KABUL (Pajhwok): Last week revived the hopes of Afghanistan people for peace as civilian casualties declined, an agreement reached on reduction of violence and most importantly Moscow meeting was held in which a political settlement to the conflict was stressed.
Last week, 24 civilians were killed and 59 others injured in 15 attacks in Baghlan, Ghazni, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces.
The government has not spoken about civilian casualties, but Taliban spokesperson ZabihullahMujahid claimed 15 people were killed and three others injured in government forces attacks in six provinces — Herat, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Farah, Jawzjan and Faryab provinces — last week.
In the previous week, 28 civilians were killed and 60 others injured in 10 attacks.
Security forces and Taliban also suffered casualties in these attacks but Pajhwok has no exact figures because authentic and credible information was not available to support facts and figures.
Besides fighting, efforts intensified for peace in Afghanistan last week.
The Moscow meeting was held on March 18 by the Foreign Ministry of Russian Federation. In this meeting, a 12-member government delegation headed by Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), a 10-member Taliban delegation, three member Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) delegation headed by GulbuddinHekmatyar and representatives from the US, China, Russia, Pakistan and Qatar participated.
US, China, Russia and Pakistan issued a statement at the end. The salient features of the statement are
- Peace comes through negotiated political settlement
- The Taliban should refrain from announcing spring offensive to prevent civilian casualties
- These countries don’t support the revival of Islamic Emerate in Afghanistan
- Through intra-Afghan talks future peace government, ceasefire and other fundamental issues should be discussed
- Women, men, children and war-victims’ rights should be protected during peace talks
HCNR Chairman Abdullah Abdullah and Afghanistan’s foreign ministry welcomed the statement.
Afghan sides views during Moscow Meeting:
- Abdulah Abdullah said fighting was not the way to resolve problems and no one could impose their will on others. Afghanistan’s Islamic Republic stressed over the protection of basic rights of people of Afghanistan, women rights, freedom of expression and future politics and the basis of the will of people and free and fair elections.
- The Taliban’s delegation head Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said ceasefire could be ensured after the establishment of a new Islamic system. He stressed inclusive Islamic government in Afghanistan and added that implementation of Doha Agreement could help resolve the problems of Afghanistan.
- He asked the international community and particularly Afghanistan’s neighbors to help the people of Afghanistan resolve their problems and alleged the other side of Doha Agreement (The US) has not fully implemented the agreement. He stressed efforts should be made for progress of intra-Afghan talks and removal of existing hurdles in its way.
- HIA Head GulbuddinHekmatyar during Moscow Meeting said that power should be transferred to an interim government in Afghanistan peacefully and if foreign forces leave Afghanistan before the peaceful transfer of power the country may face another crisis. He added conflicting sides should agree to unconditional and immediate ceasefire, adding that all sides should adhere to Doha Agreement for durable peace.
- The Taliban’s legitimate demands should be accepted and major issues of the country should be handed over to a supreme and dignified Council.
Effectiveness of Moscow Meeting:
Russia’s special representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said that all sides had held discussions and the most important thing was that the Afghans were ready for peace. He said the Afghan people should be allowed to decide their future.
National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib told reporters: “It was a very good meeting which reflected the aspirations and wishes of the people of Afghanistan.
What the people expected was said in the meeting that the Taliban Emirate would not be repeated, progress and achievements of the people of Afghanistan would be protected and there would be no return to the past.”
Former president Hamid Karzai termed the meeting as successful and added major countries organized the meeting on Afghanistan and it was the reflection of these countries coordination and cooperation on Afghan peace process.
“Pakistan’s participation was a positive development and Turkey and Qatar presence as observers was another positive thing. All of these were the points that proved the meeting as successful,” he said.
“The end statement talked about a bright and good future for Afghanistan and messages of peace, stability and development were conveyed” he noted.
Reduction in Violence:
Azadi Radio which covered the meeting reported that the Taliban and the US had agreed over a new security pact through which the Taliban would not attack major cities and district centres for three months.
A well-placed source in the Afghan delegation also confirmed the agreement and said the Taliban agreed to do this in order to make sure their remaining 7,000 prisoners were released and the names of their leaders removed from the UN black lists.
According to the report, the Taliban said if foreign forces did not leave Afghanistan by May 1, the group will resume their attacks and make sure that Doha Agreement was enacted.
But the Taliban Political Office Spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Naeem said: “This is not a ceasefire, it is said that from our side a new strategy has been proposed through which all sides would decrease military operations and all articles of Doha Agreement would be implemented.”
“There is no need for more details in this regard and the pullout of foreign forces had been finalized in Doha Agreement. They will leave Afghanistan in line with the agreement.”
Besides continued fighting, last week had positive messages with regard to peace for the people of Afghanistan.