Afghanistan At The Crossroad Between Peace And Civil War
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
We are at a very important juncture in the history of Afghanistan, its people, the region, and the Muslim ummah.
Afghanistan had been ravaged by decades of occupation and wars since 1978 that began with the Saur Revolution and continued with the Soviet-Afghan war, civil wars, and the United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Now, after 20 years, the US Government have announced their military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
This means, for the next couple of months, Afghanistan’s state of security will be precarious.
More and more district capitals are expected to fall to the Taliban, creating greater insecurity which could consequently lead to another humanitarian crisis. This must be avoided.
The people of Afghanistan deserve peace, stability, and sovereignty. They have endured a difficult half-a-century and learned the profound cost of war.
Thus the US military withdrawal will be a crucial turning point in their history. It is a unique opportunity for the Afghan leaders, no matter which group they belong to, and the Afghan people, to determine what is best for their country.
The Afghan conflicts cannot be solved by the Americans, the Europeans or anyone else. It must be solved by the Afghans, led by the Afghan people and guided by Afghan virtues.
Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has been moving backwards.
The way forward then must include an inclusive political solution, the end of insecurity and the establishment of a functioning government. Moving away firmly from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain lasting peace and prosperity.
Peace cannot be achieved by means of force. It requires genuine understanding and effort. Unfortunately the Doha peace process has been slow and the broader prospects for meaningful negotiations appear dim.
Negotiations cannot be “another continuation of war by other means”. The Afghans cannot come to the negotiation table with further divisions, more infightings, greater intimidation and threats towards each other.
They owe it to the people of Afghanistan to once and for all, turn the page on decades of war – nothing less than that.
Even though there will still be dark days ahead- the light of peace, stability and security can be seen from the distance.
For that, all parties must now reconvene immediately to reconcile, reinforce and complement the current peace process, or at least to find common ground.
The Doha, Istanbul or Tehran sponsored negotiations must also restart, and should have the objectives to further solidify and potentially lay the foundation for a permanent and just settlement to the conflicts.
Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China, India and many other Muslim countries should continue to engage all parties to the conflicts, so as to never abandon the prospects of a peaceful Afghanistan.
Apart from that, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Muslim countries should also extend their solidarity to the peace initiatives and provide the necessary assistance.
The withdrawal of the American occupiers should not mark the beginning of a new conflict era. Instead, it should be a new era of reconciliation, peace and development.
Let’s not forget that this is also a big move for the stability of the Islamic region.
Hopefully it will lead to a responsible end to these long wars. It is also hoped that all Afghan refugees scattered along the border in Pakistan and Iran will finally have a peaceful country with good living conditions to return to.
Now it is time for the Afghans to prove themselves to the rest of the world that they could deliver a better government, a functioning state and a prosperous society. It is an opportunity for all parties, to prioritise people’s safety and wellbeing over power and political differences.
By Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad (Founding Director, Bait Al-Amanah) and Duha Allawi (Independent Journalist and Researcher)