2019 saw an unprecedented number of civilian casualties, with thousands of Afghan civilians losing their lives. We, therefore, welcome any steps to reduce the levels of violence in Afghanistan. We know that the impact of this violence is long-term, inter-generational and affects communities in immeasurable ways.
We also welcome the news that the Taliban has committed to a reduction of violence, as a first step towards peace. We ask that they demonstrate this commitment beyond the winter months, as these months habitually see a decrease in extensive warfare.
Whilst the full contents of the US-Taliban deal have yet to be made public, we demand the following as fundamental to any next steps in order to create the conditions for sustainable peace:
We have been working on creating an environment for peace and stability in our country for many years, and want to see an end to the bloodshed. The US-Taliban deal is only a first step, and it should set conditions that support, not undermine, a sustainable peace, that can protect and advance the gains of the last 18 years. This will only be possible if we maintain the democratic rights we have worked hard to create, which must include a legitimate government, elected by the people of Afghanistan, to take peace forward. Any deal that undermines our democracy, however fragile it may be, is not one that will lead to peace.
The foundations of a national-level peace process are now being laid, and it must align with our hopes for the future, rather than create more uncertainty and fear. We have been peace-building within our communities for decades. Our knowledge, expertise and experience will be invaluable in ensuring an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led, and Afghan-maintained, peace. There is no other way forward.