https://afghanistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_st/features/2018/08/31/feature-01
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Afghans dismiss Moscow's self-interested attempts to hijack peace talks

By Sulaiman

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Residents walk past destroyed houses after a Taliban attack in Ghazni on August 16. Moscow's recent attempt at holding an Afghan peace conference without consulting Kabul has been seen as an attempt to further the Kremlin's own interests in the country. [Zakeria Hashimi/AFP]

KABUL -- Afghan lawmakers and political analysts have lauded the government's refusal to participate in a Russia-led international conference on Afghanistan.

Moscow announced the conference, originally scheduled for September 4, without consulting the Afghan government. In addition to Kabul and the United States, Russia invited the Taliban, Iran, China, Pakistan, India and the Central Asian republics.

Afghanistan and the United States turned down their invitations, saying that any such summit should be conducted by Kabul and owned by the Afghan people.

Days later, Russia bowed to pressure and delayed the conference indefinitely.

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A group of 50 Taliban militants surrender their weapons and join the peace process in Badghis Province August 11. At the event, their commander revealed that Russia 'ordered' them to destroy mosques and schools across Afghanistan. [Nasir Salehi]

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Russia postponed its planned Afghan conference after President Ashraf Ghani spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, shown in Moscow August 24. [Russian Foreign Ministry/Flickr]

"Such summits are effective only when they are conducted in co-ordination with the Afghan government. If both countries -- especially Afghanistan -- lead and host this summit, it will certainly be effective. Otherwise, it will be ineffective and inconsequential," Shah Hussain Murtazawi, a deputy spokesman for Ghani, told Salaam Times Tuesday (August 28).

Kabul asserts its authority

"Our government and our international partners are the only parties who can make decisions on Afghanistan's peace and war, and not those countries that support the Taliban," said Mohammad Asif Sediqi, deputy speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of parliament), referring to allegations that Russia and Iran support the Taliban.

"When it comes to such matters as peace and war in Afghanistan, the Afghan people, its government and our international partners are the only ones who should play a role and not those countries that have expanded the scope of war and are preventing peace and stability by providing the Taliban with their support," Sediqi told Salaam Times.

"Meetings and summits that are held on such subjects as Afghanistan's fate and future, and especially the peace process, should be led by the Afghan government," he added. "The ultimate decision should be taken by the Afghan government on behalf of the Afghan people, and not by the Russians or other countries."

"International norms and standards, as well as ethical rules, require that any summit and meeting held to discuss Afghanistan should be done in the presence of a delegation from the Afghan government," Daud Kalakani, a member of the international relations committee in the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament), told Salaam Times.

"Otherwise, such meetings will lead to no results," he said.

"Peace is demanded by all Afghans, the government and people alike," he continued. "Every decision taken by other countries concerning this matter should be done in co-ordination and with the involvement of the Afghan government."

"The Afghan government was decisive in its move not to attend the Moscow meeting, and it is commendable," Kalakani added.

The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) also called on the international community to support Afghanistan and emphasised the government-led peace process.

"We call on the international community to support the peace process and help and assist us, so that the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process can be accelerated, and to pave the path for direct talks between the Afghan government and [the] Taliban," Sayed Ehsan Tahiri, the HPC spokesman, told Salaam Times.

Moscow's new machinations

Moscow's efforts to convene an international meeting without consulting the Afghan leaders were aimed only at serving its own interests, some Afghan analysts have argued.

"It was obvious that the Russians had planned to hold this meeting in order to serve their own interests and to sabotage inter-Afghan dialogue, and it was not at all for the purpose of forcing the Taliban to participate in peace talks or to halt the fighting," Nabi Mesdaq, a Kabul-based political analyst, told Salaam Times.

"We welcome and admire the [Afghan] government's refusing to participate in this summit and forcing the Russians to postpone the meeting," Mesdaq said.

"As the meeting date approached, the Russians realised that if they held this meeting without the presence or participation of the Afghan government, they would face negative reaction and criticism from Afghanistan and even the international community... so they postponed it," Mesdaq added.

"Any such meeting in the future should be led by the Afghan government; otherwise, it will all be in vain and will make zero difference in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan," he noted.

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As a young political analyst, I would say that the government of Afghanistan should have taken part in this meeting because Taliban's representatives were also participating in the meeting.

No matter how many gatherings take place, such as, it took place in Indonesia or Saudi Arabia, but it will not give any fruits if representatives of the opposite side are not present.

Here, the problem is that America never wants peace to come in Afghanistan or to have positive results through mediation of Russia or China because then their presence and the fighting they have done here come under questions. Afghanistan needs peace and our aim is a permanent peace, we have to support no matter who mediate it but we should support it. We should turn our back on it if America does not want it.

When it comes to the issue of Afghanistan, we should will take part in it, but we have to lead it. I completely disagree with a position of not taking part in the meeting to please America and to let the killing of Afghans continue because they do not want peace to come through mediation of Russia, and I consider this as a big mistake and oppression against the Afghan nation. Let's give priority to the needs of our own country, and we should ask America for similar practical steps to pave a way for such a meeting which guarantees participation of the opposite group.

As I pointed before that every meeting and one-sided decision without participation of the opposite party is fruitless, and it is proved by the previous meetings.

Important points are that when we are holding meeting with the opposite side, those representatives of the government should take part who have not participated in the previous fights, who would be able to play the role as a third party. They will make a true representation of the Afghan nation, and their purpose should be only peace.

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