After 42 years of political violence, the Afghan people deserve the opportunity to live in peace. My country, the United States has embarked on a noble mission to negotiate a political solution to the costly Afghan conflict with Taliban. In order to achieve a lasting peace in the country, a four- tiered comprehensive approach is needed. The simultaneous active participation of the main players to the Afghan peace process is imperative. Since the US invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001, all players to the Afghan conflict have paid a heavy price in terms of loss of life, use of material resources and the emotional-psychological toll with profound traumatic impact on people. The following players should honestly coordinate peace efforts with firm commitment in Afghanistan.
TIERE ONE-The United States and NATO: As Afghan partners, both the US and NATO countries have spent billions of dollars and have made human sacrifices in order to help the Afghan people. At this point, it is important for both to coordinate peace initiatives together towards a successful conclusion. If there are any policy/procedural differences, it should be addressed. The United States and NATO should display strategic patience in dealing with issues that affect all parties involved in the Afghan conflict. The Afghan regional peace negotiations can even increase mutual understanding and enhance diplomatic confidence between the United States, Iran, Russia, Turkey and China.
TIERE TWO- The Afghan Leadership and the People: Both Drs, Ghani and Abdullah with active participation of the Afghan Parliament, Women Groups, Political Parties, Youth Groups, Civil Societies, Afghan Leaders, Intellectuals and Ulema can hold Focus Groups, Town Hall Meetings and Jirgas, using the Media. The goal of these meetings should include gathering of the sentiments towards peace through Afghan Interim Dialogue. These meetings will provide the opportunity for people to express feelings and offer recommendations towards a viable peace. Generating peace consensus enhances confidence and trust towards the process and builds public goodwill towards the Afghan leadership and as well as towards USA-NATO which is needed at the juncture. The Afghan people have paid a heavy price during the 42-year conflict and they welcome peace providing their concerns and fears are addressed.
TIERE THREE-The Taliban: Unfortunately, a good number of Afghans do not have good memory of the four year of Taliban rule in their country. It is necessary for the Taliban leadership to allay the Afghan fears by communicating to the Afghans about their philosophy of governance and what lessons they have learned from the mistakes of the past. Mr. Stanikzay should further explain to the Afghan people the Taliban’s system of governance in the context of the Afghan culture and Islam. Most important, the Taliban leadership should respond to the specific list of concerns of the Afghans emerging during the inter-Afghan dialogue.
TIERE FOUR-The Regional Countries: The United States-NATO, the Afghan leadership, the Taliban must enroll the active participation and support of the regional neighbors in the Afghan peace process. Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia, China, Turkey and the Central Asian Nations should serve as guarantors of the Afghan peace process. Their genuine support for the Afghan peace process will strengthen regional cooperation with positive impact on lessening of some existing political tensions in the region. Pakistan must realize that the fate and security of their nation is intertwined with peace in Afghanistan.
Important Points to consider:
- Ceasefire: The Afghan leadership should set an immediate target date for releasing the Taliban prisoners. The Taliban should do the same. As a sign of goodwill by both parties, a cease fire for three months should take place.
- Taliban are the sons of the Afghan Nation too. They must cease and desist killing innocent people. They have to prove to the people that they are truly the sons of this wounded nation. They can play an important role in the healing process. Both the Afghan people and the Taliban are the victims of unnecessary conspiracy imposed by outsiders. Further the Taliban can play an important role in alleviating corruption and drugs that have stolen the soul of the nation with profound negative psychosocial consequences and miscarriage of justice due to many factors
- Economic Package for the Next Five Years: Peace in Afghanistan will bring economic prosperity. While planning towards economic self-sufficiency, the Afghan leadership will continue to depend on foreign aid at least for the next five-year period. The international community can serve as partners with the Afghan leadership on improving the Afghan exports, promoting tourism and exploring the rich natural resources that can produce income and improve the quality of Afghan life.
- The International Community Should Assist with Effective Governance: There are many intelligent and educated young men and women in Afghanistan who feel marginalized. Providing the necessary resources and professional training that would enhance their governance capacity is useful. The international community can help the Afghan leadership design a five-year plan for incorporating the Afghan youths in the government system.
- The Afghan Investors Should Help Homeland: Hopefully, peace in the country will encourage outside Afghan investors to concentrate on business in their homeland. The United States and NATO should encourage the Afghan businesses by providing incentives.
The fate of the Afghan people in my country of birth will mostly depend on the leadership of my current country, the United States. If we assert moral leadership in tackling the Afghan problems in a just and comprehensive manner towards a viable peace, we will succeed. I wish the United States-NATO, the Afghan leadership, the Taliban and the neighboring countries of Afghanistan goodspeed in this holy journey.
Dr. Matin Royeen