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September 19, 2018
The Kabul Times
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Only Afghan-led process can bring peace in Afghanistan

The issue of peace talks with Taliban has changed now to one of controversial issues that have taken long period of time and followed by big political and economic budgets. Although Afghan government has made lots of efforts towards providing facilities for peace talks with armed opponent groups in the past several years, the efforts unfortunately have ended with no considerable results both in national and international level.
But, hopes have increased after National Unity Government (NUG) was formed as leaders of NUG have been able to absorb the support of many countries for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Their efforts paid off and the Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation declared their support and shown preparations for cooperation the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. They also condemned the ongoing war and called it against the principle of Islam.
Pointing to a recent report published by The New York Times on US-Taliban direct talks, the government said that the US wants peace talks with the Taliban to be led by the Afghan government, dismissing reports that Washington was open to holding direct talks with the militants to end the 17-year war.
The government officials said the United States of America was jointly working with Afghanistan on a strategy for peace process, adding any talks that will be held about the political future of Afghanistan will be between the Afghan government and the Taliban under the leadership of the Afghan government.
Meanwhile, the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, in a statement, also rejected media reports that quoted him talking about engaging the Taliban in direct talks.
A number of regional countries, including neighbors of Afghanistan and that of super powers are interfering in internal affairs of the country and mostly sabotaging any efforts of the Afghan government’s peace plans that can bring peace and stability to the country. 
Nevertheless, Afghan political experts believe that no efforts will succeed until all sides do not reach understanding and agreement for peace talks, saying that if peace talks are followed independently by the government of Afghanistan and political parties of the country, undoubtedly the process will succeed as Afghans themselves know they can address all problems and challenges through national unity.
It is the time for Taliban to choose their path. The way forward shouldn’t be more of the same: violence and bloodshed. Instead, Afghanistan’s message to them is clear: The Afghan government and people want peace and they seek to achieve that peace through direct talks with the authoritative leadership of the Taliban.
The best venue for these face-to-face peace talks is in Afghanistan or at a location mutually acceptable to both sides. Addressing the national and international conferences, President Ghani time and again encouraged the Taliban to step forward for peace talks while warning the terror group that the government was “offering a chance for peace but … must also be clear that this is not an open-ended opportunity.”
It is important to say that ongoing conflicts and violence could be solved only by Afghans themselves to reach a lasting solution sans any foreign intervention.

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