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Afghan leaders seek political agreement ahead of troop withdrawal

By News Desk
April 19, 2021

KABUL: Afghan politicians hope that the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban will achieve a political agreement on peace ahead of the announced date for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, predicting that an otherwise scenario will not be in the country’s favor.

Former mujahideen leader Mohammad Ismail Khan said that the remaining five months for the full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan should be used as an opportunity for peace in the country, not for fueling war. He warned that Afghanistan will be plunged into another civil war if both sides refrain from entering meaningful talks. Khan, who addressed a gathering of his supporters in Herat—most of whom were armed—said peace is the first choice, but reiterated that the people are ready to fight as well. “There will be peace with high possibility, peace might be in danger, conflicts might intensify.

“If the government remains indifferent to the situation more than this, we should not allow men in our city to be martyred, we should not allow more cities to fall to the Taliban, we should not allow more harm to our people or every day they will migrate,” Khan said. Other political figures, including presidential adviser Mohammad Mohaqiq and Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, have also warned of a civil war after the US forces withdrawal if the situation is not managed well. “A complete civil war can be expected after the withdrawal of foreign forces,” Mohaqiq said.

“The war will be more complicated than the past and more intensive—more bloody than the past,” Massoud said. The Afghan government said that the Taliban is not taking the peace efforts seriously. “The Taliban has not shown any sign for peace. When the Taliban fights, we are responsible of defending our people,” the National Security Council’s spokesman Rahmatullah Andar said. But a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that achieving a peace deal after the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan is one of the priorities of the group but added that the Taliban will select the military option if the efforts could not get the expected outcome.

“There is no way in Afghanistan but through peace. More opposition (groups) will be formed if the Taliban comes to power through fighting,” former Taliban commander Akbar Agha said. Previously, President Ghani said that along with 350,000 security force members, the people are also armed and they will offer a defense from their villages and districts if needed.