Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, February 24th, 2020

Declaration of Truce will Generate Hope and Optimism

If the Taliban could bring down their expectations in a pragmatic way and made positive response to the latest development, reduce their insurgent offensives, and try to reach a transient ceasefire agreement with their adversary, the reconciliation process could make a substantial step forward.
Taliban negotiators have reportedly traveled to Islamabad to consult the US’ demand, a declaration of truce, with their top leaders, who are settled in Pakistan.
Although both the Taliban and US representatives claimed progress in the talks, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had made new offers which include reduction of violence and negotiations with the Kabul government. US representatives have urged the Taliban to declare a transient ceasefire before holding intra-Afghan dialogue.
Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander said that the Taliban leadership, which is consulting a truce declaration, was likely to accept the ceasefire offer but had not yet finalized its decision. A former Taliban official Maulavi Qalamuddin has confirmed the Taliban’s consultation on ceasefire.
Political analysts believe that if the Taliban do not declare truce with the Afghan government, their peace deal with Washington would carry no significance. In other words, peace deal is expected to reduce violence and lead to a sustainable peace across Afghanistan. A deal without reduction of violence will make no change in the country.
It is believed that if a peace deal is signed between the Taliban on the one side and Kabul and Washington on the other side, regional states will also enjoy the fruit. Therefore, I have reiterated, in many of my commentaries, the significant role of regional and global stakeholders in the talks and urged them to engage constructively in the Afghan peace process. For instance, some states have shown concerns over the spillover of instability from Afghanistan, but still have not played their role in this regard. “Peace in Afghanistan has wide-ranging implications for the region and beyond. It is a key issue which affects the stability of the region. It is also an issue fundamental to the international efforts to counter terrorist groups including the ISIL-KP,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He added that the strategy for peace should have an extensive base of support and all peace efforts, made by Afghans and regional stakeholders, had to be closely coordinated in a way that creates synergy.
In a personal interview about the solution to the Afghan conflict, Dr. Zeng Xiangyu, a lecturer in the Institute of South Asian Studies at Sichuan University, maintained that “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process” was the real solution. According to him, that judgement was not based on a negotiation-preference or anything associated with idealism. On the contrary, that was based on the hard and often unpleasant ground reality. Military operations as was in the past one and half decade, failed to settle the issue. Then how the same tactic could succeed in the next few years, he said.
It is widely believed that Afghan-owned and led peace talks will be highly constructive in the fruition of the peace talks. Although the Taliban held informal talks with Kabul representatives, they held out against formal talks.
On the other hand, the Afghan government and political leaders could not reach a national consensus or form an inclusive negotiating team acceptable to the Afghan government and political parties as well as the Taliban group. It is self-evident that the Kabul government is one of the highly heavyweight sides of the talks and Washington-Kabul-Taliban agreement will be the only solution to the conflict.
In addition to inclusion of the Kabul government in the talks, the preconditions Afghan people adhere to and urge not to be compromised at the peace table include: Protection of the rights and freedoms of people, mainly those of women, on the basis of Afghanistan’s Constitution, adhering to the constitutional principles, protection of the democratic achievements, and not imposing the Taliban-styled rule on the public. These issues are non-negotiable according to the Afghan people and have to be accepted with no ifs, ands, or buts. To put it succinctly, if peace talks put the aforementioned issues at stake, Afghans will be ready to continue their sacrifices but not the outcome of the talks.
Since peace talks are a fundamental issue for all individuals across the country, all segments of the society – including women, the youth, religious institutions, and civil society activists – should have their say in this regard.
Religious figures and institutions carry great significance in Afghanistan and a number of clerics have recently called on the Taliban to reduce violence. To this end, reduction of violence, which is one of the US’ demands, is widely urged by Afghan nation and state as well as global stakeholders.
Meanwhile, if the Taliban declare a transient ceasefire, public hope for peace and stability will increase and it will show the Taliban’s seriousness for talks. Furthermore, it will show that the Taliban leadership exercises authority on its military commander.