AFGHANISTAN. Herat. The Intra-Afghan peace talks begin in Doha, Qatar on Saturday morning. The two sides hold talks for the first time after 19 years of war.
We have come to this country to achieve a dignified and lasting peace,” Dr. Adullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said. Adding that the continuation of this destructive war won’t have a winner.
“The people of Afghanistan and the world expects us to dispose of violence and come to lasting ceasefire as we figure out a comprehensive agenda for a negotiated settlement. He said they are seeking the declaration of “ a humanitarian ceasefire.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said US support Afghans in building a roadmap to a peaceful future, adding that it took “hard work and sacrifices to reach this moment. The entire world wants you to succeed. The US stands for an independent, united, and democratic Afghanistan that is at peace with all.”
“The US does not seek to impose our democratic system in Afghanistan, it is up to you to decide“
Based on a US-Taliban agreement, Taliban agreed to cut ties with Al-Qaeda in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees.
Head of the Taliban political office Mullah Baradar said,” The group has lived up to its commitments it made under an agreement with the United States, and urges the other side to do the same.”
“We want a united, independent, developed ‘Afghanistan’ with an ‘Islamic system’ where all citizens are equal without prejudice.”
Ending U.S longest war in Afghanistan
The Afghan parties are holding direct talks after months of delay. The U.S.-Taliban agreement in Doha, Qatar on 29 February dated the beginning of Intra-Afghan talks on 10 March. But a prison swap that included the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government and the political gridlock in Kabul to put a pro-government negotiating team prolonged the commencement of the negotiations.
Hopes for outcomes
While some are hopeful for the talks, there are worries that the 19 years gains might be negotiated away. Afghans are hoping that the Taliban and the government agree to a lasting ceasefire at the outset of talks to decrease the violence across the country. The negotiations have raised hope across Afghanistan that the conflict may come to an end.
The talks also include Afghan women in the negotiation team. With 4 women in the Afghan team, there are still concerns about their basic rights to be dealt with in the talks.
Fawzia Koofi, a member of the Afghan negotiating team says the team hopes that participants in the Intra-Afghan talks will accept Afghanistan’s diversity and especially women’s rights. Adding that,” we expect the groups to be a part of Afghan society ultimately.” Koofi came under attack last month and got a bullet in her hand.
The opening ceremony of the Intra-Afghan talks commenced with twenty speeches from foreign ministers and dignitaries of the world organizations. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his addresses in the opening ceremony of the Intra-Afghan talks said, ”Today is a historic day – I know the opportunity has not been created easily, the efforts of both sides are commendable.”