Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council of National Reconciliation, speaking at an event on Tuesday marking the 19th anniversary of the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, national hero of Afghanistan, said that the peace negotiation team representing the Afghan is expected to sit for peace talks with the Taliban in the next few days.
“InshaAllah, in the next few days, delegations from the two sides are expected to sit outside the country for talks,” said Abdullah.
Abdullah said that Afghanistan has been suffering 40 years of war and violence and that every Afghan citizen, particularly the present generation, has a responsibility to help end the ongoing conflict.
Abdullah said that there is a need for a dignified peace in which every Afghan citizen can see themselves.
At the same event, Amrullah Saleh, the First Vice President, said that peace does not mean compromising values, but reiterated that the government will approach the talks from a strong position, as a democracy.
Saleh stated that if the Taliban believe they are respected by the people, they must consult the people democratically--through voting--to determine their status.
“We want to live in peace, but this does not mean that we ignore the values and bloodshed of tens thousands of those martyred for peace,” said Saleh.
“We will participate in the talks from a strong position. We should make the enemy realize that a republic system is not a system of a few individuals--it has 34 provinces and the people have sacrificed for it. The Taliban should remember that the peace negotiations are not about a surrender to their desires, or compromising these values,” added Saleh.
“It is quite clear that neither us nor the Taliban will surrender. The solution is in the words that I quoted from the National Hero, and that is to account for the public's vote. If the Taliban claims that they have status among the people of Afghanistan, the Taliban needs to prove their claims through the vote of the people,” said Saleh.
Mohammad Karim Khalili, a former mujahideen leader at the event, said peace is the main aspiration of the Afghan people and no side should try to obstruct the peace process.
Khalili said that today there is a new Afghanistan with a vibrant generation that is not prepared to return to the past at any cost.
He said that the Taliban should not try to reestablish an emirate in Afghanistan.
“Peace does not mean surrendering, and the Taliban should not regard peace as the surrender of one side. The Taliban should not even think of reestablishing their emirate,” said Khalili.
“We must promote tolerance and accept each other to get rid of the war and to determine a sustainable peace which is the fundamental demand of the Afghan people,” said Khalili.
He said that Afghanistan strongly values cooperation by the international community for peace in Afghanistan, but peace must not be dictated by Afghans from abroad.
“Peace belongs to the Afghan people, this is the Afghan people who will determine peace,” Khalili concluded.
Fawzia Koofi, a member of the peace negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, at the event said that the Taliban should respond positively to the voice of the Afghan people for peace.
Ahmad Wali Massoud, the head of the Massoud Foundation, speaking at the event said that the war has been imposed on Afghanistan, but resistance will continue for the defense of the country.
Ahmad Wali Massoud said that Afghanistan needs to engage in direct discussions with Pakistan to help end the conflict in the country.
Attack on Panjshir:
The event in Kabul on Tuesday coincided with an attack by the Taliban launched on the Shahr-e-Ghulghula area of Abshar district of Panjshir province.
Panjshir was the home province of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud.
The Taliban have taken hostages, said local officials, and security forces from the center of Panjshir have been sent to the area.
“The Taliban have taken 10 local people hostage and have transferred them to a mosque,” said Mohammad Sahrab Sahrabi, the district governor of Abshar.
The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter said that Taliban fighters in the Abshar area of Panjshir damaged a fortification and detained "3 troopers," saying: "Clearance operation still ongoing."
Panjshir province is among the safest provinces of Afghanistan.
The Taliban recently announced a 21-member negotiating team led by the group's chief justice, Mawlawi Abdul Hakim, with former chief negotiator Abbas Stanekzai now serving as Hakim's deputy.