Millions of Afghans are anticipating that America’s longest war fought in their country will end on Saturday as U.S. and Taliban negotiators are expected to sign a deal to allow a U.S. troop reduction and a permanent ceasefire.
If the U.S.-Taliban agreement gets signed, then Afghanistan, which has been at war since American bombings began in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will witness the potential end of violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
A 31-member Taliban delegation arrived in Qatar on Saturday to oversee the signing of the troop withdrawal deal, said officials of the hardline Islamist group, adding that their political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will sign the agreement on their behalf.
The signing ceremony between the warring sides is set to take place at the Sheraton hotel in Qatar’s capital of Doha.
Photographs from the venue showed a large banner stating “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” placed in a conference room adjoining the hotel. Security has been tightened outside the hotel as hotel guests, journalists and government officials thronged the lobby.
Security experts said the deal is a foreign policy gamble for U.S. President Donald Trump and would give the Taliban international legitimacy.
But for millions of Afghans it opens a possibility to end the ongoing struggle of coping with fear, anxiety and violence.
“Peace is extremely simple and my country deserves it. Today is the day when maybe we will see a positive change,” said Javed Hassan, 38, a school teacher living on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.
Hassan’s children were killed in a bomb blast carried out by the Taliban in 2018. Since then, he has been writing letters to world leaders urging them to end the Afghan war that has dominated the landscape of the land-locked country.
Saturday’s deal could be the first step towards resetting Afghanistan’s future as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to witness the signing of the agreement and prepare the ground for a political settlement between the warring sides.