding the human rights of every Afghan is the only path to peace.”
“I pay tribute to the resilience of all Afghans,” UN Chief António Guterres said in a video statement at the conference, referring to the countless years of torture they have been subjected to.
“It is crucial that all Afghan leaders & members of the international community do everything possible to make peace a reality.”