Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, stressed on the need to preserve the achievements of the past 19 years in Afghanistan and said the people will not allow the gains to be rescinded.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the long-awaited intra-Afghan talks that got underway in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, Abdullah said the Afghan negotiating team had come to negotiate “honestly” with the Taliban, to end the bloodshed and bring lasting peace.
“The legitimate demand of our people and the goal of peace is to end all forms of war and violence through political means,” he said, adding that the people wanted a constitutional system in the country that would preserve democracy, elections, women’s rights, minority rights, rule of law, human and civil rights.
“The current war has no winner through war, but a political solution according to the will of the nation has no loser,” he said.
He stressed that both sides will have to respect the will of the people for Afghanistan to move in the right direction.
On the issue of the deal signed between the U.S. and the Taliban, he said people had hoped for peace after this.
“Unfortunately, since then [the signing of the Doha agreement in February], more than 12,000 Afghans have been killed and about 15,000 wounded,” he said.
He told the Taliban that the Afghan government had released thousands of prisoners and thanked the group for releasing the detained security forces.
He added that the cost of the war was not limited to Afghanistan but was a threat to the region and beyond and called for a ceasefire.
“We have to stop violence and agree on a ceasefire as soon as possible. We want a humanitarian ceasefire,” said Abdullah, adding that a ceasefire would allow aid and development programmes to reach all parts of Afghanistan.
He also said that if there was peace established in the country, then there would be no need for the presence of foreign forces.