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.
"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," Ehsan Taheri, 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 intra-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.