Afghanistan facing last opportunities for peace, says Abdullah

KABUL (TOLOnews): In a message for Eid, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said on Monday that Afghanistan is experiencing its “last opportunities” for peace and a political settlement. On Sunday, a two-day, high-level negotiation ended between Republic and Taliban delegates in Doha.
“The last opportunities remain for a political settlement and an enduring peace in Afghanistan,” Abdullah said. “The people of Afghanistan are expecting the peace negotiations to be expedited so the opportunity is not missed.”
Abdullah said no excuse remains for the continuation of violence as international forces are leaving.
He added that the continuation of violence, bloodshed and the destruction of infrastructure, public assets and the Afghan people’s achievements is a stance against the development and honor of Afghanistan.
Abdullah said the solution to the ongoing conflict is not through military means and that no group can reach its goal militarily.
“The solution to the 43 years of crisis in Afghanistan is through constructive and meaningful talks and a political settlement,” Abdullah reiterated. “Insisting on a military option shows that necessary lessons have not been learned from more than four decades of conflict (in Afghanistan).”
The negotiations in Doha, which were led by Abdullah on the Afghan Republic side and by Abdul Ghani Baradar for the Taliban, resulted in an agreement to expedite the peace efforts and continue high-level talks. However, this outcome fell short of meeting the people’s expectations for the meeting, especially amid increasing violence in the country.
The two sides issued a short joint statement in which they agreed to continue high-level talks on peace, but there was no mention of the de-escalation of violence or a ceasefire.
Moreover, Reuters reports that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the Taliban should “end the occupation of their brothers’ soil,” and played down a warning from the militant group of consequences if Turkish troops remain in Afghanistan to run Kabul airport.
“(The Taliban) need to end the occupation of their brothers’ soil and show the world that peace is prevailing in Afghanistan right away,” Erdogan told reporters before leaving for a trip to northern Cyprus, as quoted by Reuters.
Many calls for an immediate ceasefire have been made in recent days amid an unprecedented increase in violence across the country. Diplomatic missions of Afghanistan’s major allies in Kabul, including the United States, in a joint statement on Monday called on the Taliban to end the “ongoing military offensive” and agree to an immediate ceasefire.
A similar call came from a group of religious scholars from around the country at a gathering in Kabul on Monday who said the people will stand against the Taliban if the group continues to insist on a military solution.