KABUL -- A look at Afghanistan's history suggests only an inclusive, legitimate government -- not a small illegal or exclusive group -- can effectively govern and provide services to the public.
The Afghan government and foreign donors have spent billions of dollars building governing systems and public infrastructure in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, and the upcoming peace talks in Qatar provide an opportunity to preserve those achievements, stakeholders say.
Reforms of governance are possible, they add, but starting from scratch would derail the progress made.
"Peace is a vital need and a demand of the Afghan people," said Gul Rahman Qazi, chairman of an NGO, the Afghanistan Council for Peace and Salvation. "A golden opportunity to ensure peace is in front of us, and parties to the Afghan conflict should not lose this historic opportunity."
"No one should seek to gain concessions in making peace," he said. "Parties need to show flexibility in peace talks, and any party that displays humility will be the winner."
"The parties to the Afghan conflict are Muslims, and they should positively respond to the public's demands and their vital needs and disregard their personal wants by taking up the peace initiative," he said.
"The enemies of Afghan peace are trying to scuttle the peace process," Qazi said.
"Afghans call on parties to the conflict to begin intra-Afghan peace talks as soon as possible and use the platform to arrive at an agreement on forming a broad, inclusive and national government...that can represent all Afghans," he added.
Ending the miseries caused by war
Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad, a former member of the Afghan High Peace Council and a former commander of mujahideen, said he has witnessed 40 years of war in the country.
"I have seen all the miseries caused by the war," he said.
"Fortunately, we have an opportunity to end the 40 years of war and misery and reconcile with each other," he said. "Therefore, the parties to the conflict should not miss this historic opportunity, and [they should] kick-start the intra-Afghan peace talks and put an end to the bloodshed in the country."
"The only solution to the problems in Afghanistan is intra-Afghan peace talks and an agreement on ending the war, ensuring peace and establishing an inclusive and legitimate government that can represent all Afghans," Waqad said.
"No specific group, party or tribe alone can rule in Afghanistan and serve the Afghan people," he said.
"Those who think that they can seize power and the government in Afghanistan are making a mistake," he said. "They need to change their mindset because the Afghan people do not accept the rule of a specific group or party that doesn't represent all Afghans. The past 40 years has proved this reality."
Lasting peace and stability at stake
"The current democracy revolves around groups and figures, and we're grappling with the real meaning of democracy," said Sefatullah Safi, a political affairs analyst from Kabul.
"Broader inclusivity is under question. The election [in 2019] had problems. Freedom of speech is under threat," he said. "The post-peace structure [of the government] needs to be broadly based and inclusive so that it can reflect all the tribal, political, religious, ideological and ethnic realities."
Any party or group that tries to rule Afghanistan with force will not succeed, said Safi.
"The parties to the conflict were not able to impose their demands on each other during the past 20 years of war; therefore, [engaging in] intra-Afghan talks ... is the best choice and solution," he said.
"The post-peace government should fulfil the expectations of all Afghans, and countries in the region and around the world should recognise the government."
"The Afghan people and countries in the region and around the globe are waiting to see what structure Afghans will agree on during intra-Afghan peace talks," he said.
Representing all Afghans
"Unless we have an inclusive government in Afghanistan that can represent all Afghans from villages and localities, it is hard to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan," said Hamidullah Hotak, a political affairs analyst in Kabul.
"According to the consultative loya jirga decision ... intra-Afghan peace talks should immediately begin," he said. "And parties to the conflict need to agree on an inclusive government as soon as possible so that the bloodshed of Afghans can cease."
Hotak called on the international community to urge all parties to engage in peace negotiations and to support a representative government formed after the peace settlement.
"History has proved that groups, parties, and illegal and self-proclaimed rulers in Afghanistan haven't been able to govern Afghans or deliver services to them," he said. "Only inclusive and legitimate governments are able to deliver public services and build facilities and infrastructure."
"Historically, governments that were not inclusive and legitimate in Afghanistan were reasons for war and instability," said Gul Ahmad Kamin, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Kandahar Province.
"Afghans need to learn a lesson from history and begin intra-Afghan peace talks as soon as possible so that they can agree on an inclusive government," he said.
"Those who try to control the government alone had better realise that they haven't delivered any beneficial or infrastructural work to Afghans and Afghanistan and that they have even caused growth and development to stagnate," Kamin said.
"An inclusive and legal government has the ability to serve the public; build roads, health centres, schools, universities, bridges; deliver health services to Afghans; create jobs and implement development projects in villages," he said.
"A small illegal group can't do any of these things," Kamin said.