It can also be referred to as an important political breakthrough in bringing in a warring group that controlled more than 90% of Afghanistan just a decade ago. Despite reservations about the outcome of the new effort, many Afghans are happy that now there is at least a physical address where a peace deal can be negotiated.
However, after the opening of the Taliban office in Doha, the elected government in Kabul is, and for the right reasons, seriously concerned about the “Afghanism” of the negotiations as well as the eventual peace settlement established well outside the borders of Afghanistan.
Right time for negotiations with the Taliban?
Afghans have learned that negotiation is a better alternative to wars. If this was done decades ago, Afghanistan’s descent into chaos in the 1980s and 1990s would have been avoided.
Most have learned that war is not a solution and its gains are only temporary. Instead, negotiations and democracy through the ballot box is a better alternative to seeking power.
Considering the difficulties of military action for peace in Afghanistan, many here in Afghanistan now understand that negotiations with all groups should have been an integral part of the international community’s re-engagement in Afghanistan in early 2002.
Done correctly and carefully, it might have alienated the warring group from considering armed resistance as the other alternative to regain power.
The Doha effort is a better initiative. However, it must make sure that negotiations are Afghan acceptable to all Afghans; otherwise, it risk being just another wishful event for peace.
What do Afghans expect from a peace deal in Doha?
Afghans are tired of the looming conflict in their country, and having have to migrate to others countries either for survival, a better life or a job. Instead, an overwhelming majority of Afghans want lasting peace that generates hope for a better tomorrow. Also, Afghans expect a peace settlement that enables them to rebuild their society that is equal, tolerant and prosperous.
However, unlike the past, Afghans do not want a compromise on their basic human liberties. Both Afghan men and women want to live in constitutional freedom and continue to build on their unprecedented gains of the past decade. A compromise on those may not lead to a peace settlement that is just or lasting.
The Doha effort could be a positive development for bringing peace to Afghanistan if it is in sync with Afghan ideals for a peaceful society. It is also a superior alternative to war, and an opportunity to mobilize the warring group into participation in the democratic process of Afghanistan.
However, any discussions, negotiations and decisions made at Doha must be completely aligned with the aspirations of the Afghan people and with the requirements of the Afghan constitution. Otherwise, it would just be another wishful effort for peace in Afghanistan.