Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Declaration of Ceasefire – A Bone of Contention

As the Taliban and US’ representatives are reaching close to a deal, the rift between the Afghan government and political leaders has grown wider. Political factions seem to disapprove of the negotiating team formed by the Ghani administration and welcome Taliban’s agreement on reduction of violence.
Calling reduction of violence “ambiguous”, the Kabul administration has urged the Taliban to declare ceasefire. That is, Kabul asks for declaration of ceasefire before intra-Afghan dialogue; nonetheless, political leaders believe that intra-Afghan talks would pave the ground for truce.
The Taliban agreed to scale down their military operations but refused to declare ceasefire.
With the lack of national consensus and growing rift between high-ranking political figures and the government, the intra-Afghan dialogue appears to be very controversial. Political figures will be in pursuit of their political positions in the government, in which the Taliban are supposed to be integrated.
Afghans are apprehensive about two issues: First the intra-Afghan dialogue will be controversial since political leaders would prefer their self-interests to national issues. There is a trust deficit between Afghan political figures and ordinary people, who are of the view that politicians rarely rendered service for the nation.
Second, it is feared that democratic achievements would be at stake after the withdrawal of US and NATO forces and emergence of civil unrest is probable if the Taliban seek to impose their mindset on people, especially regarding people’ inherent rights and freedoms.
Afghan incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said that CEO Abdullah Abdullah and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had no plan for peace talks. Subsequently, political leaders, including Abdullah and Karzai, held a meeting to discuss the intra-Afghan dialogue and design a scheme for peace.
Political leaders believe that the government tried to “monopolize” the peace process and it would not represent the people.
CEO Abdullah is cited as saying, “No one should attempt to hinder the peace process for their agenda; instead, we should work on creating a consensus on the issue that facilitates the peace process.”
If Afghan political leaders are concerned about the fate of the nation, they have to narrow their gap with the government and hold a unanimous approach towards intra-Afghan dialogue. It is believed that asking the Taliban for ceasefire is a reasonable demand by the government. Ceasefire will carry two benefits: For the one, it will reduce civilian casualties. Currently, the Taliban carry out indiscriminate attacks against Afghan people and show no iota of mercy to women and children.
Second, declaration of ceasefire will be a gesture of goodwill for peace talks. If the Taliban are genuine in the talks, it should not be hard for them to declare truce.
It should be noted that forming a team selectively will be neither acceptable to the public nor resolve the issue. Both the Afghan government and political leaders have to agree on forming an inclusive and national team.
It is believed that if disagreement over the formation of an inclusive team continues, the talks may reach a stalemate. Neither side should contribute to the creation of obstacles before the talks.
Afghan people are awaiting for ceasefire and end of conflict. They expect officials and political leaders to put their weight behind the start and fruition of intra-Afghan dialogue. With this in mind, Afghans called on the Taliban several times to declare ceasefire and negotiate with the Afghan government.
The Taliban should have no rule in the formation of the negotiating team from the government side. They have to negotiate with any team introduced by the government.
The government should consult political leaders for the formation of the team, which should be inclusive and represent the nation. All segments of the society, including women and civil society activists, should be included in the team.
It is evident that the talks have reached a very crucial phase, as the US and Taliban negotiators may sign a peace agreement in few days, and Afghan officials and political leaders should put all their energy in the process for its fruition.
Political rhetoric and growing mistrust in the current sensitive time will further complicate the issue and slow down the peace process. Officials and political and tribal leaders have to use their influence for the success of the talks.
Meanwhile, the Taliban should show flexibility to the demands of their Afghan interlocutors and stop persisting only on their own demands. That is, there is give-and-take in the dialogue and both sides have to be logical. If the Kabul government is ready to declare truce, why the Taliban group refuses to announce ceasefire?