Afghanistan has made eye-catching progress in every sector since 2001, but the country still remains the regional and global frontline in fight against terrorism, narcotics, and criminality. Thousands of innocent Afghans, including women and children, have been killed and wounded, due to non-stop terrorist attacks on Afghan villages, towns, cities, as well as public and private institutions.
The country’s neighbors fail to act on the fact that a stable Afghanistan ensures and enables a stable region. Even though consensus on the need to stabilize Afghanistan often emerges in rhetoric, it hardly translates into tangible results for achieving durable peace, which the Afghan people desire the most.
The Afghan government time and again has called upon Taliban and those countries having influence on them to make peace a reality in the war-torn country. Despite holding of several peace talks in the country and abroad, the peace still remained elusive as Taliban’s supporting states lacked honesty in the process.
Facing much pressures from US and the allies, Pakistan has shown green light to once again resume the peace process. Recently a meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) is due in Muscat, the capital of Oman, next week to discuss Afghanistan’s peace process after a long gap, an official said on Monday.
The group, involving senior officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US, last met in May 2016 in Islamabad, when they had agreed to give peace a chance.
In their fourth meeting that held in Kabul in February 2016, the group announced that representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents would meet in Islamabad by the first week of March for direct talks. But it did not happen and the Afghan government accused Pakistan of not honoring its promises made at such meetings and withdrew from the process.
According to Afghan officials, the Muscat meeting will define goals for the next three months and discuss making a mechanism for continued negotiations. The meeting would be attended by delegations from the Afghan government and the High Peace Council (HPC).
There is no doubt that when sources of support for terrorism dry up, militants would automatically be compelled to opt for a win-win political solution through peace talks. Afghanistan needs nothing less for sustainable peace to take root in the country and the rest of the region.
Meanwhile sincere regional cooperation is essential for ensuring that any joint peace efforts will bear the results Afghanistan and the region ultimately seek. And that is an end to the suffering of the Afghan people, which would enable them to further consolidate their hard-earned gains of the past 16 years, in continued partnership with the international community.
Taliban must realize that they cannot win militarily. The way forward shouldn’t be more of the same: violence and bloodshed. Instead, Afghans’ message to them is clear that the Afghan government and people want peace; that they seek to achieve peace through direct talks with the authoritative leadership of the Taliban; and that the best venue for their face-to-face peace talks is in Afghanistan or at a location mutually acceptable to both sides.