KABUL -- An increasing number of Taliban are renouncing their fight against the Afghan government and opting to join the peace process, as both the Afghan people and Taliban have grown weary of endless war, officials and analysts say.
Warfare lasting generations has exhausted the people, said Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, an adviser to the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC).
"It is not just the ordinary people who are tired of war," he told Salaam Times. "The Taliban too are fed up ... and are eager to join the peace process."
"This year, several groups of the Taliban have joined the peace process, which has been moving forward successfully," he said.
The Anti-War Movement, a group of university professors, members of parliament and civil society activists, gathered January 8 in Kabul to discuss the peace process, including both opportunities and challenges for lasting peace.
During the conference, Prof. Faiz Muhammad Zaland of Kabul, a leader of the Anti-War Movement, said he recently conferred with some Taliban leaders in Qatar and noticed a change in attitude.
"The Taliban used to set the complete withdrawal of foreign troops as a precondition for participation in the peace talks," he said. "Now the Taliban have withdrawn that demand and are willing to negotiate without any preconditions."
Precedent for peace
A growing understanding of the on-going situation on the part of opposition parties will encourage more Taliban to stop fighting, Qasimyar predicted.
He pointed to the long-awaited peace agreement between the Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) concluded last September.
"Following the signing of a peace treaty, more members of the Taliban are now interested in joining the peace process," he said.
HIA leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar September 29 signed the peace treaty with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, ending the party's nearly 14-year war against the Afghan government.
At the time, Hekmatyar urged other militant groups to join the peace process.
In the past few months, scores of Taliban militants have renounced violence, surrendered and joined the peace process.
In the most recent case, two groups of Taliban surrendered in Badakhshan Province December 6, including Qari Mehrab, leader of the Taliban in Yamgan District.
Qari said he underwent religious and military training in Pakistan 11 years ago and had been fighting in Badakhshan for seven years.
He expressed regret for his deeds, which included a role in massacring captured troops, and pledged to fight the Taliban, according to TOLO News.
Twenty members of Qari's group surrendered along with him, and another 11-member group of Taliban in Shohada District surrendered as well, local officials told Salaam Times.
Hundreds of Taliban surrender
"In the past three months, hundreds of armed Taliban have joined the peace process in Badakhshan," Provincial Governor Ahmad Fisal Bigzad said according to TOLO News.
Mawlawi Anamullah, another high-ranking Taliban official who called himself the Taliban's Hajj pilgrimage head, was among those who surrendered.
"I participated in Taliban battles and I noticed that my followers' minds were being diverted and they were acting against Islam," he said according to TOLO News. "Then we joined the government."
The grass-roots efforts for peace are encouraging, said Nazar Mohammad Motmahin, a former Taliban member.
"But to reach peace, we need more efforts from the Afghan government and from the Taliban," he told Salaam Times.
'Every war ends in peace'
If foreign supporters forsake the Taliban, the group will stop fighting and durable peace can result, analysts say.
"Many years of war has exhausted the Afghan people, as well as all of the involved parties," Wahid Mojdeh, an Afghan political analyst and former diplomat, told Salaam Times. "They now welcome even the slightest hope for peace."
Through financial support and influence over some Taliban leaders, foreign governments "force the Taliban to continue their fight against the legitimate government of Afghanistan", said Muhammad Mousa, a 28-year-old student at a private university in Kabul.
"Ordinary people and security forces are not the only ones who suffer casualties," he told Salaam Times. "The Taliban are the ones who are affected and frustrated the most."
"Now, all the people of Afghanistan realise that some countries in the region are trying to prevent the Taliban from joining the peace process," said Rafiullah, 52, a retired Afghan military officer.
"However, the Taliban are gradually beginning to understand that they have been involved in a senseless war against their own people ... and they will withdraw from the war," he told Salaam Times.
"Every war ends with peace," said Prof. Latif Nazari of Kabul, a political scientist "It is now time for the Afghan government and the Taliban to continue their negotiations with the objective of achieving peace."