Delay in intra-Afghan dialogue


THE process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan has hit a snag due to delay in swap of prisoners between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Disturbed over the situation, the US has called for urgent exchange of prisoners saying it is time to move forward on the key clause of the Taliban-US deal signed last month in Doha.
The prisoners exchange was supposed to take place in the first week of March, ahead of the much talked about intra-Afghan dialogue originally slated for 10 March. The process, however, immediately hit the deadlock after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani refused to abide the Taliban-US deal. Though he relented later, yet with a caveat. He decreed the release of 1500 fighters instead of 5000 as was agreed in the historic peace deal. The Taliban, however, made it clear that they would not enter into any talks unless all of their prisoners are released without any preconditions. This deadlock has since prevented the start of intra-Afghan talks, which are supposed to decide the thorny issues such as the future of Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, the peace deal has provided a springboard for achieving a perennial peace in Afghanistan and it is now up to the Afghan side whether or not they are ready to take advantage of this development. The Afghan people are fed up of decades of conflict, which also compelled them to live as refugees in neighbouring countries. It is, therefore, incumbent especially upon the Afghan government to demonstrate greater flexibility and open heartedness to pave way for the intra-Afghan dialogue. By doing so, the Afghan leadership will be thwarting the designs of the spoilers who are bent upon sabotaging the peace process. Delay will only widen the gaps, mistrust and confusion. This golden opportunity of revival of peace and stability to Afghanistan should not be missed under any circumstances. We also expect that the US and other important countries continue to use their influence on both the parties to meet their commitments for the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue.

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