Diplomacy

Afghans urge Taliban, government to take advantage of historic opportunity

By Omar

More than 1,000 Afghans from Herat, Farah, Ghor, Badghis, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces gathered on September 15 in Herat city to declare their support for peace talks with the Taliban and to urge both sides to take advantage of the historic opportunity. [Omar]

HERAT -- More than 1,000 Afghans from Herat, Farah, Ghor, Badghis, Kandahar and Helmand provinces gathered in Herat city to declare their support for peace talks with the Taliban, urging both sides to take advantage of the historic opportunity.

The government and the Taliban are in the early stages of meetings in Doha, Qatar, in an effort to hammer out a deal that would end the war in Afghanistan.

"The Afghan people expect the Afghan government, the Taliban, regional countries and the international community to not allow this golden and historical opportunity to be missed," said Mohammad Malang Borhani, a resident of Herat city who attended the gathering on September 15.

"The international community, which has been beside the Afghan people for the last 20 years, must monitor the peace process and pressure the negotiating parties to reach an agreement," he said

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More than 1,000 Afghans from Herat, Farah, Ghor, Badghis, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces gather September 15 in Herat city to declare their support for peace talks with the Taliban. [Omar]

If the peace talks fail, the conflict in the country will last for decades and Afghans will pay a huge price, Borhani added.

"Our demand for the Taliban and the Afghan government is to declare a ceasefire as soon as possible as war is a catastrophe that takes sacrifices from both sides," said Mohammad Naser Hafizi, a resident of Ghor Province.

Hopes are high that these talks will bear fruit and end the 40-year conflict in Afghanistan, he said.

"We do not want the war to continue any longer. This historic opportunity must be seized to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan," he added. "Afghans cannot tolerate bloodshed and massacres anymore."

Afghans are optimistic that these talks will succeed while preserving the achievements of the past two decades, said Sayed Subhan Rastgar, a civil society activist from Herat city.

"Our demand for both negotiating sides is not to compromise the basic rights of Afghans, civil liberties, human rights, women's rights, the rights of minorities, and democracy that have been achieved at the cost of Afghan blood in the past 18 years," Rastgar said.

Any peace that is not based on the popular will eventually will fail, he added.

Calls for an immediate ceasefire

Participants of the gathering called on the government and the Taliban to declare a ceasefire as soon as possible.

Afghans want live in peace, said Jalil Ahmad Safeer, who represented Kandahar Province at the rally.

"Afghans are raising their voices for an immediate ceasefire so that all parties in the negotiations can hear them, as this will pave the way for permanent peace in the country," he said. "They are tired of this war and bloodshed and want all parties to live in peace."

Under these circumstances, a ceasefire is the best option and can help the peace process succeed, he added.

To advance the peace negotiations in a friendly and trustful environment, the Afghan government and the Taliban should declare a ceasefire, said Gulsoom Sediqi, a civil society activist in Herat city.

"War does not end at once -- first, involved parties must agree on a ceasefire so that an environment for a permanent end to war... is ready," she said.

While Afghans do not expect permanent results soon from the talks, they do expect a ceasefire, she added.

The peace talks in Doha should not continue while dozens of Afghans lose their lives on the battlefield every day in Afghanistan, said Tariq Sayedi, a professor at Herat University.

"If the peace negotiators believe in peace, they must first agree to a ceasefire on the battlefield and not to forget about justice or preservation of the achievements of Afghanistan at the negotiating table," he said.

A ceasefire is the only way for the peace talks to succeed and to prevent further bloodshed, Sayedi added.

Peace in Islam

Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are a religious necessity, emphasised religious scholars from the seven western and southwestern provinces.

Based on the commands of God and the prophet of Islam, the Taliban and the Afghan government are obliged to make peace and end the war as soon as possible, said Mawlawi Abdul Hamid, a religious scholar from Ghorian District, Herat Province.

"Almighty God has said in the Holy Koran that Muslims are each other's brother," he said.

Continuing the war does not have any justification as it has brought nothing but destruction, killings, poverty and illiteracy, he added.

"Our expectation for the Taliban and the Afghan government is to have tolerance toward each other and respect the public's rightful demands," Hamid said.

"For the public to have more confidence in the peace talks, parties to the negotiations must first declare a ceasefire."

Peace is a religious obligation for all Muslims, said Mawlawi Abdul Baqi Saqib, a religious scholar from Herat city.

"The Holy Koran instructs Muslims to make peace with each other. Avoid conflicts and arguments so that you can live in peace," he said.

"Almighty God has ordered Muslims many times to make peace," he added. "If both the Taliban and the Afghan government claim to be Muslims, they must put their personal differences aside and follow their religious and national objectives."

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All Afghans have to take advantage of this golden chance. Otherwise, two hypocrite neighbors named Pakistan and Iran are always ready to interfere in Afghanistan and make Afghans fight with each other once again the way they did in the 1990s, and they will continuously use free water of the Afghans. It is not important whether the government is led by Ashraf Ghani, Atmar, Karzai, Mullah Hebatullah, Abdullah, donkey or dog, but all Afghans have to get together and defend the national values of Afghanistan, else, Pakistan is always ready to train terrorists and armed opponents and kill Afghans.

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My request to all the religious scholars and Islamic countries of the whole world is to work for the peace in Afghanistan, and firmly ask both Taliban and Afghan government to accept peace and make peace with each other.

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Undoubtedly peace and ceasefire are demands of the nation, but who will listen to the demands of the nation? Neither the Afghan government nor Taliban are inclined to peace. Peace comes when the parties leave their personal interests and not impose their demands on each other. Afghan government leaders are thinking about filling their own pockets. In the presidential elections, the ruling team received 600,000 legitimate votes and other 300,000 votes were fraudulent. Think yourself; is the nation with the government? From among more than 20 million eligible voters in the country, only one million people participated in the elections. Over the past twenty years, people have come to realize that these candidates do not care about the country and the people, but they care about their personal interests. People who had been washing dogs and working as laborers in the West came here and were appointed as ministers and deputy ministers. Every one of them embezzled millions of dollars and took them out of the country. They talk about the protection of the democratic system every day. What democratic system are they talking about? The system in which hundreds of people are killed every day? The system in which corruption has reached to its peak? The system which wants freedom for the women of other people and raped female football players? The system that appoints inexperienced girls as deputies in the security ministries. The system in which armed robbers kill people every day in the

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If we look at reality, the Afghan government does not want to make peace with Taliban and form a new government. Leaders of the Afghan government want Taliban to surrender to them. You see that, on one hand, the government’s negotiating team is holding talks with Taliban in Qatar, and on the other hand, Afghan government officials, the president and his vice presidents are talking against Taliban and saying bad things about Taliban. At this sensitive time, Afghan government officials should not make such remarks. If the stubborn leaders of the Afghan government continue like this and not accept demands of Taliban, these talks will fail and the war in this country will not end. They will be responsible for the war and problems of the country in the future. The traitorous leaders of the Afghan government are thirsty for power. Dozens of Afghan security forces are killed every day, but they don't care about them. About 40 Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in Maidan Wardak province alone yesterday, as 26 of them were from Andarab district of Baghlan province. Six National Army personnel were killed in Kapisa. The war was going on in fourteen provinces yesterday. About one hundred soldiers of the Afghan National Army and National Police might have been killed. How long the poor people of Afghanistan should be martyred in defending from this corrupt system. Neither Ashraf Ghani nor his vice presidents believe in this country. They are the most corrupt and cruel people on ear

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