Kabul: Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), called on the international community not to remain indifferent to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to send a clear message to the Taliban about peace.
Abdullah made the remarks on Tuesday at a joint meeting of Afghan peace partners in Doha, Qatar. The first day of the three-day summit was attended by representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Russia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Qatar. During his speech at the meeting, Abdullah accused the Taliban of violating their commitments to speed up negotiations and a political solution to the Afghan issue.
According to Abdullah, the Taliban, in violation of their commitments, have intensified war and violence and launched offensive attacks on cities. Abdullah added that the current war has led to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with thousands displaced, killed or wounded, and the Taliban committing crimes.
Abdullah added, “Thousands of terrorists, along with the constant presence of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, from Jaish-e-Muhammad to Lashkar-e-Taiba, have entered Afghanistan and are fighting against our people.” Abdullah stressed that all political leaders and parties in the country prioritize peace, but that the continuation of the current situation and the ambiguity in the peace process are not acceptable to the people. According to him, people have serious questions about the continuation of fruitless and unilateral efforts.
Referring to the danger of the crisis spreading, he stressed that no country, including the countries present at today’s meeting, will benefit from the current crisis in Afghanistan. He has called on the Taliban to put their plan for a political solution on the table and accept the presence of a mediator in the talks.
Representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Russia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Qatar have expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the escalation of hostilities. They called for an immediate end to the war and called for speeding up peace efforts.
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Representatives of these organizations and countries have called for an immediate resumption of peace talks, an immediate cessation of violence, the formation of a comprehensive government, and a political solution. They also stressed that war is not the solution and that they are ready to contribute to the reconstruction of post-peace Afghanistan.
Also, at the invitation of Dr. Mutlaq Al Qahtani, Qatari Special Envoy for Counter Terrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan is in Doha to participate in the Regional Conference on Afghanistan and meeting of Troika Plus. Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mr. Mansoor Ahmed Khan is accompanying the Special Representative.
On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office told Al Jazeera TV on Tuesday that the group is committed to the negotiation path in Doha and does not want it to collapse. A member of the Afghan government delegation in the Doha negotiations also spoke to the Qatar-based channel, saying the government demands a mediator in the negotiations “to determine the seriousness of the parties.”
The Taliban spokesman said that “it was the government that rejected the principle of a mediator, not the Taliban,” according to Al Jazeera. “We ask the international community to accurately assess the reality on the ground,” he added. The Afghan government delegation member told Al Jazeera that the “Taliban has no interest in negotiating, but rather in achieving its goals with violence. The international community should pressure the Taliban to show seriousness.”
Also, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the United Nations said it remains in touch with stakeholders in Afghanistan to find a political solution to the conflict. During a press briefing, Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday said, “We continue to be in touch with all the parties, whether in Afghanistan or regional parties in an effort to find a political solution.”
The spokesperson also said the facts on the ground in Afghanistan as reported are “extremely worrying” and “extremely concerning”, Sputnik reported. “All this should be a reminder for the parties to actually focus on the political process,” Dujarric added.
This comes even as NATO has termed the security situation in Afghanistan “difficult and challenging” and called on the Taliban to cease their attacks. “We share the deep concern expressed by the UN Security Council about the high levels of violence caused by the Taliban’s military offensive, including attacks on civilians, and reports of other serious human rights abuses,” a NATO official told dpa in Brussels. There is no military solution to the conflict, the official asserted.
“The Taliban must understand that they will never be recognized by the international community if they reject the political process and try to take the country by force. They must cease their attacks and take part in peace talks in good faith.” The NATO official called for an “inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”
Such a peace process needed to make urgent progress towards a ceasefire and a political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists. “We call on all regional actors to play a constructive role, since a stable and secure Afghanistan is to everybody’s benefit,” the official added.
Last month the latest round of rejuvenated intra-Afghan negotiations failed to deliver a breakthrough, with the Afghan government and the Taliban only vowing via a joint statement to continue to expedite high-level peace talks in Doha. A joint statement issued after two days of talks said the two sides also vowed to safeguard civilian lives, infrastructure, and delivery of services in the war-ravaged country.
But, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy, traveled to Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, to tell the group that there was no point in pursuing victory on the battlefield because a military takeover of the capital of Kabul would guarantee they will be global pariahs. He and others hope to persuade Taliban leaders to return to peace talks with the Afghan government as American and NATO forces finish their pullout from the country.
The success of the Taliban blitz has added urgency to the need to restart the long-stalled talks that could end the fighting and move Afghanistan toward an inclusive interim administration. The new pressure from Khalilzad follows condemnations from the international community and a similar warning from the United Nations that a Taliban government that takes power by force would not be recognized. The insurgents have so far refused to return to the negotiating table.
Khalilzad’s mission in Qatar is to “help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan,” according to the U.S. State Department. He plans to “press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement, which is the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan,” the State Department said.