The armed opposition includes two types of group. The first type is those who have been forced to take up arms by rivals who have abused government power to oppress them and obliged them to defend themselves. Dealing with this first group is relatively straightforward as long as the government adopts an inclusive approach and is prepared to listen to facts. It should be prepared to treat the Taliban in the peace zone with respect and guarantee the security of their life and property.
The second group within the armed opposition is those men who have become professional fighters, who have been employed from outside and who perceive their own benefit in the continuation of the war. It is more difficult to convince these men. However, I am confident that with a solution to the problems of the first group it will become much easier to deal with the professional fighters.
So far we have seen no official indication from the Taliban that they endorse the idea of negotiations or peace. There has been nothing of the sort from their office in Qatar. However, the reality is that a majority within the Taliban want to see an end to the war. If only a way can be found to bring them into the country I am confident that they will embrace the peace process.
The government has changed its position and has outlined it new proposals for peace both in the Kabul Process and the Tashkent conference. The foreigners have also started to talk about these issues and have given indications that they may be ready to accept the start of intra-Afghan negotiations. But the Taliban want to negotiate with the Americans.
The Taliban ought to have taken the position that the foreigners should cut their interference both in politics and in the war. They should have insisted that negotiations among Afghans go ahead without foreign interference. Instead they continue to insist that they will not negotiate with the government and insist on negotiating with the Americans.
It is impossible to move to a ceasefire without it being preceded by a peace agreement. Therefore, what is needed is a general plan for peace, which can be negotiated. When agreement is reached on this general plan, which can include a ceasefire as part of the over-all package, then we can proceed to ceasefire implementation. Without such agreement having been reached, it is unrealistic to expect either the Taliban or the government to jump directly to
a ceasefire. On the other hand, once we have agreement through negotiations on a general peace deal, then it will be possible to move to a ceasefire.
The first necessity is to create appropriate conditions for all the parties involved in the government and the armed opposition to come together under one roof, evaluate the Afghan situation with patience and start negotiations. I have tried. I came to Kabul in the hope that I would be able to gather all parties, including those of the right and the left, mujahidin and non-mujahidin, and those who had a greater or lesser role in the war of the past 40 years. Regrettably only a few parties accepted my plan and I had no reply at all from those aligned with foreigners.
I have now convinced a few of the parties that we should have a joint sitting. I hope that even if we cannot reach agreement on the overriding national issues, we should be able to agree on ensuring that the forthcoming elections are held transparently and on time, so that we can finally put in place an effective parliament. I hope that we shall also agree that such elections must be the only way to achieve power. We must agree that from now on it is unacceptable to use force, whether through a coup d’etat, rebellion, tanks and fighter planes, or foreign backers. We must enter into an accepted covenant with the nation and people. This is what I am working on for now.