More than a decade after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is still in the midst of an irregular war. Talking peace is difficult because no one quite knows who to talk to.
The efforts gain significance coming ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting Sep. 14 on promoting a culture of peace. As officials talk, more ground-level efforts are being led by civil society groups.
New efforts have been made by officials to talk to anti-government groups, driven by the 2014 transition date when responsibility for security will be transferred fully to Afghan authorities, and when most of the international forces are due to leave Afghanistan.
Many social activists in Kabul see such efforts as unproductive. “I am not optimistic about peace,” Sima Samar, who heads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) tells IPS. “There is a negative competition on the negotiation issue, with too many players trying to fulfill their own specific agenda, and no clear mechanism regarding who should talk with whom, about what, for which purpose.
“Personally, I believe we are going to lose our time, unless we clearly specify the mechanisms through which we want to bring peace in the country and we clearly understand who are our enemies and who are our friends. Furthermore, we must address the conflict not only as a political issue, but also as a social one. Otherwise, we risk to get a short-time deal, but not a real, lasting reconciliation process.”
“The rhetorical clamor over talks about talks has led to a number of desperate and dangerous moves on the part of the Afghan government and its international allies to bring purported insurgent leaders to the negotiating table,” Robert Templer, the International Crisis Group’s Asia program director, said in March while presenting the Crisis Group report