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Despite being bloodiest, last week revives hopes

Despite being bloodiest, last week revives hopes

author avatar
28 Feb 2021 - 16:41
Despite being bloodiest, last week revives hopes
author avatar
28 Feb 2021 - 16:41

KABUL (Pajhwok): Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government sides resumed last week after 36 days of stalemate with positive statements from the insurgent group and Afghan president, but the week was more violent for civilians than the previous one.

President Ashraf Ghani made soft statements about peace last week, and the Taliban ordered their fighters not to harbor foreign insurgents in their ranks.

During the week, foreign efforts to advance the peace process mostly centered on Pakistan and the new US president, Joe Biden, strongly supported the diplomatic process for ending the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

However, the week was more violent than the previous week, causing casualties to both the conflict sides as well civilians.

Attacks and civilian casualties:

Pajhwok Afghan News recorded civilian casualties based on its own reports and figures published by other media outlets last week.

The reports show that last week (starts from 12am previous Friday until 12am last Friday), 12 civilians were killed and 37 others injured in 12 attacks. The attacks happened in 10 provinces.

Thirty of civilians suffered casualties in explosions and 19 others in targeted attacks. No one claimed credit for these attacks.

Six civilians were killed included elderly men and a child while the injured included a man, three women and five children. There is no information about the gender and age of 33 other people.

The most violent attack was on the house of a slain journalist, Bismillah Adil Imaq in Ghor province, that left three family members of Imaq killed and 10 others injured.

This was more violent than the previous week when Pajhwok findings show 13 people were killed and 25 others injured in 13 attacks. One of these attacks happened in Balkh, one in Herat, three in Nangarhar, one in Kapisa, three in Kabul, one in Helmand and three in Kandahar provinces.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed seven civilians were killed and as many others injured in Afghan forces’ attacks last week. A number of children were also injured in these attacks in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, he said, without giving details.

He said civilian casualties caused by Afghan forces happened in Janikhel district of Paktia province, Garbaz district of Khost, Najrab district of Kapisa, Hesarak district of Nangarhar, Andar district of Ghazni and Bati Kot district of Nangarhar province.

Pajhwok twice asked Rahmatullah Andar, a spokesman for National Security Council (NSC), about their figures for civilian casualties last week, but he is yet to provide the information.

The warring sides also suffered casualties in the conflict, but Pajhwok does not publish their figures as no accurate information on the regard is on the ground.

What is going on in Doha?

As war continues, efforts are also made about peace.

Intra-Afghan talks in Doha, international level efforts for peace in Afghanistan and an end to conflict also gave the Afghan people hopes for peace.

Pajhwok launched weekly reporting series about war and peace to inform people on both fronts.

Good news for the Afghans last week was resumption of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha after more than a month long stalemate.

Intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government were launched on September 12 of 2020. The two sides were able to agree only on the procedural rules of negotiations during first three months of talks and second round of negotiations started on January 5, after 20 days of recess of the two teams.

However, after two meetings between the two teams, the talks deadlocked for 36 days without clear reasons.

Taliban and Afghan negotiators held a fourth meeting on February 22 and the two sides now work on agenda for the next phase of talks.

Dr. Mohammad Naim, Taliban spokesman for its political office in Qatar, and the government’s negotiating team on February 22 said that intra-Afghan negotiations held in a good environment between members and representatives of the two teams.

Both sides said that they emphasized on continuation of negotiations, and contact groups were tasked to continue their meetings on preparing discussion topics for the agenda.

This comes as Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR), a day earlier of the meeting, asked for resumption of negotiations.

A number of politicians, political parties and civil society institutes criticized delay in negotiations as some of them blamed the Taliban for halts and said that the group’s representatives’ trips to some regional countries caused the postponement of talks. However, Taliban say that they are committed for peace talks.

Government’s efforts and statements on peace:

A number of senior government officials last week made anxious statements about peace but President Ashraf Ghani said that conditions about the peace process were promising.

Ghani has repeatedly said that the power transition should be made based on the law with election. However, some figures criticized Ghani’s stance on peace and said that the president struggled for completing his five-year term while peace required sacrifices and may require an interim government.

However, Ghani in an interview with BBC on February 22 said that he had no interest in power and there was chance for peace and the conditions were also promising on the regard.

He said that he gave a higher importance to peace over his presidency and “The future would be made by Afghans, not by those who are behind the table and see dreams.”

On February 20, he in a video conference with Afghan forces he said that the Taliban would not allow an interim government.

Mohammad Omar Daudzai, Afghanistan’s special representative for Pakistan, on February 24 traveled to Pakistan and talked with high profile Pakistani officials about war and peace in Afghanistan.

Two days after his trip to Pakistan, Daduzai told BBC that Pakistan’s efforts were going positively towards the Afghan peace process and it had been improved compared to the past.

Before leaving for Pakistan, Daudzai had said that he would ask the Pakistani side to encourage a temporary ceasefire with the Taliban.

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said earlier this week that without Pakistan’s support, the Taliban would not be able to survive as an armed group for six months.

According to Saleh, there are no signs of a decline in Pakistan’s military, logistical, medical, educational and military support for the Taliban.

Pakistan has denied such allegations in the past.

Efforts to strengthen consensus for peace:

Last week, President Ghani met with Mohammad Yunus Qanuni, a former vice president and leading member of the Jamiat-e-Islami party, and Mohammad Karim Khalili, the leader of the Islamic Unity Party, on peace issues and the national consensus on peace

The third meeting was held in Kabul to strengthen the political consensus in support of the peace process.

The meeting was attended by the head of the delegation of the Islamic Republic and some members, the head of the National Reconciliation High Council and ambassadors of a number of countries and representatives of international organizations.

The participants called for a regional consensus to support the Afghan peace process and expressed concern over the continuing violence.

But National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said the Taliban leadership did not want peace in Afghanistan. He said the Afghan government was committed to peace talks and that the Taliban should stop fighting and harassing people.

The Afghan National Security Council (ANSC) on Tuesday termed as ineffective the Doha accord between the United States and the Taliban in securing peace in Afghanistan because the Afghan government had not been consulted.

Taliban Actions and Remarks on Peace:

Last week, it was reported that the Taliban’s military commission had ordered the rebels in all provinces not to include foreign fighters in their ranks.

TOLOnews reported that the commission had received a copy of the decision, stating that the provincial Taliban officials would be fired, their structures dissolved and they would be referred to the military commission for punishment in case they violated the decision.

Taliban spokesmen have not yet commented on the matter.

Under the Doha Agreement, the Taliban have agreed not to allow any group or individual, including Al Qaeda to enter US territory from Afghanistan and threatens the security of US allies.

Edmund Fitton Brown, co-ordinator of the UN Monitoring Group, said last week that the Taliban had not cut ties with Al Qaeda.

But the Taliban have previously denied any links to foreign fighters.

What was going on internationally last week about peace?

Last week, the United States backed the diplomatic process to end the war in Afghanistan and international efforts to bring peace to the country focused on talks with Pakistani officials.

US President Joe Biden told a security conference in Munich earlier this week that his government strongly supports the ongoing diplomatic process to end the war in Afghanistan.

But he added: “We have to make sure that Afghanistan is never again the target of a terrorist attack against the interests and allies of the United States.”

He made the remarks on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers that did not announce a final decision on Afghanistan, but reiterated their commitment to supporting the Afghan National Army.

Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, Qatar’s special envoy to Afghanistan, also spoke to Pakistani army chief General Javed Qamar Bajwa and other senior officials about the Afghan peace process.

Gen. Bajwa assured that Pakistan would play its positive role in the Afghan peace process.

The commander of US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie also spoke to Pakistani Army Chief General Bajwa about Afghan peace, and the two military leaders emphasized the need for a political solution to the Afghan conflict.

It is noteworthy that diplomatic efforts for peace in Afghanistan have recently intensified.

Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, also spoke to Pakistani officials about peace in Afghanistan.


The war is still raging, threatening people’s lives and so far the hopes of war-torn Afghans for a ceasefire have not been fulfilled, but last week the people once again expected steps towards peace.

In addition to peace efforts, the stalled peace talks in Doha have resumed, with President Ghani expressing more optimism about peace than ever before and the Taliban ordering their own people to implement the Doha accords, including cutting ties with foreign fighters.



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