Afghans should benefit from reduction of violence: envoy

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: Nicholas Kay, NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, says that both the Afghan security forces and civilians need to see a significant reduction in violence as part of an imminent peace deal between the Taliban and the United States.
In an interview with the Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL), Nicholas Kay said that reduction of violence meant that Afghans could feel and see themselves. “So, a significant reduction in people being attacked and losing their lives and also one imagines that it should also be an enduring thing. Nobody wants this to be a short-term provision. It’s a step eventually toward a complete cease-fire.”
Answering a question that if the reduction of violence was meaning that the Taliban will cease targeting U.S. troops, Afghan troops, or Afghan civilians, Kay said Afghans need to see the benefit of this, adding the majority of violence and enemy-initiated attacks at the moment are against Afghan targets, government forces, and Afghan civilians. “And it’s important in a reduction in violence that the Afghans see that reducing significantly.”
Answering another question that how concerned he was about civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the NATO envoy said the death toll for civilians in the last year was one of the highest ever and unacceptable. “Any civilian casualty is a tragedy. Certainly, NATO in its train, advise, and assist mission gives every advice possible to the Afghan forces on how to avoid and minimize civilian casualties, and that’s because NATO is not a combat mission. We are not fighting, we are training the Afghan forces, and part of the training is to avoid civilian casualties.”
Hinting to feasibility of the U.S. and the Taliban agreement that expected to be signed in February, NATO’s Kay said NATO has fully supported peace efforts, and the U.S. kept NATO fully briefed on what it’s doing. “We hope there will be an agreement signed. And it’s important because it opens the door to intra-Afghan negotiations when the Taliban, the government of Afghanistan, and other Afghans sit at the negotiating table and solve this conflict through negotiation. That is where we need to get, and the U.S. Taliban agreement is a way to open the door to that.”
Replying to a question that if the militant group launches its annual spring offensive in March under a new name, Kay said people have expressed so clearly on so many occasions that they are desperate for peace, adding they have called upon the Taliban to cease their violence. “The Taliban should respect the will of the people. And neither side should be preparing for a spring offensive. Reduction in violence should mean exactly that. A reduction in violence that is noted by the Afghan people and that is enduring. And that would not be compatible with the spring offensive.”
Answering another question of the RFE/RL that many Afghans are concerned about their hard-won rights gained in the past 18 years, especially women are concerned that in any possible potential deal their rights might be compromised, the envoy said when the Afghans sit with the Taliban at the negotiating table, these issues, would be front and center of the negotiations.
“From the point of view of NATO, we want the Afghans to agree something that would be enduring, a peace agreement that will last. Our best advice, as the train, assist, and advise mission, to the Afghans will be to base that agreement on the achievements of the last 18 years: democracy, full respect for human rights, including women’s’ rights, freedom of expression — all of those will lead to lasting peace,” he concluded.

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