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Finally permanent peace in Afghanistan

N. P. Upadhyaya-  The Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani claims that he has won the Presidential elections held some five to six months ago.However, Ghani’s nearest rival and opponent Abdullah Abdullah rejects the dissemination of the news that Ghani has won the elections for the Afghan Presidency.

Abdullah claims that he has won the President elections.

Elections in Afghanistan were held some five months ago whose official result has just been made by the Election Commission this February 18/20120 which has declared that Ashraf Ghani has won the poll with great margin over his nearest rival Abdullah.

Writes Emma Graham Harrison for the Guardian daily on February 18/20120 that “five months after Afghans went to the polls to choose a new president, election authorities have declared the incumbent, Ashraf Ghani, the winner, but his main opponent has rejected the result and said he will form his own “inclusive government”.

Emma further writes in her report made for the Guardian that after a heavily contested poll, Ghani officially scraped just over 50% of votes, averting a second round run-off. But hours after the election results were announced, rival Abdullah Abdullah declared himself the victor which thus damages the prospects of nearing peace agreement in between the United States and the warring Taliban(s).

On Tuesday February 18/2020, Afghan election authorities said Ghani won 50.64% of the vote, or 923,592 ballots, while Abdullah received 39.52%, or 720,841 ballots.

The clash in between Ghani and Abdullah who both have strong pockets of their followers scattered inside Afghanistan may disturb the peace negotiations that is apparently very close to be signed in a very short time.

However, when the US and the Talibans were signing the much awaited peace deal is not clear yet informed sources in the region say that the US is more than willing to end its presence in Afghanistan by providing some political concessions to the Talibans.

The chances for the signing of the peace deal is more likely in that the US President Donald Trump is all set to make a two-day visit to the Indian Union beginning 24 February.

According to Kathy Gannon and Mathew Lee for the The Diplomat, the countdown to the signing of a peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States on February 29 to end the 18 years of war in Afghanistan will begin at midnight Friday, when a seven-day “reduction of violence” promised by the Taliban goes into effect, an Afghan official said.

This means that the countdown has already begun.

After that week long period, the long-sought peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban will be signed in Doha, Qatar, paving the way for a withdrawal of U.S. troops and intra-Afghan negotiations, a senior U.S. State Department official said, writes Kathy Gannon and Mathew Lee for the Diplomat.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal and its details, add the news source for the Diplomat.

As of Pakistan, this country plays a central role in an attempt to end the war.

At the same time, the Afghan government hosted a four-day Loya jirga for peace efforts from April 29 to May 3, 2019 last year.

And very freshly, on 21 February 2020, the Afghan National Security Council announced that a week long reduction in violence would begin on 22 February.

In the meanwhile, Al Jazeera on February 20 reported that the United nations has thrown its weight behind a peace process aimed at ending almost 20 years of devastating war in Afghanistan, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling it an opportunity that “cannot” be missed.

The UN Secretary General Guterres was speaking at a high-level international summit in Islamabad, held early this week to mark 40 years of Afghanistan’s southeastern neighbor hosting millions of refugees from armed conflict.

(The Afghan refugee camps could be seen on the way to Taxila from Islamabad-Ed).

The UN chief said, reports Asad Hashim for the Al Jazeera that the international community must help to achieve peace in Afghanistan and aid refugees in Pakistan and Iran.

“No Afghan will forgive us if this opportunity is missed”. The UN Secretary General said in Islamabad.

Notably, the troubled Afghanistan is a respected member of the SAARC regional body whch was made a member of this organization as a Choice of the Indian republic.

The SAARC is almost dead due to Indian arrogance. Nepal is the current Chair of the SAARC regional body. 

Speaking at the same event as Guterres in Islamabad, the Oxford Graduate Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated the resolve of his government – accused for years by the US and Afghanistan of supporting the Taliban – to back the peace process.

“Our security forces are on the same page,” he said in front of the UN Secretary General.

“There was an idea that the security forces in Pakistan had their own policy and the government had their own policy. This is not the case anymore”, PM Khan made it clear

Khan said Pakistan had facilitated the US-brokered peace process, and that “it is not in the interest of Pakistan for there to be any strife in Afghanistan”.

According to Al Jazeera, “For 40 years, the people of Afghanistan have faced successive crises. For 40 years, the people of Pakistan have responded with generosity,” said Guterres, who previously served for 10 years as UNHCR chief. 

He made these observations while being in Islamabad.

In conclusion, the United States appears one step closer to extricating itself from a war in Afghanistan that has spanned nearly two decades and cost thousands of lives and an estimated $2 trillion, writes Robbie Gramer for the Foreign Policy February 21/2020.

He further writes that Washington plans to sign a peace deal with the Taliban on Feb. 29 following the successful implementation of a countrywide reduction in violence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday.

“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afghanistan,” the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter, describing the latest development as an important step on a long road to peace, and calling on Afghans to seize this opportunity” so writes Quint Forgey for Politico.com on February 21/2020.

The nearing peace deal comes after months of grueling negotiations with the Taliban, led by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and hosted in Qatar which was backed by Pakistan.

Remarkably, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday expressed his optimism about peace and stability in Afghanistan through a possible agreement between the United States and Taliban, saying for the first time things were moving in the right direction, reports the daily Times dated 22 February/2020.

What would be more than pleasing is that the Afghans who have been living in various countries, mainly in neighboring Pakistan, as refugees shall have a pleasing chance to enter their lost home some forty years ago.

Kudos to all those who made this US-Taliban peace deal a reality finally.

How President Trump celebrates this occasion shall have to be watched. Will he also give due credit to Pakistan for the laudable role “behind the scene” that this country offered for this nearing peace deal? President Trump though understands the Pakistani contribution but yet his hands are tied for multiple “political” reasons.  Will Trump make a brief stop over in Pakistan upon completion of his India visit beginning tomorrow or will make a separate trip to this country after the US elections? Questions galore but yet let’s wait and see. That’s it.

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