https://afghanistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_st/features/2020/02/26/feature-02
Diplomacy |

US eyes 'enormous political opportunity' as partial truce with Taliban holds

Salaam Times and AFP

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a briefing February 25 in Washington. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The United States, voicing optimism about reaching an accord to end the war in Afghanistan as a partial truce held with the Taliban, on Tuesday (February 25) called on Afghan leaders not to scuttle the "enormous opportunity."

The United States plans to sign an agreement with the Taliban on Saturday (February 29) in Qatar if the week-long truce holds.

Five days in, the number of Taliban attacks has fallen dramatically.

Taliban attacks have dropped from an average of 75 a day to about 15 since the truce began on February 22, an Afghan security source told AFP.

"So far the reduction in violence is working -- imperfect, but it's working," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

"We're on the cusp of an enormous, enormous political opportunity," he said.

Pompeo voiced confidence that "voices all across the Afghan political spectrum" including women "will go into the ultimate solution".

The United States was "pretty close" to a deal as two days had gone by with "a minimum of violence", said US President Donald Trump while visiting India.

US Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, also saw the partial truce succeeding.

"We're seeing what we would call a downward trend in violence, which is great for the Afghan people. It's great for the country of Afghanistan," he said in a statement.

Despite the optimism, sporadic violence has continued to claim lives.

"At least nine civilians, including a woman, were wounded when an IED [improvised explosive device] placed in a motorbike exploded in [Police District 6] in Kabul this afternoon," Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said in a tweet Wednesday (February 26).

The Taliban denied any involvement.

Inauguration delayed

The partial truce and the potential agreement came after Afghanistan announced the results of last year's presidential elections.

"The United States notes the announcement on February 18, 2020, by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan on the results of the presidential election held September 28, 2019 in favor of President Ashraf Ghani," the State Department said Tuesday in a statement.

"The Afghan people want peace. It is time to focus not on electoral politics, but on taking steps toward a lasting peace, ending the war with the Taliban, and finding a formula for a political settlement that can serve the interests of all of this country’s citizens through intra-Afghan negotiations we expect will begin in March," it added.

Ghani's office said Wednesday it was postponing the February 27 planned presidential inauguration ceremony until March 9.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad welcomed the decision.

"As the electoral process has concluded, President Ghani, as the declared winner, and other leaders should ensure that the new government is inclusive and reflects the aspirations of all Afghans," he said.

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We all request from President Ashraf Ghani to establish an inclusive government with the Taliban. Dr. Ghani is an educated man, we know this. He did many things for the economy of this country. We know this that he has released Afghanistan for the need of Pakistan. He connected Afghanistan with the central Asia and Europe. He made Afghanistan into a roundabout. He is the champion of the economic situation of the country, but now we all ask him to become a champion in bringing peace to this war torn country, because now it is the time for peace, people are tired of war, the Taliban, the Afghan Army, all other don’t want war. If Ashraf Ghani succeeds in making peace with the Taliban, his name will be written with golden writing in the history.

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All the political leaders of Afghanistan should work shoulder by shoulder to bring peace in Afghanistan. This is really a great opportunity created for the political settlement. Even if the government system is changed, Afghans are ready to accept it, because peace is more precious than that democratic government. During the past two decades thousands of Afghan were killed or wounded as a result of war on the government system. Political leaders want a democratic government while Taliban want Emirate. Afghans are indifferent whether the system is democratic or Emirate. they want peace and the want bread to eat. That's it. Ashraf Ghani should know that Afghans will not give more sacrifices for the system he is insisting. They are ready to live under the Taliban rule in case there is not fighting. Please Ashraf Ghani. dont insist on your wills, you have to listen also to what people say. Your children are outside the country, the same is for Abdullah Abdullah, but it is the ordinary people who give sacrifices day after day. War is enough, now a new window has opened, all the people are very optimistic for the peace deal. If you do not compromise with the Taliban, and the war continues, the people of Afghanistan will not forgive you, never.

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